Why God doesn’t go away
March 27th, 2013
09:41 AM ET

Why God doesn’t go away

By Paul J. Zak, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Paul J. Zak is a professor at Claremont Graduate University in California and author of 'The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity.' The views expressed are his own.

I carried a lot of crosses as a Catholic altar boy. I also learned to mumble phrases in Latin and breathed in enough incense to choke an elephant. There is something serene about being behind a ritual. It lets you observe and reflect. And wonder why in the world people show up.

Roughly six percent of Americans report that they are atheists or agnostics according to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll.  But, that means that over 90 percent believe in a God. Pew also reports that 80 percent profess a religious affiliation and half of those with a religious affiliation regularly attend church. So what motivates 120 million Americans to attend a church, synagogue or temple?

I began running experiments searching for a biochemical basis for moral behaviors in 2001 and found in a decade's worth of research that the molecule oxytocin motivated people to return kindness when they were shown kindness. Given my Catholic background and later skepticism that only Catholics would get into heaven (if such a thing exists), in my experiments I only asked college participants the most cursory questions about their religious beliefs. Guess what? Few college students are religious at all – and I found no difference in oxytocin functioning or prosocial behaviors between believers and nonbelievers.

Then the "weenie alert" went off in my scientist brain – I could learn so much more about the role of religion in moral behaviors if I got off campus. Free roaming humans are more religious than college students and I could study them in their natural habitat rather than in the sterile confines of my lab. Presuming, of course, religious people would let me study them.

More from CNN: Americans polarized over religion

After several meetings to gain permission, I went to a Christian church and took blood from volunteers before and after a Sunday service. I also took blood at a folk dance because many ancient religious rituals (and some current ones) involve coordinated movements. Then, I trekked deep into the rainforest of Papua New Guinea and took blood samples from indigenous peoples decked out in leaves and feathers as they did a centuries-old tribal dance.

In all these rituals, a majority of participants released oxytocin. Those who released oxytocin reported that they felt closer to their communities and said they would volunteer to help other community members. We did not find that the change in oxytocin was associated with an increased sense of connection to God or some "ultimate reality." In fact, there was no discernible difference between nonreligious and religious rituals at stimulating oxytocin release. A rugby team I studied produced as much oxytocin during their warm-up as did evangelical Christians who worshipped and sang in my lab.

The effect of ritual even worked for this skeptical scientist. Due to several equipment failures, I was embedded in my village in Papua New Guinea for several days with nothing to do. Quite quickly the villagers brought me into their daily rituals and I felt like I had joined their community and formed attachments to its members.  I still feel this way.

So why do people show up at church? Because people show up at church. Rituals build community by releasing oxytocin making rituals "sticky." An older woman in our folk dance sample told me she attended because dancing reduced her chronic pain. I asked her if this was due to the exercise or the people. After a pause, she said "both." Our data support her intuition.

Research from other scholars has shown that regular churchgoers are generally happier and healthier. Why? Oxytocin reduces stress responses and having more relationships make us happy. Churches also give attendants a chance to help others, another activity that increases one's satisfaction with life.

Sure, you don't need God, or church, to be happy or healthy. But the desire to park bottoms in pews has led churches in the U.S. to be effective community builders.  Humans need community and even reminders to be a bit less selfish and help others by studying ancient texts. Perhaps the saying "God is love" has it backwards. When we love others, we embody Godliness.

The proportion of atheists and agnostics may keep on growing, but as long as churches use rituals to bring people together, God is unlikely to go away.

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Topics: Religion

soundoff (635 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Paul Zak sensationalizes many of the properties of oxytocin merely in order to sell books, give lectures and enhance his own reputation. Pure and simple, he's a snake oil salesman. (It's worth noting that he is an economist, not a scientist.) Oxytocin is a multi-faceted peptide that can have erratic and dissimilar effects with different people and under different conditions. I'm disappointed that CNN has chosen to give him such prominent exposure for his advertising and self-promotion. Whether this article is designated personal opinion or not, CNN gives him credence simply by publishing it. When money talks, some opportunists will fight for seats in the front row.

    March 27, 2013 at 10:14 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      True, I didn't bother to read to finish reading. Why make such a big deal out of religion? I'm a Catholic myself and I only go to church to attend a funeral Mass or if I feel like singing carols over Christmas.

      March 28, 2013 at 10:52 am | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        correction: to read to the end.

        March 28, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • Billcody

        You're not Catholic.

        March 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
      • nunya

        I think the point is Bill Cody does not get to determine if "anyone" is a Catholic or not... Its not your decision. doob!

        March 30, 2013 at 9:49 am |
      • simmy

        If you don't practice the religion, then you can hardly call yourself CATHOLIC now can you?

        March 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
      • darkelemental1

        I am not even religious and ill tell you its not about practice and rituals its about faith and love. You lost sight of the meaning if only going to church every sunday makes you think you are catholic.

        March 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
      • nick

        cuse he ius busy plau=ying with his balls

        March 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
      • AK

        darkelemental, that's like saying you are a Marine if you put on a shirt that says 'Marine,' but never went to boot camp and never served in uniform.

        March 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • darkelemental1

        horrible example. doesnt even fit. You are catholic or any denomination based off your belief, not how many times you go to church. You are a marine through training and proper placement within the standing army, not the clothes you wear.

        March 30, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
      • stupido

        You made your conclusion and placed comments but yet you have not read read it completely? Typical negative person. Do not judge book by its cover

        March 31, 2013 at 5:52 am |
      • DJL

        And those who judge others are sinners. 😉

        March 31, 2013 at 10:27 am |
      • MarkinFL

        Hysterical. For every holier than though individual denouncing someone else's level of belief there is another even more so that would denounce the denouncer. The logical conclusion of this foolishness is that only Pope is Catholic which makes him pointless since there is no one to lead.

        March 31, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
      • placeholder

        If he says he's a catholic, that's his prerogative. No one else is in a position to tell him what he is or isn't, especially after reading 2 sentences on a comments section.

        March 31, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
      • popeter

        If you knew about the pope and the vatican, you'd exit Catholicism altogether. If you're curious about what I mean,go to itccs(dot)org and read all about what's happening FINALLY to uncover the crimes and the genocide perpetrated by the Catholic church. This extends all the way to Queen Elizabeth. You will be amazed.

        April 1, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
      • Chris

        "Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car." ~ G.K. Chesterton

        April 3, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • vikas

      Good post. What's funny is that oxytocin (or another chemical) is what made people nice, you don't need religious texts to order you to be nice. You don't need god or religion as a basis for morality, because morality comes from chemicals that everyone has.

      March 29, 2013 at 10:07 am | Reply
      • Bill

        If only chemicals can make people nice, we won't need any rehab center. We should just inject chemicals into people.

        March 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
      • einzart

        Good point. Since Chemicals are running the show, it means you have no free-will. Do you agree with this?

        March 29, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
      • Erika

        It's your free will that makes changes to the chemicals of your body.

        March 30, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
      • jkflipflop

        Actually, it's the other way around. All those chemicals sloshing around in your brain make you think you're doing things of a "free will" but you're actually just following your instinctive programming. Hence why if you just take a step back and watch a group of people in many situations, their behavior is the same as a group of chimpanzees most of the time.

        March 30, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
      • Andrew Ryan

        Exactly! There's no such thing as love or hate, choice, freedom, pain, sadness, it's just chemicals! If you killed yourself, what have we lost? A living body and a dead one have the same number of particles, so why not just kill yourself? And kill other people too! Why not?

        Also, I have faith and believe that the Universe created itself! Blessed be the Universe! Praise the Universe!

        March 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
      • einzart

        Andrew, Some truth in what you said. Same as jk. But to understand why its important not to hurt someone else or even "yourself", you have to explain to me that "oneself" means. Thats the next step forward.

        March 30, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
      • er

        very true but people are to brainwashed now, and religious organizations are huge money makers they are not going away, humanity to remain ignorant for all times.

        April 1, 2013 at 12:11 am |
      • the colosseum is full

        I believe the author's position is that Oxycontin is produced in the body of those who are practice the golden rule.

        April 1, 2013 at 10:12 am |
      • Haluk


        April 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
      • ThomasPrydeIV

        You and the author of this article are giving way too much power to chemical changes in the body. All the Oxytocin can do is make you feel one way or another – it isnt the sum total of morality. I can't speak for other religions, but I know that for Christianity, (very simply put) it's not directly concerned with how you feel, but instead, with what you value, which should be independent to our fickle emotions.

        April 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • jon

      Over 90% of people in the U.S. believe in a god? You have got to be kidding.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:26 am | Reply
      • Kevin

        Join us, there's room!

        March 29, 2013 at 11:41 am |
      • Jeff

        Absolutely – it's statistics like this that tell me there IS hope for America after all!

        March 29, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • MarylandBill

        Why do you find it so hard to believe that so many people believe in God? Perhaps its because what you think is so self evident, is not as self evident as you think it is?

        March 29, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • Domine

        Buddha welcomes you into his religion.

        March 29, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
      • TheTruth

        On any given Sunday more than 1/2 of the United States is in a Christian church. That rises to more than 85% at Christmas and Easter.

        March 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • ogre12

        GOD would love for you to come on over and chat.

        March 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
      • darkstar

        90% of the population are simply delusional and scientfically-illiterate. Nuff said.

        March 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
      • Fred Evil

        Of course there;s room Kevin, there's always room at the nut-house.
        There MAY be a god, but I promise you no religion on Earth is even close. NOT ONE.

        March 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
      • agnostickim

        yeah, everything I read has non believers at around 30% or so. I find that holds true in the people I meet but of course thats a skewed sample.
        I see it this way: I doubt there is an old man sitting in a cloud watching me and making sure I am paying my taxes, being faithful etc; however, there are things in this world that resist scientific explainations right now that keep me sort of on the fence. I have been able to see the future in detail and see homes and people I am related to in my dreams– people that i never met or saw pictures of or even know existed when I had the dreams. I later met them and went to these homes and even the tiniest details were correct as i had dreamed them. I have had many many more things like this happen to me but I still do not buy into anyone's version of religion. I just do not know. Thats how it is to be agnostic.

        March 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
      • thk4yrslf

        90% are ordinary lazy people, no curiosity or motivation towards understanding the unknown and flatly choosing to believe the herd. The remaining 10% is the reason why the humanity is moving forward.

        March 29, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
      • bradhamilton1955

        I think the 90% figure is misleading – if ~6% are atheists or agnostics, that doesn't mean that 94% aren't – it means that the survey was not meaningful, because it didn't include a NOTA – "none of the above". All we can say with "certainty" (within plus-or-minus 5%), is that ~6% of Americans identify with Atheism or Agnosticisim.

        BTW – agnostics don't believe, or not believe – their creed is, "I don't know (and neither do you)".

        "...Lies, damned lies, and statistics"

        March 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
      • lou

        90% of Americans don't believe in God, 90% of Americans where PROGRAMMED to believe in god.

        March 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
      • Matt

        How is religion being lazy and not want to find out about the unknown. I love material science and I research it every chance I get. Opening your mind is also searching the non-material. Limiting yourself and being lazy is just seeing what's in front of your face.

        March 29, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
      • Josef Bleaux

        That just shows how stupid most people are. Only the highly intelligent people can overcome the conditioning and brain washing.

        March 29, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
      • Walter

        Why do so many people celabrate a holiday not in the bible? Easter.

        March 30, 2013 at 3:29 am |
      • nunya

        His statistics are way off. I believe there are alot more people that are NOT practicing any religion.

        March 30, 2013 at 9:51 am |
      • iastarman

        More people believe in believing in a god than believe in a god.

        March 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
      • kent

        i'd put money on that statistic being wrong. i'd say at minimum that 10% of the people polled said they believe in god when they are really afraid to admit or say they really don't. once religious myself, it is hard to tell people you don't believe in god anymore. many, many more people have real doubts about the existence of a god portrayed as the christian god, and to me, they should be in the category of not believing. god will go away in time. probably a long time from now, but man will die out some day and those at the end will realize that the billions of believers in god were wrong throughout time.

        March 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • warlocalcott

        I think it's more like 95%

        March 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • warlocalcott

        Atheists somewhere along the line, thought they had a roll going. I don't know where that ever came from. Poor guys and gals. I am Wiccan, which has been the fastest growing religion in America for the past 5 years. And I will tell you, people, no matter their religion, believe in a higher deity. So crawl back in your hole, someone will bring your meds around shortly.

        March 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
      • jkflipflop

        I would have thought Americans to be smarter than that. I guess I was wrong.

        March 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
      • Frankhy

        They SAY they believe in God. Not the same thing as them actually believing. If you don't consider yourself a Christian, you are shunned by society, heck you might even become suspect of anti-American activities and become under surveillance.Heck even Obama is getting accused of not being enough Christian and consequently an evil anti-Christ even though he does say he is Christian. If you want to survive in the US, you must convince your surroundings that you are Christian, or else face the consequences of societal stigma. So it is hardly surprising that a majority, when asked, say they believe in "God (kinda)".

        March 31, 2013 at 2:58 am |
      • hopeirv7

        I always thought there seemed to be about an 80/20 rule (80% of people aren't too bright, 20% are above average). I don't really think only 6% don't believe in god.

        March 31, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
      • MarkinFL

        "The poll, conducted in April by the Pew Research Center, showed that 31 percent of respondents under the age of 30 have doubts about the existence of God, compared to 9 percent of those polled who were 65 or older. "

        Change comes slowly. But it comes.

        March 31, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
      • Thomas

        No, 90% of people claim they believe in god on a survey.

        That's the problem with surveys. They only record what people choose to respond to.

        April 1, 2013 at 8:27 am |
      • frespech

        No Jon- which means you will be in the minority for quite some time.

        April 1, 2013 at 10:58 am |
      • OOrgo

        90% believe in God, but what percentage of those believe in their fellow man?

        April 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • Robert

        Yes ,but that very bogus statistic is not surprising when you only survey people who go to church! Duh!

        April 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
      • misterchainbluelightning

        90% believe in God, while 20% are religiously unaffiliated. Religiously unaffiliated is the largest growing response in the USA

        April 7, 2013 at 4:00 am |
      • Jeremiah

        At one point, 90% (or more) of Europe believed that "humors," demons, or spirits caused disease. At least 90% of all Scientologists and Mormons wake up believing in a crap religion on a daily basis. At least 90% of ancient Egyptians believed that the Pharaoh was demigod and that his soul would traverse into the afterlife at night only to journey back to his dessicated and preserved corpse during the day.

        The funny thing about delusions is that it doesn't matter how many people believe them...they are still wrong. Maybe 90% of people believe in God, but more and more are starting to believe that God shouldn't have a place in our government, our educational system, or our Courts. I'll take that and be happy.

        April 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • Southern Celt

      You expected something different from CNN? Mr. Zak's article is what some people would call a left handed compliment.
      People believe in God even if they don't know what to call him. He is in each of us if we only listen.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Reply
      • Fred Evil

        So I've listened, and listened, and listened, and I have never heard anything.
        I'm listening, why isn't god talking? Or does it only talk to you and your dog?

        March 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
      • warlocalcott

        WOOT! WOOT!

        March 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
      • Quadg

        he is in all of us, becasue all our brains produce oxytocin..

        March 31, 2013 at 10:15 am |
      • Robert

        When you only poll people who attend church, such a skewed result is inevitable. Pure nonsense.

        April 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • einzart

      First explain to me what you think God is and then you can be disappointed with Paul's article.

      March 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Reply
    • Nena

      I agree. I didn't even bother to finish reading it, but I did scan the rest of it. Go figure, William James already wrote the answer to this more than a century ago, in his book, the Varieties of Religious Experiences. I've read about about oxtocin, and even attended brain research conferences put on by real scientists, but I am not really convinced in anything special or new offered here.

      March 30, 2013 at 1:54 am | Reply
    • Bob1god

      I'm a Pastafarian for life, why doesn't my belief get any luv on CNN?

      March 30, 2013 at 10:20 am | Reply
      • hisgoodteenr

        Because CNN is allergic to pasta.

        March 31, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Mobius008

      All the talk about oxytocin reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite novels,

      "Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half of your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears – that is what SOMA is."

      So, maybe Huxley was right about our future, after all.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:24 am | Reply
    • nebuchadnezzar

      1. emit oxytocin
      2. ?
      3. Profit!!

      March 31, 2013 at 8:14 am | Reply
    • sideshowbob

      Born and raised staunch Catholic, but stopped going to church about 30 yrs ago. My religious community is a group of runners who meet most every Sunday morning for an informal friendly long run. I daresay that our little group is more Christian with a capital C than can be found in many churches .

      March 31, 2013 at 10:23 am | Reply
      • Johnny-Boy Slogging

        I'll second that!

        I find the running community to be catholic in it's broadest sense. Nonjudgmental, welcoming and inclusive, giving and respectful. And we get to do it in the finest cathedrals.

        April 1, 2013 at 7:38 am |
      • cjameson

        Well put- "God" can mean different things to different people. I dont believe one must go to a church, sit on a wooden bench, sing ancient songs, chant bizarre poems and then put cash on a plate in order to feel connected to humanity, the world and a higher continuum.

        April 1, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Mark Namhie

      Sigh .... another complaining whiner.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • the colosseum is full

      to take blood samples of various types of people and find something present in each of them makes him a scientist in this occasion .. your dis favor with him is very telling about you.. and your opinion doesn't change CNN's position 0000000.1 on the scale of change. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      April 1, 2013 at 10:09 am | Reply
    • getreal

      Why do some people just attack CNN on a "belief" piece? Belief is no more than opinion and usually has less facts to support it. I find CNN to allow many religious leaders plenty of face time in this section some very prominently. What I got out of this article is the production of this natural chemical Oxytocin can occur in or out of a relgious environment. Nor does it trend in anyway between different belief groups. It states pretty clearly that with social re-inforcement and the chemical reward will happen. So in affect we are mostly a social creature, good Im glad we cleared that up.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Reply
      • thinkright5

        Funny how Christianity requires people to come together. It's almost as if God knew it would be good for people. After all, he could have just required people to be Christians on their own.

        April 5, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • thinkright5

        One could say that humans were created by God with a God gene and that gathering together releases oxytocin as perhaps a reward? In other words, if God was going to "design" a human, he certainly would include biology that would allow humans to be open to God or religion. Humans could just as easily have be created without such biology aspects. But the point is, they were.

        April 5, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • Robert

        Genes have nothing to do with the fact that "god" was invented by man! That is why your so-called "god" seems so ridiculously fixated on each and every silly and useless thing mankind does (like praying to win a stupid sporting event! complete lunacy!)! It is simply man's overinflated EGO and narcissistic infatuation with himself! Our species living on this little planet is so incredibly insignificant and unimportant that mankind simply cannot cope with such reality... So we invented a god to "adore" us... How sweet.

        April 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Willard

      Release of pituitary hormones as a function of the nervous system is as predictive of feeling good as oxygen levels in response to ambient air composition. Logical error common with human intellectual limitations, often associated with feelings of omnipotent understanding until subjected to further scrutiny. Thanks for another example of humbling arrogance.

      April 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Reply
      • Bricklayer

        What Willard means is that a discussion of hormones being released into the bloodstream is irrelevant to the argument that there is or is not a god.

        April 1, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Haluk

      So, what is your point Jim?

      April 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Reply
    • Charles Manteghi

      Most in denial of religion's validity, have not studied all religions, particularly the most progressive one of them all which may blow their minds beyond belief. They find more comfort in irresponsibly denying what they haven't a clue or enough comprehension of. Those who deny and those who blindly follow religions are both as fanatical as they can be. They should open their minds and see the world as what they are only a part of, instead of a world which they seem to believe to be a part of them.

      April 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Reply
    • Janet

      To all you who are atheists or agnostics out there:
      God loves you. Don't be close-minded, and it is unfair to say all religious people are stupid. There are many brilliant thinkers of all religions in history, just as there were many stupid people in all religions. There are many great religious people, and there are many terrible people who call themselves religious. You are not tolerant if you say that anyone who disagrees with you is stupid, ignorant, or a bigot. Just remember: God loves you! be happy! 🙂

      April 8, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Reply
    • Janet

      God loves you! 🙂

      April 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  2. Stevens

    "In God we trust" should not mean that Washington, DC imports "Korean military generals" that play the "GOD". No more fools game, no more Washington, DC, no more naive money-oriented politics. We in the Western World are well informed, and will not be fooled with Washington, DC games. We want from Washington, DC, clear "NO" against "Koreans".

    March 27, 2013 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • John M.

      How the Hell do you get Korea from this Article?

      March 29, 2013 at 10:39 am | Reply
    • Lawrence

      You took the wrong kind of OXY my friend

      March 29, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • jkflipflop

      The hilarious part is all these faux-pious nutjobs will gladly make fun of the North Korean's belief that Kim is a living God – but don't you DARE suggest that the all-knowning bearded man in the sky that wants to send your soul to a pit of fire for the rest of eternity for minor infractions isn't real.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Reply
      • frespech

        FlipFlop-First of all your ignorance is astounding. For beginners- open the Bible and tell me where God said Adam was going for his sin. Just because the truth of Gods word has been corrupted by false religions does not make God corrupt.
        He actually wishes that none would perish, but that's where your free will comes in. You get to choose.

        April 1, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  3. Joseph McCarthy

    Why should God "go away"? If the people in this country believed in him more and observed the 6th commandment, they probably wouldn't support all these useless and unnecessary wars that the politicians in Washington drag us into. We Americans need to follow God more and ignore these right-wing, warmongering politicians telling us how to hate Muslims like Barack Obama does!

    March 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Reply
    • mike ferris

      The translation of the sixth commandment from the original Hebrew is: "You shall not murder." in Judaism.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:25 am | Reply
      • cedar rapids

        funny how that translation has started to show up when for so many centuries it was 'shall not kill'.
        I guess they needed to change it so they could justify war and such.

        March 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
      • Fred Evil

        And you have just re-written yet another piece of the most re-written book in history.
        Anyone who believes anything it says is simply foolish, and utterly lacking any cognitive honesty.

        March 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • okiejoe

        And for all those centuries it was applied only to individuals when the real violators were governments and churches.

        March 30, 2013 at 9:39 am |
      • Jim

        Actually, many Biblical scholars would contend that the commandments were contextual to Jews. So it should be translated, "Thou shall not kill Jews."

        March 30, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • mike ferris

      Obama supports the murder of unborn children.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:26 am | Reply
      • Pentateuch

        Numbers 5 is the chapter that speaks directly about abortion. Since god bestowed favor down through the male line, these gifts would be diminished if a husband unknowingly raised a child that wasn't his. So jealous husbands could bring their wives to the priest for an abortion. It then describes how the priest administered the bitter herbs for an abortion. The point is that in the bible, killing is often not considered murder and is sometimes carried out by priests.

        March 29, 2013 at 10:23 am |
      • Kevin

        Pentateuch. It is not bitter herbs, it is bitter water made with dirt and holy water. The herbs are a jealousy offering burnt as a sacrifice. The woman drinks the bitter water whether she is guilty of infidelity or not. It is her sin that causes her body to swell and the fetus to fall away, not the bitter water. If dirty water by itself caused abortions, there are a lot of abortion clinics that would change their practices.

        March 29, 2013 at 11:35 am |
      • Kevin

        Numbers 5 does not give us a free ticket to kill babies!

        March 29, 2013 at 11:38 am |
      • theemptyone1

        Pentateuch; That's the Old Testament and pertains to Jews. Remember that Jesus supposedly said that this was the New Covenant and superseded the old. But your point is taken that once "God" seemed to think it was alright. Now imagine what has replaced it; The celebration of a human sacrifice and symbolic cannibalism. If you believe that a priest or minister has the power of God or Jesus with him, that bread becomes flesh and that wine becomes blood. If it's the thought that counts as in what is in your heart and mind, then believers are cannibals and practice human sacrifice.

        March 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
      • Fred Evil

        How old are you? Could you qualify? Please?

        March 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • Frankhy

        So do I, because I sometimes spill my seed, and every spermie is not sacred.

        Deal with it.

        March 31, 2013 at 3:13 am |
    • mike ferris

      Muslims worship a false god and a pediophile.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:27 am | Reply
      • shamsky24

        Do you have anything to contribute here that _isn't_ stupid and offensive?

        March 29, 2013 at 10:35 am |
      • John M.

        It is the same God, you Boob.

        March 29, 2013 at 10:42 am |
      • dan

        Yes and so do Christians, there is no such thing as god.

        March 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • TheTruth

        It isn't their god, it's Muhhamad – it's been historically verified (he married his youngest wife when she was 9 – he was in his mid-thirties).

        March 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
      • treezz

        All gods are false.

        March 30, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
      • Frankhy

        So you agree that most Gods don't exist and are just fantasies made up by humans? Odin, Jupiter, Zeus, Astarte, Baal, Freya, Ahura-Mazda, Jupiter and the other thousands of Gods that people have believed in but that atheists and Christians agree are just powerless imaginary friends that humans have invented even though they do not actually exists.

        March 31, 2013 at 3:23 am |
    • Farid Kettani

      I agree with you. Unfortunately, religion has always been associated with the hatred of those who do not believe like you. think of all the massacres in north, central and south america, the crusades, Vietnam, Iraq, you name it....
      I think Americans Believe in God more than any other nation in the world. Maybe f there was less GOd, there would be less killings.
      I was shocked to read somebody who wrote after the Newtown massacre of innocents children that it was because people did not believe enough in God. What kind of God is that: if you don't worship me, I'll let a lunatic on the loose massacre innocent kids

      March 29, 2013 at 9:28 am | Reply
      • are122

        Yes, as we know Pol Pot during Vietnam war time was a very religious person. That's why the bashed people in the head to kill them rather than shoot them. As for less God, yes...we have many good samples, Stalin, Mao, the North Korean nut, all nice people with no God involved.

        March 29, 2013 at 9:43 am |
      • darkstar

        Grow up. None of those dictators killed anyone in the name of science, logic or lack of belief in an invisible sky fairy. Yours is a tired old useless arguement. Human beings can be devious with or without supernatural belief, but no one has ever killed in the name of non-belief.

        March 29, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • Ryan

        It all comes down to your opinion or perspective. Atheists believe there is no God or gods and they believe that early humans were just dumb, mindless idiots. That's not all atheists though, like not all Christians are religious nuts. Me, personally, do believe in God and I do honor and worship him, but i don't believe in relying on him in my time of need. I believe that he watches us, but he doesn't guide or save us. That's up to us as humans to do. What we do, nothing is going to save us except our own will and bodies. The thing people always mess up is on making God more of a human than a God. God is not a human, so he doesn't have our human emotions and feelings. He is just there as the catalyst of creation and death. He is not a living being, but al that "energy" that flows in and out. He is formless and shapeless. But, that's my view anyways. For those of you that believe that religion as lead every war and conflict in human history, just realize that being atheist won't stop it. Violence is a human thing, just a part of our nature and it will never stop. Don't take this as defensive, but rather as sharing my own opinion and belief. If you're atheist, then good for you. If you're a religious nut, well then good for you too. Can't we all just STOP fighting and put all this behind us.

        April 6, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Joel


      Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15)

      A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9)

      If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. (Deuteronomy 13:7-9)

      "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives." (Leviticus 20:13)

      From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. "Go up baldhead," they shouted, "go up baldhead!" The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces. (2 Kings 2:23-24)

      March 29, 2013 at 11:25 am | Reply
      • Bob

        I love how people pick out versus in the Bible that we could never understand from our frame of reference, and then discount the entire book. It's all frame of reference.

        Example: try explaining to a young child today (in 2013) that we used to have black people as slaves that did everything for us, and never paid them a dime. A child would NEVER understand that, and yet it happened much more recent in our history than the events in the Bible.

        March 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        I thought the bible was the plainly understood, unerring word of god Bob?
        You saying now its context based?
        I'll remember that next time someone tries to use it to justify condemning someone.

        March 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
      • agnostickim

        somewhere there is a passage about sodomizing your father too, its pretty sick.

        March 29, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
      • Believer

        ok so here it is...for those who think believers don't think...look up laminin, found by scientists...follow to the scripture that says "the cross holds all existence together".
        for those who don't believe there will never be enough proof. for those who do proof is shown through how they live their life
        for those who think scripture is for comdemning others please re read your Bible where it says you will be judged by how you judge others...The Bible is there to help us, not hinder, or fight, convince, but to let us read the History of people God worked through.
        I find it funny athiests and non-believers scream and complain so quickly when some one has a belief system. The truth I believe is if you don't have belief, then how can you be trusted? The world's morals come from God, not individuals. When it comes from individuals is when all the fights start.

        March 30, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Lawrence

      what do you read? Obama Right wing? Starting wars? God needs to strike you down for being a kook

      March 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • Naaaaaa

      Obama has NEVER told anyone to hate ANYONE. Fool.

      March 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Reply
      • TheTruth

        Obama has, in fact, been the most divisive president in history, turning race against race and class against class.

        March 29, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        'TheTruth – Obama has, in fact, been the most divisive president in history, turning race against race and class against class.'

        Thats right because its Obama that is forcing people to question his faith, his nationality, to claim his aim is to destroy America, and heck even who his father is.
        Its people like you Truth that are divisive. There is so much bs spouted and claimed as fact.

        March 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
      • Fred Evil

        LOL, 'TheTruth' is anything but.
        Most divisive in history? And objective claim with a subjective determination.
        You're just mad because people see through your flagrant BalognaSandwich.

        March 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
      • agnostickim

        Didn't attend a church for 20 years that preached hatred of whites? Its not ok to hate whites anymore than it is ok to hate other minorities and frankly I am getting fed up with the racial pass black people seem to think they have in this regard. I never owned a slave, nor supported slavery. My family never owned slaves– going back as far as we can which is in the 1600's. I have no white guilt, I have not done anything wrong and I do not hate anyone because of the color of thier skin. I will judge you by your behavior though and if you act like an idiot or are violent or disrespectful– I will stay away from people like that.

        March 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
      • agnostickim

        meant to say didn't obama attend a church for 20 years....

        March 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      What an utterly stupid post.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply
    • lroy

      Because God is always there because he is omnipresent. It is bad Catholics/Christians, agnostics, heretics, atheists, etc. who choose of their own free will ignore God. I hate to say it, but there are non-Christians who recognize the constant presence of God more than other persons. Christians should have constant reminders like Jews.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:29 am | Reply
    • Janet

      @ Fred Evil:
      Why do you hate the Bible? as a practicing Catholic, i freely acknowledge there's plenty of garbage in there, but all that was products of the times in which it was written. You have to admit there's plenty of good stuff in the bible, in the gospel especially. Like what? caring for the poor, sick, and oppressed, charity for all, not judging... the list goes on and on.
      God loves you people! be happy! 🙂

      April 8, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  4. JAL

    Sometimes it helps me to think about God like this: When we look at a black hole, what we see is Gods way of saying, "You cant go there." However, God can go there and even send messengers.

    March 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Reply
    • JAL

      That is why I love the concept of "Skydiving Jesus", perhaps dressed like Elvis or something...

      March 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • drowlord

      More like "you can't escape from there." Not that I understand the rest of what you say. Send messages from there? You think god lives in a black hole or something?

      March 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • mjplatt

      I have no idea what you were trying to say there.....?

      March 29, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  5. paralaxvu

    I would posit that atheists and agnostics have their own communities and, therefore, also share in the oxytocin feeling on their own terms. It's a shame CNN doesn't have more investigative reporters writing editorials instead of someone who obviously has his own agenda.

    March 27, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Reply
    • pattyc

      Atheists and Agnostics do NOT have "their own community". Many , many do not even tell their closest family members. Many attend church regularly. It is not exactly something that is easy to tell people. Atheists and Agnostics sometimes take this secret to their grave.
      I am an Atheist, and I don't have anything against those who believe. In fact, sometimes I wish I COULD believe- but I do not so I won't say I do. My family is not super religious though. Some of my friends are- and my Atheism distresses them. Can you understand why a lot of Atheists are on the down low?

      March 29, 2013 at 10:48 am | Reply
      • Joe

        Atheism a religion, no matter how much Atheists try to tell you it is not. A religion is a strong belief in some sort of system, and Atheists believe that there is NO God. This is what they preach, and they try to convince everyone around them of their belief system. They even have lobby groups to push their agenda, very similar to a "missionary" effort (i.e. removing "In God We Trust" from coinage, removing a cross from anywhere and everywhere, etc.).

        March 29, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • theemptyone1

        Joe you have to show how atheism is a religion and what the belief system is. Believers check off on a list of irrational claims that are absent from and the opposite of atheism. Atheism by definition is the absence of belief in a god or supernatural explanations in general. Atheism is the result of the practice of philsophical rationalism. This is the only way we have of knowing anything. It is how for example you came to be able to use a computer to make your claims in this forum because it is the basis of scientific investigation. If you and religious people had remained in total control, we'd still be burned at the stake and you would still not be able to read and the world would be flat. Rational philosophy made today possible for you. Atheists see the harm done by religion and how belief systems enslave people's minds and spirits. We also know that this nation was established so that yes, religion could exist unmolested, but it also could not intrude upon the government or the law of the people in the nation. There have been intrusions like how religious fanatics got "In God We Trust" onto U.S. currency during a very stressful time in the nation, the Civil War. We know that "Under God" was added during the Korean War and the McCarthy era when right wing religious nuts saw an atheist as an automatic communist and there was a commie under every rock. Well, the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy may have been at work there, because the nuttiness of people like you then, who don't have enough education to know how to identify what a belief system is, forced thinking people to make a choice and so today, I would say that many more people are agnostics and atheists than will readily check a box and admit it.

        March 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • Person of Interest

        Joe, I'm agnostic. I was raised Catholic. I don't care what people believe. I respect people that believe but I don't have a weekly community meeting. Nor do I try to influence others opinions. If there is a lack of a system then there can't be a religion. You can have a belief that is not a religion but you can't have a religion that is not a belief.

        March 29, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • paralaxvu

        Perhaps some atheists and agnostics do not have their own communities, but there are those who do, and those are the ones who don't become quite so bitter.

        March 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        'Joe – Atheism a religion, no matter how much Atheists try to tell you it is not'

        oh please, grow up.

        March 29, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
      • agnostickim

        I am agnostic and not bitter, just tired of being marginalized by believers who think I am wrong and need to be scorned. It is so 'un christian' to judge me on my belief system. I do not take it personally if someone is christian but they seem to be disturbed by someone sho is not.

        March 29, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
      • Ryboi

        patty there are a lot people just lyou ike and happened to be one of them. Once you tell people that you don't believe GOD they conclude that you believe in the devil or even worse start praying for your soul. What I have found that is those that believers come to see jesus and God or after something happen to them (Example divorce, murder, wife beating, DWI etc). May it is time for them to think that God is the good within us and the devil is the and bad within us, and control which one we want and are not control by some unseen force.

        March 30, 2013 at 5:37 am |
      • frespech

        Patty_ I was very agnostic for many,many years- I wasn't embarrased about it or ashamed. Many people are non believers and unless you decide to seek God chances are you will never find or know Him. At 58 years old 2 Jehovahs witnesses stoped by and being cordial I listened, they came back 2 or 3 times then asked if I was interested in a Bible study. I hemmed and hawed and said why not. I have been studying for the past 6 years and I believe I have a much better understanding of God and Bible principals now. Believe or not- the choce is always with you. Until time runs out.

        April 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • lngtrmthnkr

      made ya think though.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:25 am | Reply
      • paralaxvu

        Mmmmm, not really. Been around long enough to have come to that conclusion many years ago.

        April 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Robert

      Oh YEAH! Atheists have clubs and organizations just like people who DON'T collect stamps have weekly meetings about NOT collecting stamps! And people who DON'T watch birds get together each month to discuss why they DON'T go bird watching! Complete lunacy! M0R0Ns!...

      April 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Reply
      • paralaxvu

        Shows your lack of knowledge about what and who atheists and agnostics really are. And name-calling should have ended in childhood.

        April 6, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  6. TheEducatedSociety.com

    Let's be broader minded–if ritual gathering is the reason for the release of oxytocin and happiness, shouldn't the author just say ANY ritual gathering, which would include temples, mosques, synagogues, family dinners, baseball games, etc? That would bolster his argument and ease potential criticism. The church/God part of this article is a support, not the thesis.

    March 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Reply
    • SammyD

      Great point. he did state that the same levels of oxytocin were shown from warming up for rugby. I go to church regularly and i definitely feel a lot better after i go. I feel more happy and energized which I don't really get from other activities. Usually people at church are very happy and friendly which picks you up. people should really try it

      March 29, 2013 at 10:00 am | Reply
    • Ookami

      I would contend that Oxytocin would also be in elevated levels of those who go to concerts regardless of what type of concert it is. There have been studies like this in repuatable Scientific journals that establish this fact. Nothing at all to do with belief in something that is not there.

      April 3, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  7. Tuula

    In other words, churches etc are just social clubs....

    March 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • jon

      That is about it.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:28 am | Reply
      • lngtrmthnkr

        for many ,yes,for some ,more than social.

        April 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Jim

      Actually, not even close. Try going out with your buddies, smoke some pot and drink a bunch of alcohol. This is not long-term happiness. Then try going to church, and really worship. You will feel a BIG difference between the two.

      March 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        I'll take the pot and drinking night out any day. I was forced to go to church for over a decade as a child. I never remember feeling good about being there. It was just boring. So you're saying that going to church = long term happiness? My free will and thinking makes it impossible for me to attend. I can't sit there thinking this is BS the entire time, it would be a waste.

        March 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
      • Robert

        This is only appears true if you are completely immersed in the god delusion! Your own mind will convince you of whatever you so desperately seek! Those false feelings of safety and bliss are part of man's natural defense mechanisms generated by our own subconscious minds to help primitive humans cope with disturbing fears and the overwhelming insecurity of reality. As soon as you start seeing through the delusion, all of those imaginary benefits and feelings immediately disappear! Then you will finally see the universe in complete clarity for what it is, which is a beautiful and wondrous thing! Only then, will you ever comprehend mankind's actual "place" in this enormous and infinite universe!

        April 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Let There Be Light

      If churches are "social clubs for believers", then night clubs are merely a "gathering of devils"...

      March 30, 2013 at 1:36 am | Reply
      • Robert

        Why would you presume that? Night clubs are mostly full of believers!

        April 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • lroy

      No. It's true that people chat before Mass, and after Mass (a practice that is discouraged) and should be left afterwards but because we're human, it's a fault we have to overcome. I'm guilty but at least I whisper. And NO cell phones. If you want to socialize at church wait until afterwards.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:32 am | Reply
  8. johnny

    There is a force up or out there that we dont yet know or see.

    The galaxy and planet Earth systems couldnt have been put in place without any meticulous planning and scientific execution.

    All religions, I think, are part of the scheme of things to remind us that there is life after death. What, where and how of afterlife, we would never know. And its probably for our own good. Because if it is let known that an afterlife exists, millions of earthlings would end their miserable lives just to be in the new afterlife world.

    I hope this is consolation but not an advice for you to give up living 🙂

    March 28, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Reply
    • SammyD

      How do we explain the "big bang" when everything came from a single point?

      March 29, 2013 at 10:14 am | Reply
      • Kevin

        The big bang theory is just a really funny tv show, nothing more.

        March 29, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • Lee S

        Matter and energy are interchangable. Energy can be stacked and compressed down into immesnly dense and unimaginably small but powerful packages. What our unverse came from will be discovered to be the wildest limits of our imagination.

        March 31, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • mjplatt

      Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.........kinda shows a lack of conviction, no?

      March 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
      • brianz72

        Great point. I always wonder why my religious nut mother in law gets sad when somebody dies or even expresses concern for her own health. If I were religious, I'd be wishing for a brain tumor, so I could live with my invisible friend "god" for all eternity in blissful paradise!

        March 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        Christians want to become communists when they die.
        They want to go to a place where there is no rich or poor, everyone is equal and exactly the same. There are no needs or wants, everything will be provided. They will spend their days worshipping the authority in charge, who will always remain in charge, guiding and ruling their lives for eternity.
        Sounds like communist paradise.

        March 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
      • Let There Be Light

        I'm saved. I have no problem with dying. As the Apostle Paul said, "For me to die is gain."...

        March 30, 2013 at 1:33 am |
      • frespech

        mjplatt- I neither want to go to heaven nor want to die. That being said the Lords prayer "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" Jesus is the way and the life-eternal life. Here on earth- Jesus as the King until all things are subjected under his feet, then he himself subjects himself to the one who subjected all things to him. The purpose of the resurrection was to show that the dead could be raised back to life not to demonstrate that we transform into Angels. That is the truth and I believe it. Your choice is to believe or not. I hope you make the right choice. God bless.

        April 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'The galaxy and planet Earth systems couldnt have been put in place without any meticulous planning and scientific execution'


      March 29, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Reply
      • johnnyvistar

        @cedar rapids

        I wish I knew how it all started. Scientists use evolution to explain the unexplainables like the creation of humans.

        Evolution is a science of convenience and coincidence. The evolution theory was from people from an underdevelop scientific age , where people would not believe that men could visit the Moon and land space vehicles on Mars. It was all mostly personal assumption and alot of guesswork that make me think the theory of revolution is very flimsy at best. Darwin would be completely astonished had someone told him cloning man is possible. Had he known cloning is possible, he would surely throw away his evolution theory into the ocean, where he preached our ancestors came from. Tsk, tsk.

        We could be part of an experiment, like dinosaurs were. It might sound like science fiction than religious but I dont know. And nobody will – until they see the afterlife world. If it exists.

        One thing is sure, we are not alone in this amazing uncomprehensible vast galaxy. I think if our ancestors were created to populate the earth as an experiment – there must therefore be other perfected worlds somewhere out there. Livable Worlds where the occupiers never die.

        So we all die. Our planet Earth will die too – from gross neglect by an imperfect people. Where do we hope to go to when we all die? God knows.

        March 30, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • okiejoe

      How do you know that it isn't all random? Were you there at the creation? Was anybody? So this is merely your opinion because you can't conceive of any natural cause. I don't know where the Universe came from; it isn't necessary that I know. I just know it exists and that is enough for me.

      March 30, 2013 at 9:55 am | Reply
    • Robert

      That is entirely illogical. You obviously know very little about our universe! As far as scientists can tell, this universe is full of energy, matter and anti-matter representing every single possible configuration and combination of particles and gases that would be generated from a series of huge random events! There is really NOTHING repeated in any kind of perfect, regular nor identical fashion between all of the things we have studied in the cosmos so far! You presumptions have no basis in reality!

      April 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  9. Roger

    This is an article only a scientist could write. Didn't get all that much out of it.

    March 29, 2013 at 9:23 am | Reply
    • Robert

      Perhaps some proper education would help.

      April 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  10. Bruce Rubin


    March 29, 2013 at 9:25 am | Reply
  11. joseph ryder

    God Exist: I do not believe in Evolution I have change my mind, We have Evoluted to Bigger lies, hate, deceit, drugs, morals,
    gays, lesbians, everything the bible says no to the leader of the free world? says yes to. The bible calls path to destruction
    we are moving faster than Evolution.

    March 29, 2013 at 9:26 am | Reply
  12. tv22

    Funny how 6% are atheist or agnostic but on CNN comments it trends toward an overwhelming number of people who truly hate anyone who believes in God.

    March 29, 2013 at 9:30 am | Reply
    • dumbasfock

      You noticed that too I see. I would have put it at somewhere around 30% based on daily interactions with the general public...60% on CNN

      March 29, 2013 at 10:21 am | Reply
    • buck cameron

      Please don't confuse hate and pity.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Reply
      • ogre12

        no need to pity Christians...we have figured out much that you will, unfortunately, never understand and that is the pity.

        March 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
      • Goddog

        Ogre12... "no need to pity Christians...we have figured out much that you will, unfortunately, never understand and that is the pity." That's right... you have some magical decoder ring that gives you magical insight that can't be understood by people with no magical decoder ring and that makes you better than others, right? All religions make the same claims using the same methods as evidence that they are the ONE true religion. It's like one big rorschach test. Yawn...

        March 29, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • okiejoe

      Many people just aren't brave enough to admit to themselves or to others that they don't believe in God. They have been thoroughly brainwashed.

      March 30, 2013 at 9:59 am | Reply
  13. Kenny Blair

    Maybe some people show up at church every week because God is real? Maybe there is more to life then a bunch of preprogrammed chemical responses? If not, we as humans are to be pitied.

    If you read the Gospels you will find that Jesus had the most trouble with the established religious leaders of his day. (They wanted to kill him) Do not let confused or corrupted religious leaders get between you and your creator. This will only turn you into a cynic.

    March 29, 2013 at 9:34 am | Reply
    • Kevin

      There is evil in the world challenging the foundations of truth. Stay strong brothers and sisters!

      March 29, 2013 at 11:04 am | Reply
      • Robert

        Evil is a concept that only exists in the minds of humans! There is no "magic" force of evil that causes otherwise intelligent people to do selfish and malicious things! People are just as imperfect and unpredictable as the rest of the universe! People who choose to act benevolent are considered "good" and people who choose to act selfish and malevolent are considered "evil", but these are merely human concepts we use to evaluate the intent and effect of our actions. The only "force" that controls this is our own minds!

        April 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  14. bencoates57

    There is so much more to the universe than what we can see. Only a fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum (most of which is capable of doing profound damage to us) is visible. Eventually science will catch up with what we can only intuit indirectly through symbols. Things like ghosts and precognition will be recognized as a natural condition of the planet once we build a bridge to those phenomena from what we currently recognize as our body of knowledge.

    I already have compelling anecdotal evidence of precognitive dreaming (dreams as symbolic blueprints of future states of consciousness) but until we can provide an explanation (i.e., cause) that connects the anecdotes to what is presently accepted members of our common sense ...

    All in time.

    March 29, 2013 at 9:50 am | Reply
    • Kevin

      The bible has the same evidence...

      I support you ideas here. And in searching for the portal you will find the operator on the other side. God was the first scientist.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • weirddreamsorg

      I've had a number of detailed precognitive dreams too, as have many many others. My opinion is, they can be explained by the relativity of simultaneity. The content of my precognitive dreams is identical to my own opinions so I think I am the one generating this content. If one's consciousness during sleep stops travelling through spacetime, it's "now" or it's "past" will encompass more time than one's waking timeline. We know that motion slows down time and our waking selves are moving through time space, seeing things, generating brain waves etc.

      My theory is, when we are asleep and in a different timespace of "now" we access these "future" brain waves (that are in our sleeping "now") and these are the origins of our dream content. We can't remember our dreams very well because when we wake up, these brain waves of future events don't exist in out waking time line. They would have to be consolidated physically in brain memory immediately upon waking for them to existing in our waking timeline.

      Accepted theories of physics can be used to explain precognition, we just need to get over our bias against the phenomena.

      April 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  15. Darrill Bell

    Glad we could all be pot shards at your dig, Paul. More daff excuses to show that people made God and not the other way around.

    March 29, 2013 at 9:50 am | Reply
  16. Bostontola

    As an atheist, I agree with the author. Humans are intensely social and religion is social. Humans accomplish things in groups, religion promotes close groups. It clearly has "won" on the fitness landscape and will continue to until an atheist alternative that has strong social benefit emerges.

    March 29, 2013 at 9:54 am | Reply
    • dumbasfock

      Thats a little less likely than you think to happen. If athiest were the most organized group of humans helping humans on earth I would still worship God. God and his believers arent going away until He takes us away. Organized feild trips for the athiest lobby would likely hvae an effect but I am a Christian because of Jesus Christ...not because I feel good when I eat a pot lunch with other believers (even though as we all know pot lunches are awesome).

      March 29, 2013 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • Believer

      society, and religion agree on one thing....you are known by those you hang out with... you will be like them, act like them and have the same beliefs as them....Church is just a place people who believe the same thing can hang out together. same as a bar for drunks..
      the difference is in the results of the gathering...more people die leaving bars than churches...unfortunely more people come out of church thinking their better than others...Problem is both places are full of true believers and equal amounts of hypocrites.

      March 30, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Reply
      • lngtrmthnkr

        wellsaid but some go simply to enjoy the spirit,where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name I am there.

        April 1, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  17. TAK

    "So why do people show up at church? Because people show up at church."
    A rephrasing of "Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd."
    But I prefer to worship Yogi Berra who said, "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

    March 29, 2013 at 9:58 am | Reply
  18. JusDav

    there will always be a god belief as long as people do not attain the ability to take credit (and fault) for their lives.
    kind of like there will always be booze, so that people can "relax" and "forget" for a moment all the troubles and stress in life.
    but to believe in an all-powerful being that watches us... well... no
    whatever it takes to get you through the day is fine. but if I stand on one foot to relieve stress, then just let me do that.
    I do not "make" you quit holding your belief in a god, not matter how silly I think it is, so let me believe as I do.


    March 29, 2013 at 10:03 am | Reply
    • frespech

      JusDav- I agree with you some Dav, but I see no reason why people of opposing view points cannot enter into discussions regarding such views. I certainly don't believe as you do but it is always interesting to hear different views and upon what said views are based upon. Anyway have a good day.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:39 am | Reply
  19. JusDav

    just something to make you think.

    I have several good friends. when we get together and order pizza, five of us cannot decide on one topping. we end up ordering two pizzas, one half and half. that is the way of people.

    so... how can hundreds of thousands, even millions of people believe in the same "god". they are just following like sheep.
    not a good human characteristic feature in my opinion.

    believe what you will, learn from others, but do NOT follow blindly. that just leads everyone into troubled waters


    March 29, 2013 at 10:07 am | Reply
    • Kevin

      I agree. Do not follow blindly, read the guide that has been around for several thousand years.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:15 am | Reply
      • okiejoe

        OK, but read it with an open mind so you can see the contradictions and the applicability to a pre-scientific culture.

        March 30, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Let There Be Light

      JusDav... You're following Lucifer blindly, so what's the difference? I'd rather follow God an yday than Lucifer...

      March 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  20. deniz boro

    Erick Fromm gives a general concept in his book "Fear o Flying". Although democracy and human rights and various social benefits offer people freedom, most people are just not mature enough to benefit from their rights to make their own choices. They are perfectly happy when it is dictated to them in one way or another.

    March 29, 2013 at 10:19 am | Reply
    • Isabel Wright Wing

      Erica Jong write Fear of Flying, and it was on a different topic. Eric Fromm wrote a lot of things, but you may be thinking if The True Believer.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Reply
    • lngtrmthnkr

      not so Denny, many people come to God after a lifetime of making their own way and paying a heavy price in loss and mistakes.only to come full circle .

      April 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  21. ontheotherhand

    Too many amateur "scientists" of our day are charlatans (too many actual scientists too). Truth is nobody really knows, and the pseudo-scientists damage science by stealing its ethos to make it do something it's not meant to. Ignorance, but that's really not an excuse, and less damage isn't done to science because those who misuse it don't understand what they're doing. So, while you may call believing in God silly, your dogmatic disbelief is equally silly. You're simply putting your faith there is no God against the faith of ppl who believe in God. The only scientifically defensible position is we don't KNOW, and science may not be the best tool to dig at that question anyway.

    March 29, 2013 at 10:37 am | Reply
    • Kevin

      If we dig deep enough and look at empirical evidence across multiple disciplines, we will find that events in ancient scripture are supported by our findings. Hop on an asteriod or comet and dig, there will only be one text that will adequately explain what we find.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:23 am | Reply
    • NorCalMojo

      You've elevated science to a religion. You worship truth and are willing to fight about it regardless of how little it effects our lives.

      If there is no God and we're just spinning through space and passing time before our extinction, then there is no harm in believing that the world is only 6000 years old. It doesn't really matter one way or the other who believes what.

      It's certainly not something worth fighting about.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:43 am | Reply
      • Mike

        Uh, if there is no God it makes life that much more important because it's the only one you've got. Religion is a man made tool to control the masses, nothing more, nothing less. Are there some good stories and lessons to learn, sure, but there is also much strife in this world because of religion. Plus, only 1 religion can be right? Are you sure you picked the right one?

        March 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
      • Let There Be Light

        Mike... Some people are so gullible they will believe anything. And so have you. Some fool came along and told you religion was a man made tool and you fell for it, hook line and sinker. And now you are deceived. You should have asked them to prove it to you. You're going to be real surprised when you eventually find out they lied to you. Trust me, that day will come...

        March 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
      • okiejoe

        As long as you don't start burning people who disagree with your idea of God.

        March 30, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  22. dwight

    There are plenty of people that study God by themselves and recieve satisfaction, so religion isn't always about church, but about God. God has gone away in many peoples life and they replace Him with things that seem to make them happy for awhile.

    March 29, 2013 at 10:42 am | Reply
    • cindy

      So true Dwight.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • Domine

      God never existed. Hitler once said that the people will fall more easily to a big lie than a small one.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Reply
      • cedar rapids

        and hitler himself was catholic so that shows he knew what he was on about.

        March 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  23. mk

    Churches are for people who want to mix and mingle with people who believe the same tripe that they do. I remember that feeling...it feels good to have other people confirm and agree with the same thing you've been sheep-herded to believe.

    March 29, 2013 at 11:00 am | Reply
  24. AmazingThisGuyIsAProfessor

    It's amazing this guy is a professor. He's pretty full of himself and has little or no reasoning skills. The educational system in this country has collapsed into narcissistic self-serving and self-relativizing pseudo knowledge.

    March 29, 2013 at 11:14 am | Reply
  25. Domine

    Just because you feel it, doesn't mean it's there. Favorite Radiohead song speaks so well on that matter.

    March 29, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
  26. yosemite sam

    Religion is dying- and this will solve many world problems.

    March 29, 2013 at 11:29 am | Reply
    • snowdog

      Religion is dying????? That is why 90% of us believe in God.

      March 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        Those numbers are off. The rate is declining and will continue to as people realize the truth. There might be a higher power but it is nothing we can understand. There certaintly isn't some spirit in the sky watching our every move. Religious DOGMA is BS!

        March 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
      • Religion might die

        But the word of God shall never pass away my friend. You sadly will, and you better chose to serve God or the Devil. Its not too late!

        March 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Hof

      Really? Voltaire predicted, in the 18th Century, that Christianity would be extinct within one hundred years. About a half-century after his death, his house had been bought by an evangelistical organization that brought in printing presses to distribute Bibles.

      March 29, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Reply
      • hahahaha

        Amazing piece of information! thanks

        March 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Domine

      well, it wont be in our lifetimes, but eventually reason will prevail. As for world issues, I agree. Looking at the news, a good chunk of global issues have theistic religions at the root of its issue. The Israel-Palestinian conflict for example is essentially stupid because it is fueled by religious intolerance. Judaism and Islam both claim the land and will not share.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  27. NorCalMojo

    It's nice to see people finally taking this to the next level.

    Our ancestors were just as smart as we are today. There have always been disbelievers. There have always been people who distrusted priests. Hundreds of faiths have been proven to be hoaxes or frauds but we keep replacing them.

    There's obviously a human need for them or we would have scrapped religion millenia ago. It's hubris to think we can just toss it aside and be done with it.

    I've been an atheist my entire life and I think self delusion may be the most rational philosophy of all. If there is no Divinity, it doesn't really matter what people believe. Abstract "truths" that don't really effect our lives have no intrinsic value. A god that doesn't exist doesn't care about what is true. If it doesn't matter, and a delusion makes them feel more happy, secure and frees them from basic questions of human existance, it's the most rational approach.

    If we're just organisms that happen to exist on a watery rock that's the right distance from it's sun, then we might as well believe what makes us the happiest.

    March 29, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • HitchedBritches

      You make a good point, assuming that we each live in a vacuum. The problem is that religious beliefs are dominant and affect believers and nonbelievers alike. Think about all of the people who have been shunned, imprisoned, or killed because they either didn't believe altogether, or didn't believe the right way. It matters when others' beliefs affect laws, policies, etc.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  28. sybaris

    "Why god won't go away"

    Which god?

    March 29, 2013 at 11:37 am | Reply
    • hahahaha

      certainly no Elohim

      March 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  29. Kujtim

    This is such a biased and naive article. To think that this is true across the board, and to stereotype in such a way, is absolutely naive and poor on the part of the author. While not everyone, I believe the majority of people are drawn to churches by the living and loving God who is alive and active in people's live. You will never be able to come to understand this through scientific experimentation, neither through your surveys, but only when you have personally been awakened by your spiritual death to a new life with God, and his Son.

    March 29, 2013 at 11:40 am | Reply
    • lngtrmthnkr

      the deeper I go in science and cosmology, the more I see and admire the brilliance in the hand of God.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  30. Bill

    "Why god doesn't go away"

    Because delusional dimwits are easily duped.

    March 29, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Reply
    • ogre12

      unfortunately friend you are the one duped. 2+ billion Christians are not wrong. You can put your hands over your ears, close your eyes and go lalalalala all you want but in the end you are the one who has been fooled.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        Haha, that just means there are 2 billion idiots out there. Sounds about right.

        March 29, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
      • hahahaha

        couldn't have said it better!

        March 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
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