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 Where is God in Japan?
March 20th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Finding faith amid disaster

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Around the world, people are still struggling to come to terms with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which have left more than 8,000 dead, thousands more missing and hundreds of thousand others homeless. The threat of a nuclear crisis only adds to the uncertainty.

In times like these, many people find comfort in their faith. But disasters can also challenge long-held beliefs. The CNN Belief Blog asked some prominent voices with different views on religion how they make sense of such suffering, where they see inspiration amid destruction and how they respond to people who wonder, “How could God let this happen?”

Rabbi Harold Kushner, author whose books include “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”

Whenever a disaster like this occurs, I go back to the Bible, to the First Book of Kings. Elijah, in despair over the situation in Israel, runs to the desert, back to Mt. Sinai to find the God of the Revelation to Moses.

"And lo, the Lord God passed by. There was a mighty wind, splitting mountains and shattering rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. There was an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake."

To me, that is the key: the Lord was not in the earthquake.

Natural disasters are acts of nature, not acts of God. God cares about the well-being of good people; Nature is blind, an equal-opportunity destroyer.

Where is God in Japan today? In the courage of people to carry on their lives after the tragedy. In the resilience of those whose lives have been destroyed, families swept away, homes lost, but they resolve to rebuild their lives. In the goodness and generosity of people all over the world to reach out and help strangers who live far from them, to contribute aid, to pray for them.

How can people do such things if God were not at work in them to lend a counterweight to a natural disaster?

The Rev. Tesshu Shaku, chief priest of Nyoraiji Temple, a Jodo Shinshu (True Pure Land sect of Buddhism) temple in Ikeda City, Japan

Buddhism is called a religion with no god. So we don’t think God caused this, according to the Buddhist way of thinking. We think of the law of cause and effect, searching for a cause. It is the same approach as science. The cause of this earthquake is the friction between the North American plate and the Pacific plate.

The Japanese are more focused on relationships as opposed to faith, feeling the pain of others. I have witnessed this at the time of the Hanshin Awaji earthquake. [In 1995, the Great Hanshin earthquake on the island of Awaji killed about 6,500 people.] There were many people who came to the affected area to help and volunteer.

There is a word, “earthquake children,” for people whose perspectives were affected by the disaster. They became very active in community service or became Buddhist monks. So people will be more spiritual, feeling the pains and joys of others.

The Rev. James Martin, Jesuit priest, culture editor of America magazine and author of “The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything”

For the believer, there is no satisfactory answer for why we suffer. Each person has to come to grips with that. It’s not as if some magic answer can be found. But the idea of God suffering along with us can be very helpful.

The Christian believes that God became human and that God underwent all the things we do. Jesus on the cross cried, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” Christians do not have an impersonal God, but a God who understands what it means to suffer. People can relate more easily to a God who understands them.

Where is God? God is right there with the people who are grieving and sorrowful. In my own life, when I have felt great sorrow I have trusted that God is with me in this and that I’m not facing my struggles alone.

Oftentimes people become more religious in times of sorrow. They find that they are able to meet God in new ways. Why? Because when our defenses are down and we’re more vulnerable, God can break into our lives more easily. It’s not that God is closer, it’s that we’re more open.

Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances

These sort of natural disasters become the collective responsibility of all mankind to mobilize our compassion and resources to ease the pain of the people who have suffered.

This disaster is not the result of any sins of these people; we need to be clear that there is no belief that these victims “deserved” it for any of their actions. Rather, Muslims see these kinds of tragedies as a test from God. Muslims believe that God tests those he loves, and these tragedies also serve as a reminder to the rest of us to remain grateful to God for all our blessings and cognizant that we must support those in need.

These kinds of calamities should push us in positive ways. They should strengthen our faith in God and in his goodness. We attribute the things we don’t understand to his limitless wisdom and comfort ourselves that he is with us and he loves us, so there must be some meaning in what has happened, even if it is beyond our comprehension here at this time.

We are trained by our faith that every suffering, whether big or small, brings us closer to God’s mercy and forgiveness, to the extent that the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) said, if you are walking and feel a thorn pierce your foot, you should know that even this little bit of pain brings you divine blessing and God’s forgiveness. These times of suffering give us an opportunity to demonstrate patience and faith, and therefore, become closer to God.

Every natural phenomenon challenges us as God’s trustees on this Earth, showing us that we should continue to study and explore ways of safeguarding humankind and all creatures from being subjected to this kind of devastation. It is the collective duty of all humankind to put resources in this and advance our understanding of how to respond to these disasters in a scientific way.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, writer and activist who founded the Unified Buddhist Church in France, and Plum Village, a Buddhist community in exile

As we contemplate the great number of people who have died in this tragedy, we may feel very strongly that we ourselves, in some part or manner, also have died.

The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. And the human species and the planet Earth are one body. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.

An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what’s most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have died: We can live in such a way that they can feel they are continuing to live in us, more mindfully, more profoundly, more beautifully, tasting every minute of life available to us, for them.

Sam Harris, author of books including “The End of Faith,” and co-founder and CEO of Project Reason, dedicated to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values

Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.

The only sense to make of tragedies like this is that terrible things can happen to perfectly innocent people. This understanding inspires compassion.

Religious faith, on the other hand, erodes compassion. Thoughts like, “this might be all part of God’s plan,” or “there are no accidents in life,” or “everyone on some level gets what he or she deserves” - these ideas are not only stupid, they are extraordinarily callous. They are nothing more than a childish refusal to connect with the suffering of other human beings. It is time to grow up and let our hearts break at moments like this.

The Rev. Franklin Graham,  president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization

I don’t believe God does want this to happen. I don’t think it was ever God’s intention.

We know that there are going to be storms in life. No matter what happens we need to keep our faith and trust in almighty God.  And I want the people of Japan to know that God hasn’t forgotten them,  that God does care for them and that he loves them.

We care and God cares, and we’re standing by them.

CNN's Carol Costello contributed to this report

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Belief • God • Japan

soundoff (1,886 Responses)
  1. Read some books other than translated versions of the bible

    Fun with BIblical contradictions:

    The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.
    – Ezekiel 18:20

    ... I the lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of
    the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth
    generation.
    – Exodus 20:5

    Those that seek me early shall find me.
    – Proverbs 8:17

    Then shall they call upon me but I will not answer; they shall
    seek me early, but shall not find me.
    – Proverbs 1:28

    March 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • greg

      Of course it can't be proven, but you likely went to Google, typed in "Biblical contradictions" or something of that nature, found a site, copied, and pasted. I doubt you have read (much less studied) the Bible from cover to cover, and thus, you are ill-equipped to point out apparent contradictions in the text. You'd be amazed @ what careful study of context can do to clarify some of these apparent contradictions...not to mention familiarity with the original language.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      The Bible also says, "There is no God," but if you look at the context that it's in, it says, "The fool hath said in his heart, 'There is no God.' "

      March 20, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  2. Read some books other than translated versions of the bible

    How about some more contradictions? Ok.

    11. God is the author of evil
    Lam 3:38/ Jer 18:11/ Is 45:7/ Amos 3:6/ Ezek 20:25
    God is not the author of evil
    1 Cor 14:33/ Deut 32:4/ James 1:13
    12. God gives freely to those who ask
    James 1:5/ Luke 11:10
    God withholds his blessings and prevents men from receiving
    them
    John 12:40/ Josh 11:20/ Is 63:17
    13. God is to be found by those who seek him
    Matt 7:8/ Prov 8:17
    God is not to be found by those who seek him
    Prov 1:28
    14. God is warlike
    Ex 15:3/ Is 51:15
    God is peaceful
    Rom 15:33/ 1 Cor 14:33
    15. God is cruel, unmerciful, destructive, and ferocious
    Jer 13:14/ Deut 7:16/ 1 Sam 15:2,3/ 1 Sam 6:19
    God is kind, merciful, and good
    James 5:11/ Lam 3:33/ 1 Chron 16:34/ Ezek 18:32/ Ps 145:9/
    1 Tim 2:4/ 1 John 4:16/ Ps 25:8
    16. God's anger is fierce and endures long
    Num 32:13/ Num 25:4/ Jer 17:4
    God's anger is slow and endures but for a minute
    Ps 103:8/ Ps 30:5
    17. God commands, approves of, and delights in burnt offerings,
    sacrifices ,and holy days
    Ex 29:36/ Lev 23:27/ Ex 29:18/ Lev 1:9
    God disapproves of and has no pleasure in burnt offerings,
    sacrifices, and holy days.
    Jer 7:22/ Jer 6:20/ Ps 50:13,4/ Is 1:13,11,12
    18. God accepts human sacrifices
    2 Sam 21:8,9,14/ Gen 22:2/ Judg 11:30-32,34,38,39
    God forbids human sacrifice
    Deut 12:30,31
    19. God tempts men
    Gen 22:1/ 2 Sam 24:1/ Jer 20:7/ Matt 6:13
    God tempts no man
    James 1:13
    20. God cannot lie
    Heb 6:18
    God lies by proxy; he sends forth lying spirits t deceive
    2 Thes 2:11/ 1 Kings 22:23/ Ezek 14:9
    21. Because of man's wickedness God destroys him
    Gen 6:5,7
    Because of man's wickedness God will not destroy him
    Gen 8:21
    22. God's attributes are revealed in his works.
    Rom 1:20
    God's attributes cannot be discovered
    Job 11:7/ Is 40:28
    23. There is but one God
    Deut 6:4
    There is a plurality of gods
    Gen 1:26/ Gen 3:22/ Gen 18:1-3/ 1 John 5:7

    March 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  3. Felicitations

    Articles about religion always generate the most comments. Those who don't believe - rather than ignore the article and go on to the next story - just can't help but respond negatively, either with snide or obscene comments, or with statements that attempt to refute every article of christian faith. It's fascinating!! There's no point in arguing with believers, whatever their religious affiliation. People either believe or they don't. We'll all find out in the end who's right. In the meantime, the believers live a more optimistic existence. Deo gratias!

    March 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  4. Believer

    Jesus Jesus Jesus.....sweetest name I know...fills my every longing...keeps me singing as i go!

    At this name...every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. "Jesus Christ is LORD! "

    March 20, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      Yes, I agree.

      March 20, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  5. Atheist

    because there is no God, or gods.

    March 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  6. ElPerrazo

    As a species we are destined to oblivion if we continue to believe in fairy tales of Gods and Heavens, rewards for believing, and death to those who don't. We have, generally speaking, 650,000 years (period between life ending events on average) to get our act together. God is a fantasy to explain that which we do not understand. I only wish statistics were a required field of study.

    March 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." II Peter 1:16

      March 20, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  7. John Richardson

    And the bands plays on ...

    March 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  8. Hindu_Person

    Yeah...you are right Jim...that why people should believe in Karma regardless of religion because then they know whatever is happening to them is just the reaction of their action.....Thats a bottom line ...So lets encourage ourself to do the right thing and if we are not happy, and if one thinks that "they are suffering change your action ....see how the results changes...Stop being cruel ....To any and everything ...

    March 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  9. Justin

    Why must author Sam Harris say in the article that God "is evil" if you believe he chooses to allow evil to exist? Thankfully, God is certainly there to help everyone through this difficult time.

    March 20, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  10. christlike

    Scientology = Atheism

    March 20, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  11. Romans 8

    1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
    26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[b] with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
    28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

    March 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • George

      Wow, you can paste scriptures, good for you. Now, lets see if you actually have a clue what it means. Probably not.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      This passage is one of my favorites. It's a very powerful passage. There was a time in my life when I suffered from a lot of anxiety, but after studying this passage, literally overnight, all my anxiety disappeared, and I felt a peace like I had never known before. How wonderful it is to have the peace that passes understanding.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Magic

      Romans: ...

      I would not buy a 'previously owned' donkey from Paul of Tarsus... why buy this sales pitch?

      March 20, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  12. untestableClaims

    "Sam Harris did not nail it. He created a logical fallacy...etc"
    sam's imperfect logic is not evidence for the existence of a god.
    please provide compelling, positive evidence that a god exists.

    March 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  13. Markus

    Yes airwx, time affects the validity of ideas. Modern ideas have the benefit of having to emerge with more facts under consideration (a longer gauntlet to get through). They are therefore more likely to be true.

    If I can't see it might still exist, but if it doesn't exist I will never see it, no matter how I look. If I never see it I have no reason to think it's real. Absence is evidence is evidence of absence. The lack of unicorns is evidence to their non-existence. This applies to everything not directly observed. There could be a planet out there with alien beings resembling mythological lifeforms, but I'm very confident that there aren't any unicorns on Earth. Or gods anywhere (since gods are supposed to be omni-present).

    Extra dimensions are extrapolations that await direct evidence. I don't believe in them with the same strength as I believe that the earth is round, but they have much more going for them than any gods.

    March 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  14. untestableClaims

    "If God really doesn't exist, why are you so adamant to prove he doesn't?"
    answer: if most of the planet worshipped Thor, and belief in Thor influenced politics,
    and all of your friends and relatives wasted a substantial percent of their lives and
    financial resources supporting the Church of Thor, and most children were brought
    up to believe in Thor or go to hell, wouldn't you point out to everyone that
    (a-hem) there is *no evidence* for the existence of Thor? well, maybe you wouldn't,
    but would you be upset at those who did point out that Thor is a waste of time?

    March 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      Thor has never given us a Torah or Bible, so there is no reason for any thinking person to believe in him. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has given us His Word. It is His Word that gives us understanding. Those who do not believe in God have not spent much time sincerely looking for the truth or examining His Word.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Magic

      Person of Faith,

      Thor's Books: Eddas (Norse epics); the Havamal (proverbs attributed to Odin). Odin is Thor's father, in case you don't know.

      March 20, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  15. William, NJ

    On this day of PURIM 5771, despite what the author pictured believes – that Hashem does not control the intricate workings of the world – and despite what many bloggers say, who believe that their ancestors came from monkeys (!), you should know one thing: Hashem runs the world – in the most intricate ways! Don't be fooled! Just think about it!

    March 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  16. Luis Wu

    God is in the same place he's always been. Nowhere. Why does CNN persist in posting ignorant nonsense like this? Are they trying to push that multi-mellinia-old book of myths and superst!tions on everyone? Are they now owned by the church? How utterly stupid.

    March 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Wu, just because you can't see God with your physical eyes doesn't prove that God is not there. Only with an open heart and the spiritual eyes of the heart can you really know when God is near you.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Marz

      @Wu..ur communist point of view is a load of crap..go drop it somewhere else ok....dont be ignorant of all the signs of god's existence all around us...life dont just come by from no where, some one needs to create it and maintain it. think of what would happen to you after u leave this world and so many other questions like this should give u the fact that god does exists.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  17. Maria

    Sam Harris nailed it. Thanks, Sam, for being the voice of reason.

    Now can someone tell CNN that there's nothing newsworthy about faith? I, for one, am sick of the media trying to jam religion down my throat.

    March 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • 29NPark

      Sam Harris did not nail it. He created a logical fallacy called false dilemma that is prevalent among those not formally trained in logic. Christians believe that God can be benevolent and let disasters happen. Alvin Plantinga free will argument effectively refuted the claim that God cannot exist because of human evil. There have been further extrapolations of his argument to show how natural disasters are compatible with a benevolent God. Harris doesn't include this option and therefore creates a false dilemma. His piece also philosophically begs the question, but that's another matter. Don't be so easily fooled.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Yeah

      Stop 'ramming religion down the throats of the American people'.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Kyle

      What exactly did Sam Harris nail, beside his lack of logic......Maria, if you or Sam can disprove the resurection of Jesus Christ, then you have accomplished that which you desire. Until then, Jesus is Who He says He is, and He came back from the dead. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Carla

      to 29NPark
      Where did you study philosophy or logic? Hmm, "I guess we're all people.. . " very deep. The bible is a collection of man made myths that has absolutely no proof and is inherently contradictory. It's use in an argument as citation or proof is specious and a priori (belief of god implicit in argument) .

      March 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Maria, if you are so tired of the media shoving religion down your throat, what are you doing here? Who is forcing you to read anything that has to do with God at all? If you were smart enough, you would just ignore every single articles that has to do with God, but instead, it seems that you and all of the Atheists/Agnostics are actually hungry for God, but at the same time rebel against Him. People like you are the majority who spends much more time on these type of media articles than most Christians and/or religious people do. DOESN'T MAKE SENSE, DOES IT??

      March 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Carla, if the Bible is just a book of myths that has absolutely no proof and is inherently contradictory, why will you or any Atheist/Agnostic read it at all? It is your choice not to believe in it, but it sure isn't your choice to stop us from believing in it.

      The Bible was not written to non-believers or to make believe, but it was written for us who believe that we may be able to discern the supernatural of God. The Word of God are pearls and not given to the swines who refuse to take the time to gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Only through the HOLY SPIRIT can one gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of these pearls.

      Carla
      to 29NPark
      Where did you study philosophy or logic? Hmm, "I guess we're all people.. . " very deep. The bible is a collection of man made myths that has absolutely no proof and is inherently contradictory. It's use in an argument as citation or proof is specious and a priori (belief of god implicit in argument) .

      March 20, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Read some books other than translated versions of the bible

      "Jesus is Who He says He is, and He came back from the dead. Put that in your pipe and smoke it."

      –Sounds like someone has been smoking something, alright....

      "People like you are the majority who spends much more time on these type of media articles than most Christians and/or religious people do. "

      –Well, since we don't blow our entire Sunday at church, we've got a lot of free time to kill.....

      ".Maria, if you or Sam can disprove the resurection of Jesus Christ,"

      –Not up to us to disprove it. We aren't making any fantastical claims. Up to you to prove it. Otherwise, feel free to disprove that I have an invisible pink elephant in my trunk which enters a 7th dimensional space whenever human eyes are upon it.

      Rose from the dead. Right. And whats with the body and blood cannibalism thing, anyway?

      March 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Carla

      Kyle – what are YOU smoking in your pipe? There is absolutely NO proof that jesus resurrected or preached after his death. His death is even in dispute. Some scholars believe he was hung, not crucified. The Jewish Roman historian Josephus mentions him as a trouble maker to Rome, but gives no objective support to his "resurrection." On one point you are absolutely correct, though. If jesus existed, and if he was crucified, and if he was resurrected, then there may be a starting point for discussion of religion. Alas, mankind has eternally made up stories to explain natural things they did not understand. fertility gods, harvest gods, lunar controlling gods – jeez, the list is as endless as the stupidity of theists. But that stance (believing in resurrection) is as ludicrous as finding special spectacles to interpret a special book, or hearing Allaha's ayat through Gabriel's whispers.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Felicitations

      You can believe or not believe. Your choice, certainly - but just seeing an article about God makes you feel religion is being jammed down your throat. Why are you so threatened? Can't you just ignore the headline and go on to the next article? Perhaps something is striking a chord in you. Submit.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Read some books other than translated versions of the bible

      "The Word of God are pearls and not given to the swines who refuse to take the time to gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding."

      Swines? Really? This quote encapsulates how destructive and ignorant the religious can be.

      Let's go convert some indigenous populations, ethnically cleanse some real estate, and then burn us some witches! Yee haa!

      March 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Carla

      I read the bible as I would any other collection of literary material that, in my opinion, educated persons should read. Myth or fact, it unfortunately has formed a great deal of western cultural thought. I read (and studied "scripture" for 10 years before forming an opinion, and in that time learned to weave incredible logical fallacies to accommodate its inconsistencies. I read other literature I don't believe – Lenin, Trotsky, Camus, etc. I read them to educate myself.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • An australian student

      Agreed! Sam Harris you're a beacon of hope and reason in a horrible sea of religious absurdity which scares me and should scare everyone. Please don't stop writing and speaking out – we need you!

      March 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  18. Jesus Believer

    I find it interesting when I read posts that have any hint of Christianity in it, the number of people who are so adamant to prove God doesn't exist. It reminds me of the billboards that are being put up that say you can have happiness, success, etc. without God. And many of the posts that say God doesn't exist often have messages of hate. If God really doesn't exist, why are you so adamant to prove he doesn't? If someone is an atheist, they would have nothing to gain by trying to convince the world that God does not exist. So why do you do it? As a Christian who believes, I know that the Bible teaches us to accept Jesus as our Savior and what He did for us by choice, and to grow the church by showing God's love for us and evangelizing to others. Yes, you can be "good" without God, however, the Bible teaches us that there may be blessings that you are missing out on by not believing. When I was not a Christian, I used to be so stressed about things that have happened, what might happen, etc. Since being a Christian, if you truly have a relationship with Jesus, you have this sense of unbelievable peace that I never knew as a non-believer. As an earlier person posted, Jesus does knock on the door of our hearts, but He gives you the choice to answer the door. If you choose to spend your life ignoring that call, then God will give you just that: A life without God both here on earth and after you pass away. I still would like to know, what do you have to gain by trying to convince others so adamantly that God does not exist?

    March 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • jo

      A very good argument.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Justin Miyundees

      Because when people take this world as a mere stepping stone to another world, the concerns and issues that threaten the environment are discounted.

      Also, the tribalism inherent in all religions leads to great strife.

      Further, every scientific discovery that hints that one of the accepted texts is flawed is met with resistance and disdain. Millions died in the black plague and the clergy blamed it on gambling and blasphemy. Stupidity costs lives.

      There's three good reasons but ultimately, it's ridiculous.

      Do you believe in Poseidon? Why not? Doesn't make sense?

      Now you know how we feel.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • bp

      Because we argue gods existence doesn't prove he exist. Thats circular thinking from reading your little black book. Us arguing god is meant more to help enlighten the people on this earth for reasons stated by the poster above. Religion segregates manking and cause nothing but sectarian idealogies that lead to vilolence while staling the advancement of mankind

      March 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Amen!!!! God bless you! This is indeed on of the best comments I have seen in a while.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • gmf

      I'll tell you why. It is because the delusions of primarily the christians, jews and muslims are so destructive to the rest of us.

      When Newton hit something he couldn't figure out he copped out and said only god could understand the movements of the cosmos. If he had not had such nonsense to fall back on, he may have stuck with it until he found the answer, as those after him did.

      How many other millions of minds have been limited by their willingness to leave a problem unsolved with the BS of "it's in god's hands" or "only god knows" or "god must have a plan"?

      I'm tired of financing wars that fools support because of some bogus religious issue.
      I'm tired of kids being told "we'll skip the section on evolution, because we all agree that isn't true". If your religious views clash with science, don't freakin take my tax dollars to NOT teach it.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Felicitations

      I like your comments very much.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Jowicr

      I argue for and against God on a regular basis. I can't know whether God does or does not exist, and I assume most logical people will agree that they can't either. They believe, they have faith, but they do not know. I like that you mentioned the peace you receive from your religion, as most adherents of religion (Muslims, Buddhists, etc.) feel this same peace. Also, people of a more philosophical bent feel peace in knowing that they cannot know. I'm of the latter persuasion, and I don't harm people because I believe it is wrong in almost every instance, not because God told me not to (He's never spoken to me personally). I would prefer people logically come to their own conclusions about what is right and wrong, because your own reasoning after careful consideration is a more solid foundation than a parent, or the Bible telling you what to do. At some point we must make our own decisions, for our own reasons, and that is truly virtuous. I fear religion because of its inability to control. This is normally the opposite argument that atheists tout, i.e. religion is too controlling. Its controlling nature is only a moral problem when the priest, preacher, imam, or leader is allowed to make his or her own inferences about what the text means and therefore what God wants. Then, the leader controls the congregation, who are many times blindly following instead of flexing their rational muscles. No religion is ALL good or ALL bad. For example, The Mayflower Church (UCC) in Oklahoma City is a very very progressive church that bases its entire doctrine on logical interpretation of the scripture. This is a church I could attend. Sadly many of the churches where I live (Texas) are highly conservative temples of ignorance, and I just can't attend. I think Christianity and Islam have been over-modified or either remained stagnant and are mere remnants of the spiritual faiths that they once were. The atheists you hear arguing against your God are simply people looking for an answer, as you once were. They are not bad people, nor are they superior in any way. Christians are not bad people, nor are they superior. Many Christians may seem arrogant because they claim to "know", but these people are misguided. Many people around the world do not want to die, and want to reunite with the family and friends that they have lost over the years – Christianity fills this desire perfectly and allows its believers to focus on the "here and now" now that they have realized the truth about the afterlife. Atheists don't have this luxury. If we discover anything outside of what the bible tells us (the age of the Earth, Dinosaurs, Gene theory, Physics, Space, the afterlife) it will likely come from an atheist. I do not think religious people are curious because they believe they have found the answer. I think it is more beneficial to retain a sense of wonder about the world. Christians could do this if they think independently, like the rest of us.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • apostle4jesus

      PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD. THE CRY TO THE LOST, THE HURTING , THE DYING. REPENT AND BE BAPTISED EVERYONE OF YOU IN TH NAME OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE REMISSION OF YOUR SINS AND YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST.THIS MESSAGE IS ONLY FOR THOSE THAT EXCEPT HIM. YOU CAN TURN AWAY FROM GOD YOU CAN SAY WHATEVER YOU LIKE FOLKS BUT ONE DAY !!!!!!!!! EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW AND EVERY TONGUE CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.YOU CAME TO LATE TO TELL ME THERE IS NO GOD .DON'T WORRY IF YOU DON'T NEED A SAVIOR HE WON'T BOTHER YOU .AND I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR YOU EITHER THEIR ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE HUNGRY AND WANT GOD .THIS MESSAGE IS FOR THEM AND OH ,JEUS BELIEVER THE RESON SO MANY OF THEM ARE TRYING TO CONVINCE OTHERS THAT GOD ISN'T REAL IS THEY ARE ON THE ENEMIES SIDE SO DON'T CAST YOUR PEARL AMONG THE SWINE. BECAUSE ONLY A FOOL SAYETH IN THEIR HEART THEIR IS NO GOD. YOU SEE GOD DOESN'T SEND PEOPLE TO HELL THEY SEND THEIR SELF THERE.. SOME FOLKS THINK THEIR SO SMART THAT CAN'T BELIEVE THERES SOMEONE SMARTER THAN THEM. THAT'S WHY GOD USES THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING TO SAVE PEOPLE'S SOULS.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  19. god is my Doctor

    to you believers,

    this question just popped into my head... who created the devil? and why?

    March 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      God, Jehovah, did not created the devil. Why, well, before the devil became evil, he used to be an angel who worshiped God on daily basis. Pride took over his heart and wanted to become God by turning a quarter of the angels against God through his lies. Well to make the short, God saw the evil things that Lucifer did and was thrown out from heaven along with the angels, who are now called fallen angels/demons.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Kyle

      If you don't believe, what do you care who created the devil?

      March 20, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      God created Lucifer, an angel of light, for his good purposes. Lucifer was good when he was first created, but he chose to rebel against God. Eventually, he will be cast into the bottomless pit. Until then, he is allowed to wreak a certain amount of havoc.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Ryan

      The devil was Lucifer. He was a fallen angel from heaven. He didn't abide by the ways of the Lord and became evil. It says it more in detail in the Old Testament of the Bible too. That is mostly all I know. Hope this helps.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      The believers are highly deluded. Both the devil and god are made up figures and all they have to show u is their collection of tales in the bible. It has been shown countless of times that the adam and eve story is a MYTH yet they refuse to think rationally and keep spouting off this adam and eve mythology.
      If adam and eve is true, please clear up these contradictions:
      1. FACT: If a brother and sister have a child together, there is a high probability of that child suffering from retardation.
      Based on this fact, why isn't most of the world suffering from retardation if we all came from Adam and Eve?
      2. FACT: The first early humans were walking this earth 200k-500k years ago, and came out of AFRICA.
      Based on this fact, how does the Adam and Eve story hold up to such a vast error in timescale? God created the world in 7 days, and even if

      you say that 1 day = 1000 years, the number is still way off!
      3. FACT: The stars we see in the night sky are just other suns (some larger than our sun, some smaller). They were also formed BEFORE our sun.
      Genesis 1:3 says: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. <– This means that the sun was created.
      Genesis 1:16 says: And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars

      also.
      Why did God make the stars AFTER our sun?? It contradicts FACT.
      If any of u believers can logically and rationally clear up these contradictions, i will concede that your adam and eve story is true.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  20. Markus

    Question for the religious:

    I can go on the Internet and read all kinds of crazy stories. Before the internet it was slower, but people were still pretty creative. There was Hercules and the Hydra and Thor and the Midguard Serpent and Ra and Osirus and the Wendigo and vampires and zombies and witches. So the question is:

    What part of 'ancient people made stuff up' don't you understand?

    March 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • david

      right on

      March 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • 29NPark

      That it doesn't engage an individual spiritually, philosophically, or emotionally on any level.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • airwx

      I find your question interesting. It implies that time affects anything. Is the discovery of the rules of displacement wrong because the came from thousands of years ago? Is the earth any more (generally speaking) round than it was 500,000 years ago? I find time to be a finite in the grand scheme of things. If M-theory posits 11 dimensions why do you believe it when you can only observe 4 of them? Isn't that the real clarion call of atheists...I can't see it therefore it doesn't exist?

      March 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Markus, what you fail to realize is that you have no proof that people worship these so call gods as the Bible have mention that many people went after idols and gods. What part of Jesus Christ is the Son of God don't you understand? How in the world are you going to prove that there is no God (see that I said God, NOT gods) at all?

      March 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Mao

      Even ancient people knew the difference between what was made up and real. hence why 1C Greeks religions used fictional places vs 1C Jews used real people. One was fiction and the other was fact (unless you're willing to say that Pilate, Augustus, St Paul, and other Biblical people never existed).

      March 20, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • jim

      airwx
      Actually thjat is the clarion call of logical positivists (many of whom may be atheists). Atheists just don't believe – for many reasons: illogicality, lack of proof, internal contradictions, Occam's Razor, belief in free will etc. Visible evidence is only one aspect of evidence – I've never seen an x-ray but I'm pretty certain they exist

      March 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Read some books other than translated versions of the bible

      "29NPark
      That it doesn't engage an individual spiritually, philosophically, or emotionally on any level."

      Neither does your god fable. And do you think that the Pantheon, the temple in Petra, or any of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World failed to engage their believers any less?

      @airwx "Isn't that the real clarion call of atheists...I can't see it therefore it doesn't exist?"

      Wow. Atheists make no such claim. More like, "I can't see it, but if you show me proof it exists based upon experiment and observation I'll accept that it does, happily."

      The religious make the opposite. "I can't see it, don't have any proof for it except for some really old stories, therefore it exists."

      March 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Jim....I've never seen an xray either, but their path/absorbtion, etc can be seen/converted into a viewable image on a film. Believe me, I've seen a lot of xray films....but I must say goodnight to all...Peace

      March 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Markus

      Mao, ancient people were very confused, and you have no excuse to trust them to get such important details right. The authors of the Bible could report those events with about as much accuracy as I can report on the events that occurred during the wedding of my great grandfather to my great grandmother: not much! There's lots of fiction out there with real characters. It's still fiction.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Markus

      HelsGod: Let me combat one fiction with another:

      "Your culture will adapt to service ours. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."

      One day thousands of years ago there was the first Christian, and one day soon there will be the last Christian. That's the entire story in the real world. Resistance is futile.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:36 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.