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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. bones1918

    @ dnfromge: really? If all god really is is santa claus, easter buny, tooth fairy, etc then why don’t the hoards of people who come to the CNN belief blog to post, over and over the "there is no god, show me proof" post the same things on santa claus or easter bunny blogs. I'm positive they are out there. the CNN belief blog is place where people write through-provoking articles challenging issues about belief. Atheists who hang out here have to have a motive. im just curious what it is. I enjoy having my faith challenged. I'm a smart guy with an advanced degree and have come to faith through both a visceral experience and a thought-based exploration of truth. Not all Christians (embarrassingly few, I admit) have a thought-based faith. But then again, neither do all atheists. Merely stating: “God can’t exist because there is no proof” is an incredibly puerile statement. There are lorry-loads of proof supporting and denying the existence of god. I’d love a good healthy debate exploring the actual proofs. But just coming here, over and over again (and again.. the atheists have to go out of their way to come to the Belief Blog) just to say “there is no god because there is no proof” is suspect. What’s the motive?

    March 21, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • anonfox

      The motive is simple, truth. you are making some sweeping assumptions about the habits of atheists. could it be that you've missed that atheism is the fasted growing religious view? and lets clear this up, again: there is zero proof of the existence of a magical being. none.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Parris Larrain

      To the atheist who says atheism is the fastest growing "religion" in the world: No, I believe you are wrong on two fronts. 1) Atheisim is NOT a religion. 2) Islamism may be. Moderate Islamism. Whatever it is doesn't matter. Atheists and those who hold there is NO creator are completely separated from their Creator in that declaration. Those are the people of the world for which the Creator is most concerned. If there is a Creator and he wants to welcome you home into His arms, back into His world from whence you came in some form, and you perish instantly, and you never knew Him or that Power or that Love in your life, and now you never will in your afterlife, are you comfortable with that? I am not.

      I saw an 11 year old boy who somewhat died or was extremely ill for many weeks in the hospital at age four with blood poisoning from an erupted appendix, and he was on tv this a.m. on NBC's Today. He describes looking Jesus right in the face, sitting on Jesus' lap watching his father pray in the hospital's chapel (no one knew where the father was but him and he was out of it), meeting his grandfather whom he had never met and have a conversation with him. He described how heaven looked, a lot of people and animals and he said everyone had wings. He said his grandfather had HUGE wings. Do you think it was hallucination on meds?

      March 21, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • rite

      I stand for truth, justice, and ethical behavior. I insist on honesty and truth where my "soul" is concerned. Without proof, and having stood where you stand in delusion, I can say with considerable certainty that you have no empirical evidence of your "god's" existence.
      If your holy texts are all fake, then you are a victim of a heinous crime are you not? Wouldn't your anger be righteous?
      Mine is. My motive? To right the wrong that is religious delusion. And I have facts on my side and you have none.

      March 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  2. Andrew D

    For those trying to debunk the existence of God or his son, I say this. The God in all this is the smile on the face of people after this, the hope that this will get better with the faith in belief, It's the coming together of the masses to help, even in the reality of there own lacking, but to understand this you would have to be of the faith to begin with, so as you spend your days trying to convert others to this self willed joke of existence you have chosen to live, I say to you good luck with that. Not all eye's, hearts, and minds are humble enough, so due to your own inability to humble, always thinking you have control of anything is much more unbelievable than God as God is. sad but true

    March 21, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  3. MikeMazzla

    the only one who makes any sense is Sam Harris. The rest is all nonsense

    March 21, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  4. Just A Thought

    For all of you who think that Sam Harris's reasoning is logically valid, please go read Tim Keller's book "Reasons for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism." He addresses this argument, among many others, which simply goes like this: just because you can't fathom why suffering occurs doesn't mean there isn't a reason. If you have a God big enough and powerful enough to have created everything (and for you to be mad at), then why isn't it reasonable also to accept that you may not be able to comprehend why certain things happen? I am merely paraphrasing and definitely did not cover in detail but just something for you all to think about. Read the book and rethink Sam Harris's comments. If you still agree with him, then more power to you because at least you've had a chance to hear the other side's retort to this common objection to belief in God and really be able to reason out your own beliefs. Have a nice day.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • rite

      But we do comprehend why suffering occurs. You are laboring under a misapprehension.
      There is no need for a supernatural and entirely superfluous super-being (who does not appear to actually exist in any reliable or sane form).
      It is people like you who do not comprehend, I guess. You just make "godidit" noises and bump into each other.
      Too bad you do not have the ability to think for yourself. Don't worry, it's not your fault, is it? You had no choice about where you were born. You are innocent in that regard. Sin makes no sense. It is illogical.
      The skewed view about responsibility you religious people have makes you a danger to others. You need help.

      March 21, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Just A Thought

      As expected, another individual who does not appreciate a simple suggestion, another individual so ingrained in their assumptions that there can be no room for anything else. Before you judge who I am, please take the time to understand the other perspective - not just what you think you know. My belief in God was not, in your assumption, a product of my upbringing. I did not find my faith until I was in college, having grown up in an agnostic family. Regardless, this point is absolutely irrelevant because I could just as well claim that you are a product of your upbringing as well; that is, you do not believe because of your upbringing. We don't get anywhere with this because there is more to our beliefs than just what we are brought up with. (Again, please go read the book as this point is addressed quite concretely as well.)

      By the way, your name calling is juvenile and suggests that you are unable to provide rational arguments and must instead resort to personal attacks. Honestly, we would benefit much more to have a civil conversation than for you to insult me. And I'm not sure what skewed view about responsibility you are claiming but I accept responsibility for all my actions. In any case, this isn't about me defending myself. It is about being mutually informed. If you will provide some reasonable arguments and you are also willing to listen to mine, then I am all ears for a good conversation.

      I'm not here to argue. I'm here to discuss.

      March 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  5. The Zen Particle

    Oh dear, the incendiary nonsense fighting between theists and atheists. I think such an argument proves the definition of insanity to a T considering there is NO valid way to prove nor disprove the existence of deity. However, we do know that the Bible itself is just a book with no evidence to support that it was written by a deity and more evidence that it was written by the hands of men with a vivid, if not disturbing, imagination.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  6. Good News

    Acts 17 : Paul's words...

    24 The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples,

    25 neither is he attended to by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives to all [persons] life and breath and all things.

    26 And he made out of one [man] every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of the dwelling of [men],

    27 for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.

    28 For by him we have life and move and exist, even as certain ones of the poets among YOU have said, ‘For we are also his progeny.’

    29 “Seeing, therefore, that we are the progeny of God, we ought not to imagine that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, like something sculptured by the art and contrivance of man.

    30 True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent.

    31 Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.”

    March 21, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  7. chad rivers

    The fact is religion is for weak minded people, the bible is nothing more than a comic book, look folks i am very sure when you were kids your heart was broken when you found out that there was no santa, easter bunny, tooth fairey, its 2011 its really time to wake up. and grow up.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • The Zen Particle

      Fact is, those who condemn those that are religious tend to have a weak self-esteem and thus need to belittle others in order to feel a sense of superiority about themselves.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  8. VashDrug

    Kami, can be related to Daath, rabbi... thanks for your explanation of what YOU think about Kether... perhaps a little refresher course at rabbinical school will refresh your memory about what's what and when its time to respect the beliefs of others, seeing that the same lack of respect has caused your people a lot of misery. I respect that you respect my comment as heavy handed and I know you mean well as do the people of CNN but it ain't so much what you believe as what you do about the situation now. Try a trip in the causal plane and fix the situation yourself, become Kether Rabbi and help.. this mean all of you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_plane

    March 21, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  9. John Stuart Mill

    A being who can create a race of men devoid of real freedom and inevitably foredoomed to be sinners, and then punish them for being what he has made them, may be omnipotent and various other things, but he is not what the English language has always intended by the adjective holy.
    - John Stuart Mill,

    I will call no being good who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow creatures; and if such a creature can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.
    - John Stuart Mill

    March 21, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  10. Rick Chalek

    No gods, no devils, no demons, no angels, no spirits, no ghosts, no cherubs, no NUTHIN'. Sheesh. Humans are so ridiculous. Hey, look, I appreciate amazing architecture too, but that doesn't mean that all those thousands of gorgeous cathedrals all over the world prove the existence of a god. I'm rather glad they were built, of course, because they're interesting and beautiful, but they are an enormous waste of space, time, money and resources. People really believe this silliness because the idea of a god and a hereafter brings solace and hope to them, but it's not reality. I like science fiction too, but at least I admit that it's fiction.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Parris Larrain

      Rick, all the previous era's architecture, cathedrals, pyramids, temples, pagodas, parthenons and so forth; to house the dead or alive, have been important to the development and the clues to the development of humanity. It is easy for a 21st centurian to look back and call these structures ridiculous, but to have just studied global architecture in its historical context, there is a method to what looks to you like madness.

      Question is: was the ability to devise the means by which to create these structures inspired, or the result of the limited minds of a limited creation? Hmmm...having learned a great deal about the development of architecture from the monasteries and castles of medieval times, to the genius of the building of the cathedrals spires and domes through Ken Follett's two major masterpieces of that subject, I truly appreciate the greatness in humanity that can even conceive of the structures that make up medieval building.

      My greatest finding has been that so much of what was originated architecturally in the very ancient past before the common era and after, has been and continues to be such an influence on world architecture today. Yet, t his 21st century will leave a mark of it's own, with the tower in Dubai I will have to see its name again, and those climbing to the skies now around the world. Who will build the highest?

      Wasn't that a situation in ancient Babylon? The story of a tower reaching high up to God.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  11. Hiawa23

    Bottomline for me is this: Either there is a God, who created everything good & bad, including the natural disasters, & the magic book is correct or it isn't, there is no God, & the book is just a book of fairytales. My mother is highly religious & when i was a child she had us in church every Sunday. It's hard to speak to her about anything now I am 36, as everything that happens, she always says it's because of God. She always says I am going to put it in God's hand & he will fix it, which sounds ridiculous to me, cause if I don't pay my mortgage, I will get kicked out of my house. I can't just put it in God's hand & it will miraculously get paid. It seems to me people beliieve in this magic until something happens in their life, & their faith is shaken. People have this notion that the man in the sky will fix your problems just cause you give him shotouts, & he will grace you with his magic, but if you do nothing, then nothing will get solved. I respect religious folks beliefs, if you really think about many of the tales in the Bible, they can't be true, defies logic, or is someone's interpretation, & how do we know that that interpretation is true or correct or just a big lie on hummanity.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Parris Larrain

      I understand your thinking and rationale, Hiawa. However, in trying also to understand your mother, I believe she may be doing what I do, but I can explain what that is in a way that perhaps you will understand and be able to separate her declarations in matters of faith, versus expecting God not to require us to pay our dues. God tells Christians, or maybe it was Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus the Orthodox Jew converted) that in anything we do or intend to do, we should by all means count the costs. Christians are charged with responsibility. So there is a way by which a lazy Christian could shirk responsiblity and use and then blame God for his or her woes.

      In your mother's stead, what I believe she means, knowing the faith and how it works in general as a universal law, I can say that she is hopefully using her faith to confirm in advance answers to prayers that have not yet manifested. Once left in God's hands, as she says; however, she must then "leave" it there. The issues we need to put into God's hands are those that we cannot control, things that randomly or unexpectedly come against us (again, natural laws of the universe in action).

      It isn't correct, IMO to say, God is responsible for the good and bad in his omniscience and omnipotence. I feel it IS correct to say God is responsible for maintaining the consistency of the natural laws of the universe. If he set a law in place, such as those that hold the planets in orbit, then His laws are final til the end of earthly days. Except in those cases we know of as truly miraculous, in which case, God perhaps has overridden one of his own laws. And He, it would see, as Creator of those laws, and maintenance man, is the only one who CAN override.

      Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanos, floods, tornados....results of natural laws of the universe. How weather works. Nothing to do with God. That is my final answer.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  12. Hecaru

    "Natural disasters are acts of nature, not acts of God" Do you mean it is out of his control?
    "God is suffering along with us" What a poor guy your God is!!
    "I don’t believe God does want this to happen" So, how the hell he is a God??

    Stop exploiting people's suffering to spread your propaganda.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  13. mehmet

    I would like to ask to unbelievers, when a needle can not be without a wright, who made and created you? Who is your creater? Who can create you. please think. If you think deeply you will reach that the answer is the creator of universe and all things.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Smugenbu

      Who created the creator? If the creator was always there, then why couldn't the universe have always been there? Please think.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  14. Rick Chalek

    For cryin' out loud already....grow up! There is no god. What nonsense. Will you whackos ever learn that this god stuff is one huge fairytale? We are on our own, and there's nothing wrong with the sometimes painful truth. Reality is neither ugly nor beautiful. It simply IS.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  15. Jeff

    Nothing gets people's dander up like bringing up God.
    I find the essays by these different theological reps to be interesting in that they reveal something about the different faiths. All the Christians just shrug it off and say "I don't know." The Buddhists say "This happened, people are dead, more are hurting, lets help those who can be helped." (my personal favorite). The Rabbi made an odd statement by saying that the earthquake and tsunami were acts of nature, not God; this would put the creator out of control of his creation.
    Sam Harris said...well the same thing Sam Harris always says, nothing new there.

    What none of these can deny is that the universe is a large place that doesn't care much for the desires or comfort of humankind. We are all dead, the only question is "when?"

    March 21, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Parris Larrain

      At the time of the Creation of the Universe, you will notice by even just lookiing around you, living your life, and from your 12 years of school science classes, that there are universal laws in place that govern us and our planet. For instance gravity. You cannot jump off a 10 story building and ask God to save you from the effects of gravity. Gravity is a universal law.

      There are besides laws of the physical universe that govern the planet and what we can and cannot do on and to it, spiritual laws of the universe that cannot be overridden. They can be found in the Qu'ran and in the Bible alike. The law of sowing and reaping, (what is given by you is returned to you seven fold or more); The law of the curse of sin and death (the Bible offers Jesus as the answer for that one), and many more that involve man's intent, man's actions. God cannot override his own laws of the universe or governance of this planet set in motion before we ever arrived. That is my opinion.

      So, the answer is that these natural occurrences (and btw the nuclear plant certainly had nothing to do with God and everything to do with physical laws of the universe) are simple universal laws that cannot be overridden. The retain order in the universe. When chaos strikes, as it has, the laws of the universe are there as everything finds its place again and normalcy returns somewhat changed, as it were.

      If humanity has any sense whatsoever, instead of questioning God, humanity will question self. The body of humanity should ask itself how it is that this planetary condition was able to do the damage that it has to humanity? Perhaps humanity and societies should rethink their relationship with the planet, their abidance within universal laws, and make some changes to protect themselves. I do not think the Creator of the universe enjoys seeing large droves of his creation wiped out due to their ignorance or denial of universal laws.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  16. Nero Claudius

    I'll tell you where god is. I keep him out back with my unicorn and the dragon i ride around on. You people are insane. Good luck with your invisible people.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  17. silly

    Luke 13:4-5 (New International Version, ©2011)
    4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

    Modern translation: don't build cities or a nuclear power plant in an earthquake zone. And if you do, expect to be wiped out from time to time.

    March 21, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  18. Truthmakesyoufree

    Interesting how Sam Harris, dedicated to spreading "secular values," is the only person quoted in this article that uses insulting words like "stupid...callous...childish...grow up" to criticize religion, then talks about compassion and "heart break" in the same breath. In the meantime, all the others quoted from the array of religious faiths calmly and maturely offered thoughtful words of wisdom without any tone of self-righteousness. Hmm...who's being callous?... and who's showing compassion?

    March 21, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • dawn

      like

      March 21, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • rev_cletus

      Harris isn't being "callous," but practical; neither is he lacking in compassion, but instead is expressing long-standing frustration with the fact "religious" types will gloss over human tagedy by invoking their various "gods," as if "faith" is panacea. All Harris would like is expressions of compassion without all the "religious" puffery and reference to some imaginary cloud-being. Is that so hard to understand?

      March 21, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Smugenbu

      He's just telling it like it is.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Bob Horn

      You want sugar and flowers? Listen to all those candy salesmen. You want the facts? Sam has it right.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • InGodWeTrust

      You took the words right out of my mouth. Im a Christian and I even respected other religious views, other then Sam Harris. If people dont believe in God thats their opinion, I dont understand why people who are atheist or agnostic have to insult and belittle the religious people around them. Seems to me like Satan has them wrapped around his finger..

      March 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Rebecca Savastio

      As an Atheist myself, I was disappointed by his response. But I want to try to explain where I think it's coming from. Sometimes it is so frustrating when things like this happen, that we (Atheists) begin to feel angry. Angry because we feel that people suffer so much more when they believe in God, and they have false hope, and that the perpetuation of this myth can cause even more psychological damage when people finally come to realize that God is not listening. We get angry when we see people being hurt. I think that Sam Harris could have worded his response much better. In this time of great sorrow, we must respect anything that helps people get by. And if, for certain people, that is religious faith, then so be it.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Truthmakesyoufree

      Thanks Rebecca S. for a thoughtful reply and attempting to communicate meaningfully. Appreciate that.

      March 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Truthmakesyoufree

      "All Harris would like is expressions of compassion without all the "religious" puffery and reference to some imaginary cloud-being. Is that so hard to understand?"

      rev_cletus: That's quite easy to understand. Perhaps all the rest of us would like is expressions of conviction without all the snide condescension and insults. Is that so hard to understand?

      As for religion, if I understand the "scientific and secular" view, you have evolution to thank for producing religious hominids, so your argument is with evolution, no? If religion weren't practical, why did evolution produce it? It must have had some kind of "survival of the fittest" value. If that's so, then I'm sure when the right conditions arise, religion will evolve out just like it evolved in. In a dynamic system like evolution, religion could come and go as needed. Don't you have any faith in your own worldview?

      (Yes, that's definitely tongue in cheek...just sayin'...)

      March 21, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  19. Good News

    Romans 1:20
    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    2 Corinthians 5:7
    We live by faith, not by sight.
    (Note: Not by blind faith, but faith based on knowledge from God's Word. Faith is based on evidence. Hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled in the past and in our day.)

    March 21, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • anonfox

      all faith is blind; sure, you can play word games and rationalize the notion of faith into categories but in the end there is only knowledge and faith. knowledge requires evidence and logic. faith requires there to be no evidence and at the very least, a mild delusion. please refrain form trying to shoehorn your fanaticism into a scientific model; you disservice all science and escalate your belief set into the cultist form.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Good News

      Isaiah 45

      18 For this is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the [true] God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited: “I am Jehovah, and there is no one else.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Smugenbu

      You're just one big circle jerk of scripture, aren't ya? There something in that book about circle jerks? Go ahead and spout that off too.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  20. Hiawa23

    I don't consider myself an atheist, I base my views on proof, what I see, smell touch feel. I think someone or something created the earth us & all the planets, but this notion that many have that there is a God up there in the clouds, with a clipboard of your entire life taking notes so when you do die, he will judge you, I don't buy. That 10% you tide in church is probably going into someone's car payment or house note. I just don't believe the supreme man in the sky needs us humans to worship him. What does that give you? It doesn't protect you from bad things, prayer surely doesn't. If our lives are already mapped out, then what will happen will happen whether you say 1 prayer or 1000000.

    March 21, 2011 at 9:46 am |
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About this blog

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