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6 other calamities blamed on divine retribution
Destroyed vehicles and rubble in Minamisanriku, Japan
March 16th, 2011
04:55 PM ET

6 other calamities blamed on divine retribution

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Age-old questions about divine punishment are back. Again.

On Tuesday, the governor of Tokyo apologized for saying the earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of Japanese were divine retribution for national egoism.

Television and media personality Glenn Beck, meanwhile, has sent mixed messages about whether he thinks God is behind Japan's natural disaster. “I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes,” he said Monday, adding he's “not not saying that, either.”

“Whether you call it Gaia, or whether you call it Jesus, there’s a message being sent and that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well,’” Beck said. “Maybe we should stop doing some of it.”

Blaming human sinfulness for natural and man-made disasters is nothing new. “This kind of thinking is actually typical rather than atypical in world history,” says Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion professor and CNN Belief Blog contributor.

Here’s a list of natural and man-made calamities that have been attributed to divine retribution for human transgression. Let us know what others should make the cut.

1. The Haiti earthquake

A day after Haiti’s devastating 2009 earthquake, U.S. Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said the disaster was provoked by the Haitians' "pact to the devil."

The “700 Club” host said Haitians had entered that pact to gain independence from French rule in the early 1800s. “They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story,” Robertson said. “And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "

“Ever since,” Robertson continued, "they have been cursed by one thing after the other." The magnitude 7.0 earthquake claimed more than 200,000 lives.

2. Hurricane Katrina

A handful of politically conservative Christians blamed 2005’s Hurricane Katrina - which struck New Orleans, Louisiana, and left more than 1,800 dead - on the Crescent City’s embrace of gay pride events.

“All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens,” John Hagee, a Texas-based evangelical pastor who leads the Christian Zionist movement in the United States, said after Katrina. “I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are - were recipients of the judgment of God for that."

3. The September 11 attacks

Two days after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the Rev. Jerry Falwell said the attacks were, at least in part, God’s judgment on those who would secularize American public life.

“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen,'” Falwell said on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club" program.

"God will not be mocked,” said Falwell, who was made famous by leading the Moral Majority in the 1980s.

In a phone call to CNN later the same day, Falwell stepped back a bit, saying that only the hijackers and terrorists were responsible for the attacks.

But Falwell reiterated that forces trying to secularize the U.S. “created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812."

4. The Civil War

Abraham Lincoln entered the White House conceiving of God as a distant creator. But the presidency transformed that view into one of a God who acts in the universe. The turnaround was triggered largely by watching the Civil War’s casualty numbers rise into the hundreds of thousands.

In 1862, Lincoln scribbled down his thoughts about God and war. “I am almost ready to say this is probably true - that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet," he wrote. “He could give the final victory to either side any day - Yet the contest proceeds.”

Lincoln elaborated in his second inaugural address in 1865, framing the Civil War as divine punishment for slavery, which he considered a sin. It was his last speech to the American people before his assassination.

5. The Holocaust

During and after World War II, some Orthodox Jews attributed the murder of 6 million fellow believers to Jewish transgression. Many in that camp pointed a finger at Zionists, who they accused of trying to establish Israel too soon, before the Messiah’s return.

“There were groups that claimed this was divine punishment because there were no other theological options,” says Bernard M. Levinson, a Jewish studies professor at the University of Minnesota. “Their own piety made things difficult.”

More recently, one of Israel’s leading rabbis generated controversy for claiming that last year's devastating fire in the Jewish state - the worst in the country’s history - was divine retribution for Jews failing to observe the Sabbath.

6. The biblical flood

The God of the Hebrew Bible is frequently portrayed as a ruler who doles out major rewards - and some very harsh punishments. One of the most famous is the flood in Genesis, which God orchestrates in response to human wickedness. He allows the righteous Noah to build an ark to ride out 40 days' worth of rain.

Widely cited as the archetypal act of divine retribution, some biblical scholars say the story was intended less to warn of a vengeful God than to establish the role of human agency in world events. Levinson says the story is a counter-narrative to The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian tale that involves a massive flood but that depicts humans as powerless in the face of capricious gods.

“The author of the flood story is saying that God doesn’t act randomly, that God responds to human action,” Levinson says. He notes that the Noah story is set in prehistoric times, which he says shows the narrative is meant to be taken as metaphor, not as a practical explanation of natural disasters.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Asia • God • Holocaust • Japan

soundoff (939 Responses)
  1. MJD

    In reading the comments to this article, it appears to me that this is an argument about what I see as beyond argument, irrational. I view such exercises of the mind as misdirected, as futile. I want to explore what we share, what we have in common that would not make for argument. In my view, argument, difference have to be the most sinister aspects of life that I have to endure in this existence.

    March 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  2. Gaunt

    Two people pass away.

    One was a monsterous murderer in life, who had a propensity to violate his victims and brutalise them before they died. He has lived his life on the principle of hurting others for fun, and particularily liked abusing children. On his deathbed, he realises the horrible futility of his life, and bursts into tears. He realises the damage he has done, begs for honest forgiveness, and accepts JC into his heart, repenting wholeheartedly of his vile ways.

    Person two was a good man, who lived his life to help others. He set up foundations for the desperate and disenfranchised, worked in third world countries helping the poor, gave away all his profits to the needy, tended the sick, never turned away from anyone in need, and never asked for a single thing in return or any aknowledgement. He lived a life of charity, peace, honesty, self-sacrifice and love. He was a Hindu.

    Which of these men does your 'all Good' god let into paradise, and which gets sent to burn down below?

    And based on that how DARE you claim that your god is 'good'?

    March 17, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Jenn

      You have posted this twice now that I can see. I love this argument – it is always the good Hindu who never finds Christ and the evil man who does – both ficticous situations designed to get the Christian to take on the role of God and judge hearts. Not biting, sorry. For what it's worth, I think it is much more likely that the monsterous murderer never realizes his need for repentence, and far more likely that the good Hindu does. Anyone who genuinely wants a relationship with God will find Him. I find it hard to believe the Hindu in your scenario would not discover this, after all, as you have painted him, he is as close to Christ as a human could get.

      I am not trying to sound dismissive, and apologize if I do, I am tired. I am just not sure that hypothetical discussions of this nature are helpful to either point of view.

      March 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Glenn

      Bravo Jenn I have enjoyed reading your posts

      March 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Jenn

      Thank you for your kind words Glenn. I hope you have a nice evening.

      March 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • momof2

      thank you! Any religion that preaches that death row converts Henry Lee Lucas and Aileen Wuornos go to heaven while Mahatma Gandhi and HH the Dalai Lama of Tibet will burn in hell is a religion I want no part of. I'd much rather spend an eternity with those two gentlemen, and Anne Frank, Einstein, and Marie Curie than killers Lucas and Wuornos, baptized Catholic Hitler, Jerry Falwell and Fred Phelps.

      March 18, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  3. Salty Bob

    In the beginning man created the gods

    What I think of organized religion. I hope you gleam a small bit of useful information as I have. What games religion is playing in America and the world today? We live in a rare time and country where we can choose for ourselves how much or little Religion we want in our lives, but the followers of most religions just don’t understand the word no! Not in my life not in my schools not in my government, NO! is the choice I have made for me and my family, the following reasons are part of the problem as I see it.

    First: religion is in no way real. The word religion or god is nothing more than an expression or product of human fear and weaknesses or imagination in some cases. The Bible/Koran, a collection of ancient myths and stories borrowed from many different cultures over hundreds of centuries or longer. Sadly the followers of Christianity, Islam, and others want to make decisions for us all based on there interpretation of books that are in no way real. These groups are working hard and spending millions trying to influence our politicians to pass laws based on there interpretation of these books. Trying to convert the USA into a religious state. I hope to never see any religious icons on our flag, because then it would be a good time to leave.

    Second: Religion no longer has a place in the real world. It divides us as a people to choose ignorance over logic, to forsake the future for a ruthless past. A Wall of Separation is supposed to protect us from all religious infringement upon our school’s teachings of science to find real truth and knowledge. Not to pass out fairytales to our children of some aged dogma from an era long dead, our children deserve better.

    Many of these groups place supernatural abilities on some of its members, born of a virgin or walk on water or cure the blind sick or to fly. Throughout history you will find many who have claimed the same feats, again they are all wrong. No interpretation no matter how subtle can change the fact these are nothing but stories meant to entertain or teach something to the people of that era nothing more.

    Religion, as an idea has been with us before recorded history from early man’s worshiping of nature to Charlemagne’s murder of the innocent in the name of Christianity, to jets crashing into towers in the name of Islam. Coerced observance is the main method almost all these religions use. Worship me or you will be tortured for all eternity or murdered out right. Fear mongering, or coercion is tyranny! Remember the Dark Age’s religions rule in that dark, distant past didn’t serve our ancestors well it certainly won’t serve us any better today! These are the labels I proudly wear heretic, infidel, atheist, man of science, freethinker.

    Third: We put our trust in our elected officials to maintain the wall of separation, to prevent religion’s ever reaching grasp from tainting the consideration of new laws, as well as research designed to help many! This country was not founded on the rule of any ones religion, but more the lack of religious influence in the governing of this country. But time and again you hear religious overtones spouting out of our leaders, The wall is crumbling. The time for the burning of witches, belief in a flat earth, the murdering of doctors, and crimes against women and children or religions many other immoral and vile acts committed against humanity as a whole can no longer and should no longer be tolerated no matter what religious book or god demands it.

    Anyone of good conscience should agree with what I have said and ban together, so we can bring this country the very world we live on into the 21st century free of these groups hold on our minds and revel in all the promise this century has to offer so our children's children's children will look back in pride an see we did what we did for them and there posterity. This is after all a very small world and a grate leaping point into the vast unknown. I so hope more minds are opened and see beyond the centuries of engrained dogma. I just hope it`s not layed to waste by then.

    March 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      News Item: "The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on a measure to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the national motto and to encourage its display on public buildings, including schools."

      Stop the Insanity!!!!!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Lynn

      Salty Bob, I couldn't agree more. I'm ashamed to admit that it took me 40 years to become a non-believer and guess what? I am so relieved! People should stop trying to wrap their brains around something that doesn't make any sense. I believe in science because it gives us answers, solutions and cures. Religion gives us fantasy about a big man in the sky watching everything that is happening all over the world at the same time and deciding every second who should live and who should die. And in order to believe it all you must have FAITH! Yes...it takes an enormous amount of faith to believe in the unbelievable and I'm tired of the whole charade. I too am proud to be an Atheist!

      March 18, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  4. Barry

    Faithwon,

    Thank you for your kind note.

    –Barry

    March 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  5. Jesse

    ...i wonder if anyone realized the irony in "god's plan" with the civil war fiasco, where abe made his last address saying it was god's punishment for slavery. it was his last speech, and yet, because it praised god's actions, i bet no one considered apparently "god's punishment" for abe abolishing slavery, because it should be well known that SLAVERY, in fact, is FAVORED in the BIBLE.

    March 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Jenn

      I beg to differ. Slavery is not favored in the Bible. Did it exist? Yes. Is it recorded as part of history? Yes. Favored? No.

      http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-slavery.html

      http://www.equip.org/bible_answers/does-the-bible-promote-slavery-

      March 17, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Karen

      Genesis 16:2
      so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

      Genesis 16:3
      So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.

      Genesis 21:12
      But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

      Leviticus 22:11
      But if a priest buys a slave with money, or if slaves are born in his household, they may eat his food.

      Leviticus 25:44
      “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.

      Leviticus 25:46
      You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      1 Samuel 8:17
      He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.

      1 Kings 2:40
      At this, he saddled his donkey and went to Achish at Gath in search of his slaves. So Shimei went away and brought the slaves back from Gath.

      Ecclesiastes 2:7
      I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.

      Jeremiah 34:11
      But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.

      Acts 7:9
      “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him

      Ephesians 6:9
      And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

      Colossians 3:22
      Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.

      Colossians 4:1
      Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

      1 Timothy 6:2
      Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.

      Ti-tus 2:9
      Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them,

      March 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • Jenn

      @Karen – I would encourage you to read the articles I posted. I would also caution against cherry picking scriptures to prove a point – on either side of this or any issue. It is a slippery slope and, as everyone knows, you can make the Bible say anything you want with this practice. The Bible is meant to be read in its entirety, with an undertanding of the type of writing, author, audience, purpose, history, customs, practices, etc. Not an easy task and something that can take a lifetime.

      March 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Jenn

      One ther quick link – commentary on Leviticus.

      http://www.rbc.org/questionsDetail.aspx?id=46110

      March 17, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • LJ

      Jenn, thanks for taking to the time to post. It's not often this forum gets to see true Christians like you taking their time to join the discussion.

      "he Bible is meant to be read in its entirety, with an understanding of the type of writing, author, audience, purpose, history, customs, practices, etc."

      I have been using the phrase read the whole thing and put it into historical context. But, I think you said it better than me. LOL!

      March 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Muneef

      Karen.

      Well glad to have read your comments quoted from your bible....although sad to see that it is as it seems the core heart of dispute, considering Ismael as a slave through which the Arabian line came from is the reason for not accepting the message of Muhammed SAW even if he was right....since he is derived from a slave son of Abraham??
      The verses clearly shows that they were manipulated in favor a certain party "The Israelites"....

      Strange how we see that the Quran come to free people slavery, while in here encourages towards slavery from all nations other than Israelites??
      Any way in Islam if a slave was to born a son of her lord then she becomes to be his wife and the son becomes his son...and that was the law...

      No wonder so many atheists in your society in disbelief of your bibles....your bibles reduced messangers of God in your eyes, while Quran has paid them more respects than any of your bibles....Messengers of God were Killed when they brought any thing that evil ones did not want....Although Abraham Lincoln was no messenger of God but still he was killed for ending slavery....?? The words of men are more than the words of God in your stated verses of bibles.... Ego failure to accept the truth that came from slaves has ended many nations....take the few examples from the middle east when the slaves of the deaf regimes became to rise up for their rights....so now seriously why angry when it was told in the Quran to Muslims not to take a Jew or Christian for a protecting friend....simply because you were looking down on them as slaves in your eyes who came with the truth that it can not be accepted from slaves....Honestly it is a total shame that you see your selves as superiors and free while all others are inferior and slaves....!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Magic

      Jenn,
      "The Bible is meant to be read in its entirety, with an undertanding of the type of writing, author, audience, purpose, history, customs, practices, etc."

      I have read the Bible (not quite cover to cover, but very much of it... and in context) since I was a believer for many years. It was composed for very primitive, uneducated, supersti.tious people, for the most part to civilize and control them. Magic and fantasy was liberally included to appeal to them, as was fear and trembling and severe punishments, both here and in the imagined 'hereafter'.

      Some of the authors were charlatans and shamans, some were sincere, but mistaken, mystics; some were kings, poets and songwriters. Many were evangelical zealots. If that weren't enough, only some the misunderstood, mistranscribed, mistranslated writings were chosen to be included by early churchmen and councils and by a committee beholden to a 17th century British king.

      There are some pearls of wisdom for peaceful human behavior in the Bible (which can certainly be found or deduced elsewhere), but in the main, it is a work of historical fiction, myth, legend, supersti.tion and fantasy.

      March 17, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Jenn

      @Magic – I respectfully disagree with your assesment. I posted this previously, but feel that it deserves repeating in light of your comments:

      There are many Christians who, like myself, who know why we believe what we believe.....and do our very best to be respectful of those with other beliefs. I do firmly believe that, while I am called to have faith, it is not a blind faith. There are many scholars and brillant minds all over the world who hold to the truth of Christianity, so it is hardly fair or honest to pretend that the only people on earth who are Christians are the ones too dumb to know any better. When someone of an opposing view plays that card, I immediately stop listening, as it tells me they either a) have not done their research or b) don't have anything else to say.

      March 18, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  6. ron

    this is rediculous

    March 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Reality

      If there were a god, he/she/it and/or spirit would not tolerate the stupidity of Beck thereby proving there is no god. Ditto for all others who consider natural disasters as being the work of some god.

      Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, sto-cha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-ga-ries of its local star.

      ////////////

      March 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  7. Come on

    God is not responsible....... bad things happen when God's blessing is not present. Man has cursed the earth and humanity all on its own. A curse is separation from God. And that is where we're at. Retribution is just leaving us to our own devices.

    March 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  8. Lindsay

    At least the governor of Tokyo didn't blame everything on gays, as the dimwits in the U.S. do.

    March 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I think it is perfectly obvious that soldiers die in war becuase there are gays who think it is OK to be out of the closet and earthquakes are caused by immodest women showing cleava.ge.
      The righteous religionists of the world should rise up and publically execute Elton John and Dolly Parton to set an example.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  9. Jenn

    I do have to go, but I will leave you with this. Many Christians don't know what they believe or why they believe it. That is incredibly unfortunate because they are often quite loud. Please don't paint us all with the same brush, any more than it would be fair to do that with atheists, agnostics, etc. There are many Christians who, like myself, who know why we believe what we believe.....and do our very best to be respectful of those with other beliefs. I do firmly believe that, while I am called to have faith, it is not a blind faith. There are many scholars and brillant minds all over the world who hold to the truth of Christianity, so it is hardly fair or honest to pretend that the only people on earth who are Christians are the ones too dumb to know any better. When someone of an opposing view plays that card, I immediately stop listening, as it tells me they either a) have not done their research or b) don't have anything else to say.

    Some resources that present alternative views to many here include http://www.equip.org and http://www.gotquestions.org

    I enjoyed our brief exchange today and wish you all the very best.

    March 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Godless

      All the best to you too Jenn!

      March 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • vel

      the usual claims of the OneTrueChristian, Jenn. You all think your version is the "right" one and have no more evidence than vermin like the Westboro people.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Jenn

      vel – I am sorry that you feel that way. Some simple reserach will show that real Christianity and the Westboro folks are in no way compatible, and a comparison implying that they are demonstrates that you either a) don't understand either or b) have been seriously jaded by religion in the past. I wish you all the best.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Jenn

      @Godless – thank you and have a great day.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • SHRIKE

      @vel – reserve your troll anger for those who deserve it, ie. the westboro vermin. Jenn is the least offensive christian i've encountered on here. she has neither spouted off the normal dogmatic rhetoric, nor attacked anyone who didn't agree with her. In fact, she has listened to reasonable counter-arguments and still maintains her own beliefs, without resorting to reiterating christian dogma at us. so unless someone deserves to be attacked, reserve your bile for those people. show some dignity,honor and respect.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Godless

      Gotta agree with shrike here – Jenn is the most reasonable Christian I've seen on this site in a long time. Heck, I wouldn't even say Christian, I'd say person. Nothing she has said has been an attack. I may not agree with her, but she has not been vile or rude in any way.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Jenn

      Thanks Shrike and Godless – you all are very kind and I appreciate it. Thanks so much.

      Now, someone make me get back to work! :)

      March 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  10. SHRIKE

    Who will we blame when the zombie apocalypse kicks off?

    March 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      George Romero. He has foretold it.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Godless

      The real question is, who will be to blame if humanity doesn't survive the zombie apocalypse? We've seen enough and read enough to put up a pretty good offensive/defensive strategy.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      NATO or the UN.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It all depends on the origin of the Zombism.
      The most likely catalyst for the imminent reign of the undead was revealed in the doc.umentary film "Redneck Zombies" in which a group of hillbillies distributed mason jars filled with toxic nuclear chemical waste believing it to be moonshine.
      This same film-making company successfully discredited evolution with their masterpiece "Pteradactyl Woman of Beverly Hills" and demonstrated the danger of contraceptives in "Killer Condom (The Rubber That Rubs You Out)"

      March 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • SHRIKE

      Keep your bunker secure and your ammo dry. Aim for the head – 12ga 00Shot puts them down with alacrity.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  11. Jessica

    Hurricane Katrina – The preachers need to realize that the gay section of New Orleans was the least damaged section in the entire area. If anything was being said by god it is that he loves LGBT people.

    March 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  12. SHRIKE

    Jenn – what does believing in evolution have to do with your morality question. morality is dictated by societies' mores, values and laws. life in the universe is, as far as we know, exceedingly rare and precious. although to be fair, sometimes the gene garden needs to be weeded.

    March 17, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Jenn

      It just doesn't seem to fit to me. If the driver behind evolution is the survival of the fittest, and we are but animals subject to this process just like any other animal, then why would we care about killing? Where do societies' morals, values and laws come from if society is made up of a bunch of animals who are just trying to survive? Shouldn't we be trying to wipe out Africa? That would save money (not wasted on food, meds, etc.) and resources for the rest of us. For that matter, why do we have any charity at all? If you can't care for yourself, starve to death, survival of the fittest.

      I have just always found it difficult to simulataneously hold to belief in evolution in the face of the fact that humans clearly do not follow the behavior that would be expected of a species wired for survival of the fittest.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Godless

      Jenn, the driver behind evolution is not survival of the fittest. Please see the responses to your prior post for more info. You're starting from a flawed perspective.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • SHRIKE

      Well to quote Nonimos who said this very well "some scientists have hypothesized that empathy, altruism, cooperation, etc. are evolutionarily favorable traits. In other words, humans have evolved certain traits of socialization that have given us an advantage in surviving and reproducing. These traits, mainly empathy, lead us to not like indiscriminate killing or senseless death." If humans did not have these survival traits, we would have killed each other off long long ago. That makes sense to me.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Jenn

      Just saw them and gave a quick response.

      Also, just to clarify, most Christians who have done their research have no problem with micro-evolution, so it is important that one makes a distinction about what evolution he/she is talking about when debating.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Godless: Survival of the fittest DOES drive evolution, but it drives it at the level of species and/or traits, not individuals.

      @Jenn: If humans were to start indiscriminately killing other humans, or even fail to provide for the common good, how long do you think the human species would exist?

      March 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Jenn
      There are 5 laws in the theory of evolution – survival of the fittest is but one mechanism.
      1) Evolution as such.
      This is the understanding that the world is not constant, nor recently created, nor cycling, but is changing; and that the types of enti.ties that live on it also change.
      2) Common descent
      This is the understanding that every group of living enti.ties that we know of on this planet descended from a common ancestor.
      3) Multiplication of species
      This is the understanding that species either split into or bud off other species, often through the geographical isolation of a founder species.
      4) Gradualism
      This is the understanding that changes take place through the gradual change of population rather than the sudden production of new individuals.
      5) Natural selection
      This is the understanding that individuals in every generation are different from one another, or, at least some of them are. In every generation some individuals survive and reproduce better than others. Their genes multiply.

      Nature is inherently anarchic. Evolution does not progress with a specific goal in mind, it is merely adaptation.

      Morality as such is an evolutionary adaptation unique to humans.
      We are selfish creatures by nature, yet our survival depends on cooperation. In order to balance these two conflicting instincts, mankind has had to develop rules that allow room for both.
      These rules are not the same for all communities – hence we've had so many different types of religion and government throughout history.
      Religion binds communities together by giving a common frame of reference. Shared fears (like divine retribution), hopes (like going to heaven) and rituals allow the instinct for self preservation to extend beyond one's self and immediate family.
      This is why the great majority of evolutionary biologists find no conflict between religion and science – as long as religion is recognized solely as a social adaptation.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Jenn, there is no such formal division as "micro" vs. "macro". There is only evolution.

      Furthermore, there is no requirement to "believe" in evolution. Evolution is simply the best reasoned set of conclusions that can be gleaned from looking at the available evidence, and such conclusions can be modified as our understanding improves or changes, and as new evidence comes available. Modern biology and medicine stand firmly upon it, so it is pretty pathetic for people to reject it for the obvious fiction of the Christian bi-ble. In your case, you mainly seem to be falling back on wishful thinking, which is carrying you on the fallacies of your beliefs, instead of looking critically at the evidence.

      Why would you place your faith in the horrid god that the bi-ble describes, when there is no substantial evidence for it and a lot of evidence against it? And furthermore, given that the bi-ble is demonstrably self-inconsistent and incorrect on various points of biology?

      So how is your mustard tree growing?

      March 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Jenn

      @Peter – the mustard seed was the smallest seed that would have been familiar to the audience in question at the time.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Jenn

      @Peter – also, the folks at Berkley disagree with you about whether there is micro and macro evolution.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Jenn

      Here's the link and yes I meant "Berkeley", please excuse the spelling error.

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/home.php

      Ok, really must work now :) Have a great day!

      March 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • False Reality

      "It just doesn't seem to fit to me. If the driver behind evolution is the survival of the fittest, and we are but animals subject to this process just like any other animal, then why would we care about killing? Where do societies' morals, values and laws come from if society is made up of a bunch of animals who are just trying to survive? Shouldn't we be trying to wipe out Africa? That would save money (not wasted on food, meds, etc.) and resources for the rest of us. For that matter, why do we have any charity at all? If you can't care for yourself, starve to death, survival of the fittest.
      I have just always found it difficult to simulataneously hold to belief in evolution in the face of the fact that humans clearly do not follow the behavior that would be expected of a species wired for survival of the fittest."

      What you are explaining is called "Social Darwinism" but really has little to do with evolution. It is rejected by Science completely. There is a benefit to being kind to your fellow man, there is an evolutionary imperative to continue that trait. This is why we developed things like empathy, because it benefits us as social animals to work together towards a common goal.

      Most Scientists believe we this is why we developed morality and empathy and why we reject such things as Social Darwinisim. If you kill the old and the weak, one day I may become weak and then I will be killed. It is not in ones own best intrest to follow such lines of logic and also has NOTHING to do with evolution.

      March 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  13. Barry

    Some students of the Bible view the Flood of Genesis, as God's punishment for sin; others understand this to mean that the destruction of the flood (or chaos) was the result of the arrogance, inhumanity and violence of humans towards each other.

    In other words the second group considers the flood to be the very evil that humans commit against each other, for it is God who warned against such actions, to prevent this very tragedy.

    This second group does not see the flood as being literal or something that pleases God; they see it as something that grieves God, who is heartbroken by the evil (chaos) that the people he created are unleashing upon the earth.

    Of course this second group does not see the flood as a one-time occurrence. They see it as a cycle, which is acted out again and again, all throughout history.

    Again it is always God who must come along and pick up the pieces, with a broken heart.

    The Old Testament book of Job considers carefully the matter of why the righteous suffer. It considers the suffering of a righteous man named Job. The suffering of Job is the suffering of Israel, who endured suffering under the Assyrians and the Babylonians (See: II Chronicles, Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc.).

    This book of Job looks carefully at the suffering of Job (the man) and Israel (the people of God), as they suffered things that seemed terribly unfair and senseless.

    Job’s friends come and try to explain why God has done this, but their statements and explanations are inadequate, insufficient and incorrect.

    In the end God speaks, and everyone is silenced.

    Job (and Israel) are never fully told the meaning of their harrowing ordeal, but in the end they are better for their experience. They also learn that there is a certain amount of necessary evil, in order for life to be life, and for life to be vital and real.

    For those who would speak for God and explain what God is and does, they would do well to remember the words of Koheleth (Ecclesiastes), when he says:
    …let your words be few; for God is in heaven and you are on the earth, so let your words be few.

    March 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Colin

      You should have written the last line frst and stopped there.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • vel

      God murders everyone in teh "flood" (not that it actually happened), children, everyone. Is this just and how does being murdered factor into free will? And what about Job's family, just as good as Job but murdered for a bet with "satan". Oooh, God gave Job a "new family". What decent man would accept a new family as a replacement for his old one, other than a slavish sycophant who was not interested in justice at all but was simply afraid.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Jenn

      @vel – and what if those children were immediately taken into paradise and if asked would never desire to spend another second on earth? And same for Job's family? Clearly I have no way of knowing if that is what happened, but I think it is worth noting that God's perspective is eternal while ours is limited and finite.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Godless

      Jenn, it sounds like rationalizing or justifying something you don't understand so that you don't feel sad about it. What if those children instead went to hell? Is that not just as likely?

      March 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Jenn

      @Godless – based on my reading of scripture, no, I don't believe it to be just as likely. Jesus loved children, there are many examples of that. There are other passages in scripture that allude to children going to heaven, though there is certainly no way for us to know "for sure" from where we sit. I only proposed the above scenario to say that it is at least possible that we don't have the full picture and things that we see one way here might look different if we did.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • faithwon

      Barry, that was the most eloquent statement of God's love I've heard.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  14. Jenn

    Here's a question – evolution is all about survival of the fittest, right? So explain to me why all the evolution advocates are so appalled by killling in any cases really....who cares, less people competing for food and resources, etc. At the very least be honest like Peter Singer...if you are believe in evolution then you need to be in favor of killing the weak, disabled, etc. That is a consistent point of view anyway. A moral compass when we are supposed to be about survival of the fittest doesn't make sense to me.

    March 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Colin

      Let me see if I can illuminate you. Because believing in evolution does not make a person a cold, genocidal maniac. That's the Bible. Where do you get off accusing us of being some kind of degenerates because we can understand high school biology, you Bible cuddling half wit.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Godless

      "Here's a question – evolution is all about survival of the fittest, right?"

      Wrong. Therefore, the rest of your argument is based on a false premise.

      If evolution were only about survival of the fittest, humans would eat everything, including house pets and each other (I know, it's not like that doesn't still happen, but I'm talking generally).

      March 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Tim

      This is a much too simplistic view of evolution. Evolution is not about the survival of the fittest – Natural Selection is. A person or persons who choose to eliminate other, weaker persons is not an example of Natural Selection. Morality is a product of evolution as are all other traits, physical and emotional.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • SHRIKE

      Jenn – what does believing in evolution have to do with your morality question. morality is dictated by societies' mores, values and laws. life in the universe is, as far as we know, exceedingly rare and precious. although to be fair, sometimes the gene garden needs to be weeded.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Jenn,
      Evolution is not "all about survival of the fittest," it is more about the best adapted or, "'better adapted for immediate, local environment', not the common inference of 'in the best physical shape'." (Stephen J Gould quotes form http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survival_of_the_fittest)

      In addition, some scientists have hypothesized that empathy, altruism, cooperation, etc. are evolutionarily favorable traits. In other words, humans have evolved certain traits of socialization that have given us an advantage in surviving and reproducing. These traits, mainly empathy, lead us to not like indiscriminate killing or senseless death.

      Hope that make some sense and helps

      March 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jenn

      Ah, Colin, thanks for going straight to name calling. Something tells me you have had a very bad experience with religion in your lifetime. I am sorry for that. Thanks for the great debate though, very enlightening. /sarcasm

      March 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • CN

      "survival of the fittest," is NOT a command to only allow the fittest to survive, the way the bible commands you to stone adulterers. "the fittest survive," is an observation, and, whether we like it or not, true. children born with down's syndrome will, on average, not live as long as children who do not. modern technology will allow children with cystic fibrosis to live much longer than they ordinarily would, but, on average, they will still not live as long as children who do not. modern ethics demands that we do our best to help our fellow creature live their lives to the fullest, and that they should not pay the penalty for mere accident of birth.

      the only inconsistencies are the god-buggerers who cherry pick the bible.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Jenn

      @Nonimus

      I can see your point in some ways – there are certainly situations in which these traits possibly give us an advantage in surviving. But, there are other situations in which they don't necessarily – for example, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on healthcare for people who are never going to be able to be productive members of society. We (the world) spends billions on Africa, though things never seem to improve. Those resources could be allocated to other areas that show promise. (Disclaimer: I don't agree with either of these things, I am just throwing them out as examples of altruism, etc. not really being an advantage to the overall human race's survival).

      I appreciate your feedback. I have to get back to work in a few and hope you have a nice day.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Jenn

      @CN

      "modern ethics demands that we do our best to help our fellow creature live their lives to the fullest, and that they should not pay the penalty for mere accident of birth."

      Why? Why should I have to do this?

      March 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Magic

      Jenn,

      ""modern ethics demands that we do our best to help our fellow creature live their lives to the fullest, and that they should not pay the penalty for mere accident of birth."

      Why? Why should I have to do this?"

      Enlightened self-interest. If it is not ok to kill others indiscriminately, then it is not ok for them to kill you (and yours). If it is ok for you to assist others, then is is ok for them to assist you (and yours).

      March 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Godless

      @ Jenn

      Because it is the right thing to do. I don't need the carrot/stick of religion to know that.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • vel

      what a hateful person you are Jenn. No delusion in any afterlife makes all life important. I would ask a counter question, why are Christian ever sad at the idea of people dying? Aren't you all sure that everyone is getting their "just" reward? Why don't we see Christians volunteering to help shut down the failing nuke plants or removing land mines, in order to get to heaven faster?

      March 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • CN

      recent events should more than adequately answer your questions.

      we live on a planet whose crust has not entirely cooled, where much of it is too hot or too cold to live on. by mere accident of birth, you could be born into an area like sendai, and mercilessly be wiped away by the ocean. extending a hand to help is a recognition of the fact of that randomness, that by forces outside of our control, something similar like that could happen to us (as it did with katrina, as it could at any time in california, which itself is very susceptible to shifting of underlying tectonic plates). a casual study of the history of our planet will demonstrate a cold, hard fact–that 99% of species that have lived here have been wiped out, and the earth didn't bat an eyelash. it'll do the same to us, no problem, no questions asked, pray to your god all you wish. we are alone here and there will be no force from on high to save us–it hasn't done so for the 200,000 years we've been here. we have to join together, and make common cause if there is to be any chance of beating these horrendous odds.

      on a more personal note, especially about health care, take into consideration the young man who made the "app to god," who is now in a coma. his piousness did nothing to prevent that car from hitting him in the late evening hours and driving off, leaving his head bleeding on the side of a road, where he eventually suffered a seizure and could not be roused. by random chance alone, something like this could happen to any one–you can pray, not smoke, exercise, eat vegan, all it takes is some yahoo not paying attention or drunk of their ass, and you could end up like this kid. should his family end up bankrupt from the 1000s of dollar his health care will cost, for something that could just as easily happen to any one of us? i say no, and frankly, that's reason enough.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Jenn

      @vel – because valuing life is a fundamental tenet of Christianity.

      Also – how do you know the religions of those working on the nuclear power plant? Or dealing with land mines? You don't know that and neither do I. I do know that there are people all over the world giving their lives everyday for the sake of the Gospel. I also know that there are countless Christians engaged every day in ministering the poor, providing for those in need, etc. The fact that everyone you know who is a "Christian" is not doing this (to some degree, obviously all are not 100% engaged in that alone) says more about the faith of those people than it does about Christianity.

      Here's one of my favorite examples of an amazing Christian woman who has given up her life for the sake of those in need: http://www.amazima.org – amazing, amazing, amazing.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • CN

      btw, jenn, why don't you tell us about kenichi suzuki. what was his reward for doing the best he could to help victims of the tsunami? oh, that's right, his whole family was wiped out. why don't you tell us how that fills out god's plan. why don't you watch the video where he barely holds back tears when asked about it, and why don't you go ahead and tell him that god will make it up to him. or maybe we could (grotesquely) posit that he did something we don't know about to deserve this horror?

      or maybe we could accept the TRUTH, as outlined earlier. we are alone here on this unstable rock. we don't "do" anything to bring these natural disasters on. we have to help each other, because if we don't, no one else will.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Godless

      "@vel – because valuing life is a fundamental tenet of Christianity."

      @ Jenn – but Christianity doesn't have a monopoly on morality. It likes to think it does, but it's just not true.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Jenn

      @CN – you clearly know I can't answer those questions. Suffering is terrible, and while I believe God can (and does) use it for good after the fact, I don't believe He is dishing it out. We live in a fallen world (I know, cliche, but true in my opinion) where suffering and pain are inevitable parts of life. I volunteer in the realm of human trafficking so I am not unfamiliar with some of the worst the world has to offer as far as pain and suffering goes. Nevertheless, I have faith that, rather I can understand everything or not, God is still in control and will ultimately renew His creation. I believe this because of my own research, my acceptance of the truths of Christianity and my personal faith which has only grown stronger the more I have learned over the years. Beyond those things, I have seen the power of prayer in the name of Jesus with my own eyes and have experienced the peace of His presence in the midst of chaos – that really does pass all understanding. I certainly understand that these subjective evidences aren't sufficient for most, which is why I listed them last.

      For what it is worth, I don't think that us being all alone on this rock as you say would be that terrible – at least not terrible enough for me personally to need to make up a coping mechanism to deal with death. I just believe, to the very core of my being, that not to be the case.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Jenn

      @Godless – I agree completely, I was just responding to the "why don't Christians want everyone to die" line of thinking.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • CN

      jenn–did you seriously just bring up uganda? do you mean the same uganda where christian evangelicals encouraged the promulgation of anti-so-dom-y laws, which have made ho-mo-se-xuality punishable by death? that uganda? the one where these laws subsequently resulted in the caving in of david kato's skull in his very own home? the one where the media that outed him "apologized" by saying it was wrong to kill him, that the right course of action was to jail, prosecute, and then *hang* him? that uganda?

      for every "good" christianity insists it brings, it also brings hideous evil that even the most demented could never dream of.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • LJ

      "it also brings hideous evil that even the most demented could never dream of." And non-Christians don't? We are all human beings, including Christians. There are really good Christians, and there are really bad misguided ones. You can't condemn and entire group of people based on what a few in the group does. That would be like saying because Hitler was evil all Germans are and that simply is not true. Or worse yet because WBC is evil all Baptist are, that too is not true.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Jenn,
      Thanks for your response.

      It is a complex subject and I'm not sure I understand all of it, but I would suggest that a trait's evolutionary value is based on its average effect not specific scenarios and also that "best adapted" does not mean perfectly adapted, there are always trade offs. For example, one hypothesis for why we still walk on two feet, as opposed to quadrupeds, is that it is more efficient for traveling long distances, but it sucks as a means of escape. On average though, there was more benefit in long distance hunting and gathering than there were drawbacks for slow get-aways. Additionaly, the savings in energy could also be redirected towards support our big brains, which proportionally burn a lot of calories, which allow us to think our way out of tight places instead of running, but which also cause a high infant mortality due a big head causing a more difficult birthing process and longer maturity, but which ... and ...
      Like I said a complicated subject.

      So while your altruism example may seem evolutionarily unsupportable in it's effect, it may be that the altruism trait has evolved becuase of simple reciprocity, in which more often than not, if I help someone else out when they need it there is more chance that someone will help me out when I need and therefore we both survive longer. Or perhaps, and this seems far-fetched, but what if supporting everyone actually produces more Beathovans, Einsteins, Hawkings, Salks, etc. which in turn provide a better survival rate for all of us.

      I'm not qualified to say this is really what happened but it seems logical to me that it or something like it would be feasible given what we know. And, I'm sure there are better explainations from those far more qualified than I.

      March 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • CN

      LJ–the whole "you can't condemn a religion by the actions of a few" is a tiresome argument. the easiest way to demonstrate this is via the catholic church and the child abuse scandals, where it is one of the most grotesque, stomach-churning defenses there is. that is to say, "a few bad nurses don't make nurses bad, so just because a few catholic priests abuse children, doesn't mean the catholic church is bad." there is a fundamental difference: nurses, as a body, do not wag their fingers in humanity's faces, claiming moral authority and telling everyone what to do and how to live their lives. if the vatican wants to pretend to be the moral compass that guides the rest of humanity, YES, I'M SORRY, they have to be morally perfect.

      similarly, as demonstrated in this thread alone, christianity makes the breathtaking assertion that it has a monopoly on morality. if it's going to make such grand claims for itself, then NO, it should not be responsible for such hideous evil. when will you christians understand this? if you're going claim the right to conveniently by god's final arbiters on earth and to tell other people how to live their lives, then you're going to have to take flack for it, MOST especially if that right leads to hideous evil like the case of david kato. or did you think that was okay? the comparison with germans is fatuous in the extreme; being german is not a code of living, the way christianity is.

      March 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Jenn

      @CN – if I claim to be a Buddhist but do not behave in accordance with that belief, and in some ways behave in opposite to it, is it fair to then judge Buddhism as a whole based on my actions? What if there were thousands or millions acting like me and calling themselves Buddhists? Then is that fair to judge Buddhism by our actions, even if they are not in line with the teachings of the religion at all? Or is more fair to say that I (and others like me in this scenario) are just using the label without understanding what it means? Jesus himself says that there will be many who will claim to have been his followers but will ultimately be determined not to have been. I assure you I am as appalled as you are by the actions of supposed "Christians" that are clearly in opposition to true Christianity – your catholic priest example being an excellent one. It makes being a Christian frustrating at times because so many use the term without having any understanding of what it is, what it means and what it requires. That is very unfortunate.

      March 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • momof2

      the statement "survival of the fitest" never appeared in Darwin's writing. If you were even minimally educated you'd know that.

      March 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Tina

      Jenn, you are not a Bible cuddling halfwit. Bible "cuddlers" are not half-witted either. They actually have God given wisdom.

      March 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Jenn

      I don't need to defend my education, so I won't. However, it seems that everyone here understands that "survival of the fittest" and "natural selection" are interchangeable. I apologize if I initially misspoke.

      March 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  15. aizen

    God has nothing to do with thi...it is earth doing what it has done for billions of year...space is a dangerous place so are the planets...why is it that human like to dump all on God or think they are speaking for him?? he/she is beyond our comprehension therefore we cant speak for him or fathom him by reading a outdated book or rites etc..

    March 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Billions of years, you say?? Haven't you heard the good news? It's only about 6000 years old...

      March 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  16. John

    Disasters are either caused by nature, chance or man. Everything else is a fictional construct. End of this discussion.

    March 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  17. Tom Daigon

    Time for the religious fruitcakes to make up explanations for things they cant understand. Yes the Gods must be angry when Zeus flings a lightning bolt that hits your house. Its so sad that so many human beings are really just dumb scared animals.

    March 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  18. lex

    Just got this message: Yeah, I am one real mean SOB. God.

    March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Jesus

      God just enjoys seeing people swirl around in tsunamis and bounce up and down in earthquakes.

      March 17, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  19. Martin Dressman

    It is always about us humans – what we've done and not done, good and bad, sin, retribution, punishment, heaven and hell, etc., etc., etc. Man am I tired of "God" being represented as beyond reproach, having no responsibility for the tragedy of life. It is us humans who experience the pain. I don't remember signing up for any of this. Free will!? Give me a break! I think that it is high time to get the focus off ourselves and each other an on to the source of this corrupted existence. I don't know about you all, but I have been doing the very best I know how with what I have been given in any moment in my life. I think it is important for the human race to band together, because, in my view, we are needing each other's support. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I know that I only have 20/20 hindsight. A very cruel creation. Much of what I have gained in my life has come at the end of pain. I am reminded that I am not "God," but I see no redeemable function in pain, especially the kinds of pain that I see foisted on the innocent in these recent, natural disasters. I believe that there is a "God," but I don't see her, him, it as friendly or compassionate. In my experience, I need all of you, every one of you – black, white, red, yellow, christian, muslim, hindu, buddhist, agnostic, athiest, male, female, gay, lesbian, transgender, of every language, of every political stripe, etc., etc. – for me to be able to endure the heartlessness of this "God." You are my brothers and sisters.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • comment

      re (physical) pain, it's a basic biological function, you know? Eg. when you touch a hot plate and it burns, you usually don't touch it again, or if you do you risk (permanent) damage to body tissue.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  20. PRISM1234

    God never said there would be no calamities on this earth. In fact He said there would be, and as time progresses even more.... Book of Revelation speaks of it in details, and Jesus said there would be many natural disasters , plagues and famines prior to the end of times. Why is this such surprise?
    But before you bash God for why does He then allow it.... God created this earth and everything in it perfect. But all the misery and sorrow, including natural disasters , sickness and death is the result fo MAN'S SIN, THROUGH DISOBEDIENCE AND REBELION TOWARD GOD. Anyone disputes that it is so, just look at the people of this world today. Never before ordinary people were so into-xi-cated with the love of their sins, indulging in them, and being hostile to anyone who speak against their ways, even hating them, because they count indulging in them expression of their freedoms.
    And they think that God is evil for sending disasters? I don't think so! No one knows the reasons some disasters happen, and it's not given to us to understand all mysteries. But when, NOT IF, but when THIS country gets it's day of rec-kon-ing, there will be no need to auestion WHY? Some of the posts here already define what I'm saying in this post!

    March 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Q

      Maybe if your God wasn't a bloodthirsty, child murdering tyrant, people might find Him more worthy of respect. That you do find a bloodthirsty, child murdering tyrant worthy of respect should be cause for self-reflection, but I understand your crippling fear of death rationalizes away all discordant thoughts. Still, perhaps that's the test. Like Abraham, at the last minute, God will change his mind and judge you for readily accepting and defending the vicious, cruel and capricious deity portrayed in the Bible. "Did you really worship me believing I drowned the world, killing children and infants? Did you really worship me believing I ordered children and infants be slaughtered?...What kind of sick person would worship such abhorrent acts?"

      March 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Jess

      Couldn't agree more with you.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • ManzMan

      .. .. .. Thanks Q .

      March 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @PRISM12345,
      I think I've asked this before but, if the world was made perfect, then man sinned causing the world to become imperfect, then Jesus died for our sins, then why wasn't the world perfect once again?
      perfection – sin = imperfection
      imperfection + savior = perfection?

      March 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Charlotte

      What a crock. Natural disasters are just that – natural disasters. It's a tree/forest, thing though. The same earthquake occurring at a plate interface that is not submarine would not have generated a tsunami. Major earthquake anywhere BUT near a populated area is a geologic data point – it's the presence of people that make it into a disaster. As sea level continues to rise and more people live on and near coastal regions , the level of calamity will increase. This is not some "divine" doing, it's simple facts, logic and science. As for other "disasters," if you really want to think of the Holocaust as a disaster, it's a manmade one. God has nothing to do with it. If She exists at all she does not orchestrate these things or interfere with them, She just watches. She might have initiated the universe (if you believe in that stuff) and the physics laws that govern everything, but She certainly isn't going to go mucking with them out of some annoyance with the activities of one species of mammal. People are so self-centered it's mind-boggling.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Jesse

      its funny how an omniscient being supposedly created something so perfect but yet even humanity can see the imperfections in this world. by what standard, exactly, is this world "perfect"? seriously, id like to know. face it, god, if there is one, is not omniscient nor omnipotent. if you say he is, then he created man (adam & eve, ridiculous story) knowing beforehand that they were going to sin. however, this apparently doesn't seem to be in his plan when you read genesis, because god "finds out," "discovers," or what have you, that adam and eve disobeyed and sinned. so, if that didn't go according to god's plan, where is his omniscience? nevermind the fact that you're not omnipotent if you don't create perfect beings that you intended to be perfect...

      March 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • chris

      As far as this world being perfect, it's not. The bible states that this is a fallen world, ruined by sin. In the very beginning it was perfect, but has since fallen into turmoil and will continue to fall into turmoil.
      Yes God knew that Adam and Eve would sin, but he gave them that option because He wants us to have the choice to choose Him or not....that's the only way to create faithful followers, is to give them a choice, otherwise it's not love...Love always has a choice.
      And as far as God being suprised, He wasn't. My interpretation is that when God was calling to Adam in the garden, asking "where are you" it spoke of the instant seperation from God that the sin had created. God sensed the separation, and immediatly tried to reach out. As God reached out, Adam hid, and we've done the same thing ever since.

      March 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Jesus

      Zeus is really fed up with the inroads made by Christianity and Islam. He is the MAN and he is really angry that others have displaced him. The Sun God, Ra, is also getting ticked off.

      March 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Ra, Ra, Ra...

      March 17, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • PRISM1234

      Nonimus,

      .....You said, why wasn't the world perfect once again after Jesus died for our sins?

      Well, friend, Jesus said that He goes to prepare a place for us, that where He 'll be, we also be with Him..."
      God has time, in fact He is the creator and the Lord of Time. We measure time with earthly measures, but to God one day is as thousand years,and thousand years is as one day...
      So, when God has something He knows will happen, He allows (our earthly) time to pass, because that way He allows things to be accomplished, and ri'pe'ned for His will to come to pass. The age of New Te-stament time, the Church age, was not spoken of in the Sc-ri-ptures, and even as the Old Testament saints prop-hesied about it, to them it was a mystery what they were talking about. Yet the greatest works of God's grace and mani-fe-station of His mercy toward mankind has, and still is happening in this age, because that's the age when He is building His spir-itual house, His dwelling place which is the body of Christ, the living te-mp-les, made out, not of flesh and blo-od, but of the Spirit of God.
      So, friend, God has time, and when our human time has pas-sed, and God's purposes are accomplished, He, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, will come in the clouds with glory, and this earth will not gr'oan under the c'urse as it is now. He will rule and reign in truth, righteousness and justice. So, you see, He will make all things perfect, and all things NEW! :)

      March 18, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • Nonimus

      @PRISM1234,
      You didn't actually answer my question, did you.
      I didn't ask, when will the world be perfect
      I asked, if sin is the source of imperfection in the world and Jesus' blood washed away sin, why is the world still imperfect today?

      March 18, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • PRISM1234

      Oh, no Nonimus!
      I DID answer your question! In fact, completely and thoroughly! You missed it, because you don't see what God is doing now! I myself (meaning- my life) and people who KNOW Him are the real proof of His work in this dispensation of time. Sorry that you missed it! :)

      March 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @PRISM1234,
      If I understand correctly, you are basically saying, 'He's working on it' through you and people like you. so it's not a reaction to sin or the lack thereof, it is through God's effort that the world is imperfect or perfect respectively. Which seems to me to indicate that "the Fall" didn't occur because of sin, per se, but because of God's effort in response to sin and was therefore God's choice to punish us.

      That sound about right?

      March 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • PRISM1234

      @ nonimus
      "That sound about right?"
      No it does not! But you could find out if you wanted too!
      There is a way, but you have to meet condition, and humble, sincere heart that seeks God with everything that's in it! And in this condition, go read Gospel of John. THERE you will find answers you're asking of me!

      March 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @PRISM1234,
      It seems like a pretty straight forward question to me, does sin itself cause imperfection in the world or not? I haven't even gotten to the question of how that might occur.
      And yet, you keep saying that I don't understand. Perhaps, it is you who doesn't understand.

      March 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Erika543

      @nonimus... I am hoping I can help answer your question to Prism. The reason why the earth didnt go back to being perfect after Jesus died for us is because (and this is what us Christians believe, some opinions may vary slightly though) the moment that Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree our 'innocense" was taken. There is no getting it back. We were all doomed persay. Then, once Jesus came, we had a way out of death. I believe that up until that moment no one could get to Heaven. The Jewish people believed (and still do) that when someone dies they go to Abrahams bosom, or a waiting room presay, until we are able to be in Gods presence once again. So, Jesus cleansing us of his sin with his blood gave us a way out for that. Christians believe that no one, NO ONE is good enough to get to heaven on their own. Hence, why the world is not perfect. Because humans by default are an unworthy bunch. Jesus work is not done yet though. We believe that when he comes back and conquers evil once and for all a new heaven and new earth with transpire for all his followers from all times and the earth will once again be perfect. Hell will be gone, because there will be no need for it.
      Some different opinions on this doctorine or theory is that some people believe that when we die we "sleep", and once Jesus comes back those that 'sleep' will be called up and judged and go their approrpriate place. Jesus came because we needed a savior, someone to give us a second chance, that we did not believe. I guess you can say that he took the blame for our sins. Instead of us taking the blame for our crimes and gonig to jail, Jesus did that for us with our get out of jail free card if we chose him. It had nothing to do with a perfect earth, at least not yet tll he comes back. So to answer your question, why did the earth not become perfect again? Well, only God knows, and it means he isnt done with his plan just yet. I hope that helps you understand from a Christians point of view! God Bless. PS...sorry about all the spelling errors!

      March 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.