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My Take: CNN readers' 7 answers to 'Where was God in Aurora?'
A man pauses at a memorial of crosses near the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the scene of last week's mass shooting.
July 26th, 2012
02:49 PM ET

My Take: CNN readers' 7 answers to 'Where was God in Aurora?'

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Over the last few days, CNN’s Belief Blog has received more than 10,000 responses to its question, “Where was God in Aurora?”

The underlying concern here has vexed theologians for centuries: How can evil happen in a world that is lorded over by a good and all-powerful God? As CNN's readers struggled to make sense of God's presence (or absence) in the Aurora, Colorado, massacre, I counted seven different answers to this question:

1. There is no God.

Self-professed atheists may make up only 2% of the U.S. population, but they are extraordinarily active online, and on CNN's Belief Blog. A commenter who identified as Jason spoke for them when he wrote, “Where was God? He was where he has always been. Nowhere because God does not exist.” Bob Dobbs agreed: “God is imaginary. The question is moot.”

Many in this camp also quoted the ancient Greek philosopher (and skeptic) Epicurus:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

2. Don’t blame God, blame Satan.

Many theists on the site described the world as a battleground between God, who is working for good, and Satan, who is working for evil. “As long as Satan is loose to promote evil, bad things will happen to good people,” wrote kat.

3. Don’t blame God, blame us.

Probably the most common response from Christian commenters was that evil is a result of free will. Do we really want to be “puppets” or “robots"? Of course not. So God has given us the will to choose either evil or good.

Watch: Survivor of massacre says he forgives gunman

Believer summed up this position well:

"It's been said that the only thing we can truly give God is our will because its the only thing we possess that is uniquely ours. Everything else was given to us by him, and is, in effect, not ours to give in the first place. As such, and despite his omnipotence, he cannot intervene. . . .  He only possesses power where power can be possessed - and controlling our actions is not within that realm."

Here Deborah also chimed in: “This act of violence was not God's will. I get so tried of people blaming God for evil acts. Humans of their own free will do evil things.”

4. God was behind the massacre, and it was just.

Some believers saw God’s righteous hand in the Aurora massacre, inflicting a just punishment on a wayward nation now run by secular liberals rather than conservative Christians.

Lenny wrote:

"We as a country have been telling God to go away. We told him to get off our currency, get out of our schools, get out of our Pledge of Allegiance, take your Ten Commandments out of our courthouses, get those Bibles out of hotels and no graduation ceremonies in our churches. How can we expect God to give us his blessing and his protection if we demand that he leave us alone?"

Read: The man who made Aurora’s iconic crosses

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, took a similar tack in an appearance on the Heritage Foundation's "Istook Live" radio show, laying the blame at the feet of a nation that has turned away from its God:

"You know, when people say, where was God in all of this? Well, you know, . . . we’ve threatened high school graduation participants that if they use God’s name that they’re going to be jailed, we had a principal of a school, and a superintendent or a coach down in Florida that were threatened with jail because they said the blessing at a voluntary off campus dinner. I mean, that kind of stuff… where is God? Where, where? What have we done with God? We told him that we don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present."

5. God was present at the massacre but with the victims, not the perpetrator

One classic claim in the Abrahamic tradition of Jews, Christians and Muslims is that God is with those who suffer - the poor and the oppressed. Some commenters saw God’s miraculous hand in the midst of this suffering, not causing it to happen but bringing it to an end.  “This may sound crazy,” wrote Diana, “but I believe God had a hand in that the gun jammed so that more people weren’t killed.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The most common claim in this category came from peacemaker, who wrote, “God is and was with the victims and s/he is weeping.” In a more explicitly Christian vein, Lauren wrote: “He was there in the theater, pierced by bullets with the victims. He was scarred by the shrapnel. His eyes were scorched with gas and then burned with tears as He mourned alongside the broken.”

6. Which God?

Some commenters interrogated the question itself, arguing that the knots it twists us into are rooted in what commenter Ego_Death called “a false idea of what God is.” After all, the problem of evil in a world ruled by a sovereign and good God only presents itself if you posit one personal God who is both good and all-powerful.

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Referring to "our idea of a human-like personal God" as "an ancient myth," Northstar56 wrote:

"But just because this kind of God does not appear to exist, does not mean that God, in fact, does not exist. I think many have developed a more mature and realistic perspective . . . in which God exists as a pure fundamental consciousness or state from which all of existence arises. This God does not control anything, but rather continues to perpetually emanate as reality . . . God was present in all of the victims, and everyone else. God was present in the killer as well. The tragedy is that the killer's awareness was so distorted and twisted that he could not see or be aware of the intrinsic priceless value of every person he gunned down."

Evoking something more akin to the “watchmaker” God of the deists, who makes the world and its laws and then refuses to intervene in its operation, Norm wrote: “God is not involved in our everyday mundane activities. How arrogant of man to think he’s the center of the universe and has God’s constant attention and every action is ‘God’s will.’”

Taking a different tack, "varun" invoked the teachings of the beloved Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita:

"Only the followers of Semitic religions have problem with understanding this - because they do not believe in rebirth and karma. As soon as you introduce these two concepts into (the) picture along with the eternal indestructible soul (something Semitic religions do believe in), everything makes sense. Read Bhagavad-Gita and everything would be as clear as daylight."

7. Who knows? It’s a mystery

Agnosticism is a rare virtue in the United States nowadays, but there were a few commenters who admitted to something less than the absolute certainty exhibited by atheists and evangelicals alike. "The answer," wrote Terry, "is we don't know where he was." Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom saw this "God works in mysterious ways" move as “ultimate cop-out/rationalization,” but I am not so sure.

In September 1862, in the midst of a much greater American tragedy, Abraham Lincoln wrote a private “Meditation on the Divine Will” in which he struggled to make sense of what God was doing in the Civil War. He later reworked those reflections into his second inaugural address, one of the greatest speeches in American history.

Surveying the corpse-ridden landscape of North and South, Lincoln observed, “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.” Clearly there was little good in slavery, he reasoned, yet equally clearly God was not giving a swift and sure victory to the Union. So what was God up to? In the end, Lincoln had to admit he did not know. Or, as he put it, “The Almighty has His own purposes.”

I suppose this is in a sense a “cop-out,” but it is a humble one, uninfected by the absolute certainties (either pro- or anti-God) that have shed more blood on earth than agnosticism ever will. It is also a classic example of answering a question with a question: What is God doing with this war? Who knows?

“Josephpusateri” also answered our question with a question. His comment was in my view the best of the hundreds I read, so I will end with it here:

"Oh, the blindness of such a question... as if only theodicy was a relevant question in white, American suburbs. Where is God in Afghanistan? Where is God in Gaza? Where is God in Syria? . . . Where is God, indeed."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • Culture wars • Devil • Ethics • God • Violence

soundoff (4,074 Responses)
  1. Chaos

    "Atheists have never done anything good in life other than arguing with religious people and kill them"

    Obviously, you have no clue about history.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Observer

      or logic.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  2. TOMG

    THE PASS LIFE TIME IS GOD AND SO DOES THIS PRESENT LIFE TIMING ID GOD AND THAN WILL GO ONTO THE FUTURE IS GOD CALLING , AMEN .

    July 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Answer

      Could you shout out louder?.. I couldn't hear ya.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Smurfette

      @TOMG -please shut up please please

      July 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  3. Master Dragon

    God proved its (and how else do you address a being with no gender!?) existence to me long ago. So God's existence, for me, is not in question. What IS in question, for me, is God's nature. I see so many bad things happen, and God does nothing. The bible paints a picture of a schizophrenic God – on the one hand, good, loving, and kind. On the other, a malicious irresponsible spoiled toddler who cares for no one, laughs at the terrible things that befall us, and tells us "obey me or I'll roast you for eternity". I think of children crying out to God for help while being murdered and abused. Where is God, Mohammed, Jesus, The Goddess.... Nowhere. Can't be bothered. Likely being entertained by our misfortune. Look to God to protect my family? Sure, like it protected the people in the theater. I know that there is a God, and, damn my soul for eternity or not, I intend to take it to task after my death. I am beginning to think Slayer is right. God hates us all, and isn't shy about shwing it.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Smurfette

      Serious question – how did god prove its existence to you?

      July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      So you're mentally challenged. Got it.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Rick James

      Nice post. I suppose I would do the same. It's better if he doesn't exist, though.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • rdeleys

      Did you ever think that maybe god does nothing because there is no god there?

      July 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  4. KYS

    there is no god.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Smurfette

      In Newfoundland there is no cod

      July 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Observer

      Big concern at the Olympics: there is no guard.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  5. Observer

    God's punishment for the sins of 58 woundings and 12 deaths: hell

    God's punishment for the sins that 2 consenting adults can commit in the privacy of their bedroom: THE SAME.

    "God is loving and just". Sure.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • K Kim

      Not necessarily. Salvation in Christ through the Grace of God does not preclude hope for either sinners.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Smurfette

      Not necessarily! If the shooter accepts Jesus Christ as his Saviour then he gets to go hang out with God for all eternity. Now, the little 6 year old who was killed – well, if she wasn't saved then she's f*kked and going to Hell. What a GREAT system!

      July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Observer

      K,

      You are right. God would welcome the mass killer if he repents and turn away the gays if they didn't.

      So much for God being just.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • K Kim

      Smurfette,

      What you fail to understand is that the default destination for everyone is hell unless you have been saved in Christ. BTW there are those who believe that all children who die were saved in Christ just before their death.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • K Kim

      Observer,

      What makes you think God would turn away "gays" if they were to repent?

      July 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Todd

      I think that the concept of Hell is a construction of man. The notion that any sin, no matter how heinous, could warrant an eternity of torment demonstrates only that Man has difficulty comprehending eternity. I don't know, with any certainty, who has the most correct view of the Universe. I suspect, after much reflection, that the likely truth is that none of us has more than a piece of the picture, and that the true nature of God and His plan likely is taken from many faiths, maybe even all of them. The problem with talking about God, or God's will, or God's motives is that, like eternity, man has a difficult time getting his brain around the scope of it. In the end, we put God on our level, imbue him with our fears, our struggles, and our views and then criticize him when he doesn't do what we would do. If God is eternal, and, by extension, we too are eternal, one doesn't have to travel too far along the timeline for nearly everything that happens on Earth to become irrelevant. That doesn't mean it isn't important – I would liken it to an education. By the time you reach high school, learning the alphabet seems like a waste of time. By the time you are out of college and working, the things you learned in high school likely don't matter as much either. Really, a successful education – one that prepares you for adulthood – isn't one that teaches you facts, but teaches you how to learn. Maybe God is less concerned with what we experience here on Earth and more focused on how much the joy and the pain, the happiness and suffering allows us to experience the full range of existence. So, life on Earth is important, but if you are religious, it's only the first step.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • K Kim

      Observer,

      Sorry I mis-read your comment in my reply. Like I said above, everyone is a sinner and everyone would be condemned to hell unless you are saved in Christ. God has very high standards but graciously gave each one of us the one way to salvation.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  6. rdeleys

    Speculating about god's involvement in the tragedy is like speculating about the role played by leprechauns tending my vegetable garden at night. It's nonsense and a complete waste of time.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  7. DCOWBOY

    I really don"t think there is a 100% atheist,in war when bullets and bombs are flying all around you and your buddy has just gotten his arm blowed off, or his insides is hanging out and he ask you please help me,from somewhere inside.you will ask GOD FOR HELP.and many times he will help your buddy in some way.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Smurfette

      Nope

      July 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Your assumptions are based on what YOU would do in that situation, but have no basis in reality for others...

      July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      It's the other way around. There are no theists in foxholes. Who runs into the battlefield not caring if they're killed because they are absolutely sure of the afterlife? Virtually nobody.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • rdeleys

      I seriously doubt it. Besides, there are plenty of people in the military who will dispute that too.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Observer

      Real soldiers who have actually been there say you are wrong. Try again.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  8. Believer

    Atheists have never done anything good in life other than arguing with religious people and kill them because they are intolerant, while Christians donate money, help the homeless, poor and those in need. We need a church every 20 feet!

    July 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Answer

      Yep killing all you morons is a chore well worth it's time.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Chaos

      " liberal fruitcakes, with nothing better to do than argue thier hate filled, intolerant, pro gay, anti christian rethoric, and spew it in the cloak of internet anonymity."

      Like you just did. Hypocrisy. All contained within one single sentence. You win the gold.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Smurfette

      That's so true – just this morning I bit the head off the cutest little bunny while eviscerating school children. We're evil – daring to use our brains!!!!! Where will it end??????

      July 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      No Answer, it's not. It's Believer's right to be retarded.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • rdeleys

      You're being facetious, right?

      July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Answer

      Every day that we make your tiny bubble of security burst is a day well spent in shattering your little religious minds.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Observer

      Believer,

      Atheists help pay the taxes your church DOESN'T.

      Ooops.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Believer,

      Ever hear of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet? (the largest charitable contributors in history, I suspect)... or the many, many SECULAR organizations, like the Red Cross, St. Jude's Hospital, Doctors Without Borders, etc., who help humankind tremendously?

      July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Answer

      Rational Libertarian

      It doesn't give them the authority then to shove that idiocy onto anybody. The world doesn't need retards.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • shinden58

      And the members of the religious right that go around murdering doctors have done good. Lets not forget about the Spanish Inquisition with their convert them or kill them policy. Sound like good christian values to me. NOT!!!!!!! How about chrsitians that discriminate and preach hate against gays and muslims. Most people use religion to justify their hate.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Yeah, if @Believer doesn't respond, she's probably a Poe.... but a useful one here.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Force it, no. Voice it, yes.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • AK47blazer

      Its okay guy, Satan still loves you

      July 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Answer

      Rational Libertarian

      You are correct. Now you give them a lesson on how to apply it. I wish you luck.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  9. david

    It all goes back to Adam and Eve. Sin! We humans are in a spirtual battle between evil and good. If you know God then you as a person have rein over sin. Or at least we all try but we are all sinners. If we try to please God in our daily walk with him then we will triumph over sin. This individual did not know God and so sin prevailed in his life.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      So it's my fault some naked dude ate an apple. Got it.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Except that atheists have higher IQs, lower poverty rates, lower divorce rates, lower STD and teen-pregnancy rates, lower crime rates, lower illiteracy rates, and higher incomes than 'believers' ... Details, details.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Atheist = Ignorant and Bigoted

      A=T: You would post that. Yeah you sure are a thinker. Do you have statistics to back up those assertions?

      July 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "A=T: You would post that. Yeah you sure are a thinker. Do you have statistics to back up those assertions?"

      Yes, I do... here's a link to the information you requested... Anything else for you today??

      http://answers.yahoo . c o m /question/index?qid=20100410115522AAZH6v8

      July 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  10. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    "I am the Lord, and there is none else...I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." Isaiah. If you're going to worship Almighty God, you'd better be prepared to take the good with the bad. When Job lost his children, he said "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord"

    July 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Smurfette

      Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

      July 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  11. Really?

    Am I the only one who get annoyed when atheists mentions "Science"? Ahh so annoying!!!!

    July 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      That's because science is rooted in fact and religious people live in fantasy worlds... A dose of reality is like poison to someone trying to defend religion.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Chaos

      "Am I the only one who get annoyed when atheists mentions "Science"? Ahh so annoying!!!!"

      Reason.

      That one almost killed you.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Lee

      Imagine the realization there is no god. What a wonderful place.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Atheist = Ignorant and Bigoted

      No, no, no. Science is rooted in a thing called the scientific method. Observed phenomena + subjective analysis. There are also limits to what science can prove. Don't get ahead of yourself there.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      There are no limits to what science can prove.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Atheist = Ignorant and Bigoted

      Really???? Can science prove math and logic?

      Can science prove statements of value?

      Can science prove itself?

      Can science prove the speed of light?

      Can science prove any moral value or moral value system?

      Can science prove any metaphysical truths?

      Answer to all of these ??? NO. Sorry there is a limit. Finally science cannot really truth PROVE anything. Science merely gives us a reason to believe something is true, but never ultimately true or real. Sorry, try again....

      July 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  12. Happy

    Imagine no atheists.... = PARADISE!

    July 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      You'd all be living in caves, grunting at each other...

      July 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You can have your paradise, we'll have the truth.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Answer

      Your world bottled up in fear and paranoia because you'll have theocrats cornering your every sin. LOL

      I really want to see your reality happen just so I can laugh.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Believer

      What truth?

      Truth that you are wrong?

      July 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Rick James

      Atheist, just wait until WWIII that some religious nus in the Middle East or America starts. I'll be surprised if they are any caves left.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • david

      I would hate to be an Athesist and die and have to meet God!!

      July 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Rick James

      Hey david, I would hate more to live on Earth and be as blinded as you.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Atheist = Ignorant and Bigoted

      And what truth is that rational libertarian?? Please enlighten us...

      July 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      That we're right.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  13. thejmurph

    To all of you who do not believe in God you need to read this story and then tell me how that girl could have been saved "only by chance". There is just no way. God is there and works in our lives even in the midst of horrific tragedy.

    http://bstrait.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/a-miracle-inside-the-the-aurora-shooting-one-victims-story/

    July 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Rick James

      You know what he could do to prove himself. Disrupt normal physical process. I would take that as evidence. Like stopping bullets, for example. Not giving someone a brain defect that was only useful on one occasion.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Lee

      It was Santa Claus.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  14. I'm right

    Where was God? It's sad this question typically only gets asked in the aftermath of tragedy. But for those of us that ask that question on a daily basis and from time to time are able to allow Him to have influence in our life, we know exactly where he was, is, and will continue to be.
    Now, why did this tragedy happen and "where was god" in all of it? Well, to answer that you need to believe that God gave us our agency. To step in and stop something like this from happening would have been to take that agency away from someone. As a loving God, he simply won't do that.... very often. But ask this question? Did every round that Holmes shot kill someone? Did his evil plan go like he thought it would or is it possible that he actually wanted more death? If so what stopped him? Fate? Coincidence? Karma? Or is it possible it was God?

    July 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Lee

      Obviously a sucker born every minute.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  15. Samantha L

    Atheists thinks they make up a much larger population... what they do not know is that barely make 2%. They need to shut their mouth and start acting like normal humans. We are NOT North Korea or China!

    July 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Brian

      Yes, they should stop exercising their freedom of speech and shut their mouth! What kind of country do they think this is? How dare someone voice an opinion that isn't represented by the majority of people in this country!?

      July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Lee

      Are you saying Korea or China aren't religious? You must be a total tool.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  16. Todd

    Years ago, I was asked by a close friend, an Atheist, how I could believe in a God that would allow all the horrible things that happen in this world to happen, especially when they happen to the innocent? And why does he hide? Why doesn't he just come here and destroy all the evil and the suffering? It is an excellent question, at a time when my own faith was shaky. I don't remember exactly what I said, thought for a moment, then answered, "I don't have an objective answer to that question. But I'll offer this: my faith teaches of an eternal life after our mortal one. Call it heaven, call it paradise – maybe its reincarnation or whatever you want to. But before we can face it – eternity – we have to learn. We have to get a baseline understanding of the universe and ourselves. And I believe we're put here to learn, maybe it's to learn how to feel, to empathize. To make decisions. Judeo-Christians believe that God gave us free will; if you have free will, that means you have to have a choice. If God showed up, rode down on a cloud, with all the glory and the fireworks, wouldn't pretty much EVERYONE choose him? I mean, that's a kind of cake-or-death kind of choice, isn't it? Maybe God let's evil happen so we can plausibly believe he ISN'T there. That makes it possible for there to be a choice. Regardless, we're here for, what, 100 years? That's the blink of an eye next to eternity. So maybe this life, this suffering is like a vaccination, or a boot camp. It prepares us and readies us for what is to come, and it's over in an instant – kind of like a shot when you're a baby. Look, I remember when my little girl got her immunizations. She was 6 months old. And she was so betrayed looking when that doctor gave her the shot in her little leg. She cried and looked afraid. All I could do was hold her. I understood how important it was, how much she would benefit. But there was no way she could, no matter how hard I tried to explain it to her. So all I could do was hold her, and comfort her. She has long since forgotten that day, but I never will. So maybe it's something like that. Maybe life, here, is an immunization. One we'll forget about after we leave this world. I'll leave you with a quote that I heard shortly after my father died, at a time when I needed to hear it: "I can walk with my child, right next to her. I can hold her and protect her and never let her out of my sight. She could still fall and injure herself, no matter how strong I try to hold her or protect her. It's that way with God. He never leaves our side. And the miracle of God's love is not that He will never allow any evil to happen or any pain to befall us, but that no matter what – He will always be there with us to help us heal, to help us recover, to comfort us." Maybe that's the way it works. I think it does, and it brings me solace.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Cindy

      Great post Todd.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      It's really a shame that you need to embrace fairy tales to find solace... But as long as you keep it to yourself, believe whatever you want.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Dan

      Why is it okay for you to spread your atheist beliefs but demand Todd keep his beliefs to himself?

      July 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "Why is it okay for you to spread your atheist beliefs but demand Todd keep his beliefs to himself?"

      I don't spread my atheist beliefs, I merely tell people that it's OK for them to think for themselves, and to avoid making assumptions that religion is the word of God... When people learn to think for themselves, the result is most often, atheism.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Lee

      You come up with heaven, god, paradise to support the thought that life isn't a temporary place. Yet you have no facts, you have no "truths". You also create this fairy tale to supplement any guilt, loss or negativity. Its your "happy drug" that keeps you from behaving on your own behalf. The existence of alien life is much more possible than that of your god. I once was catholic, but had to realize the flaw within the church as well as any church. It was built on fear, discrimination, masochism. Supported by a book (in most cases) written by men to suppress others. Every race, culture or belief, and they're ALL wrong.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Todd

      @ Lee and @ Atheist = Thinker – I understand what you are saying. Believe me, I've run those thoughts through my mind many times. Throughout history, man has created fantastical stories to give meaning to things he doesn't understand. I get that, and I recognize the peril. However, it is difficult to speak of "facts" and "truths" because, despite our faith in them, they too are not always what they seem. In 1500, science told us the Earth was flat, was the center of the Universe (or at least the Solar System), and that maggots were born out of spoiled meat. Those were hypotheses that were "proven" based on objective facts – the stars moved through the sky, the horizon could be observed, and meat left to spoil consistently resulted in maggots. Ah, you might say, but those were dark times – we are enlightened! Science has learned from its errors, and now knows the "actual" truth. I don't dispute we have come a long way in understanding the universe. But "science" disproves "facts" and "truths" every day. And will continue to do so. Does that mean I reject science? Hardly! Science is the most efficient and reliable way for man to channel his curious nature in a productive, efficient way in the search for truth and an explanation of how the universe works. I never said I didn't believe in evolution, for example. Not believing in evolution is like not believing in Oxygen.
      I do, however, reject the notion that there is no "fact" or "evidence" to support my conclusions. Oh, there is supposition, assumption, hypothesis, just as with science. But consider this: everything science has told us about the universe suggests that, if we had the ability to collect enough data, everything could be predicted. If we could measure the weight, composition, density and everything else about a glass, know the height, friction, etc of the air around it, we could predict with absolute certainty where every single piece of it would come to rest if it fell and shattered. And so it is with all things – the universe moves, generally, from a state of order to a state of chaos, except in those rare situations where a great deal of energy is expended. With very few exceptions. And then we come to man. Sure, he's a meatbag with chromosomes, we know how our hearts pump blood and our lungs breath air, and even why. But we can't explain why man behaves the way he does. Why two people exposed to the same stimuli can react so differently. Why one twin can be good, or generous, or kind, while his brother is selfish, or cruel. We don't know why we laugh. What purpose does imagination serve in the evolutionary chain? or art? You can scoff at the notion of a soul, but the thing that makes you and I disagree is the very mystery science cannot solve – how two practically identical chemical compositions can look effectively the same but behave so differently. I call that evidence to support my beliefs. Is it scientific? Meh, that's open to debate. But being scientific or not doesn't dictate whether it is right or wrong.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  17. Louis

    Christianity is the only truly religion – all others are myths.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      You sound like a christian version of the Taliban.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  18. JustMe

    The question of whether there is a god is uninteresting – it has not predictive power because if there is an all-present, all-powerful god we clearly cannot understand it, nor affect it. It has no more impact than saying "its just that way".

    The real question is organized religion, which is simply a force of evil. It advocates intolerance and ignorance. It promotes hatred and violence. They all claim to know the will of some supernatural being and use that as justification for promoting all manner of evil upon those that they are supposed to be sharing the planet with.

    God is uninteresting. Organized religion is evil.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  19. New Jerseyan

    Wow this clearly shows how arrogant atheists are. Hard to discuss anything with them.
    Thank God I haven't met any atheists in real life yet...

    July 26, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Religionists claim that their religion is the answer to everything.
      Atheists accept that we know nothing, and only scientific inquiry will prove otherwise.
      Replace the word arrogant with humble please, then apologize.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Merriam Webster

      You seem to be confusing your terms, sir. Atheists, by definition, claim to know that there is no god (a=without, theos=gods). The group that you are referring to, are agnostics (a=without gnosis=knowledge), who simply claim to either not have knowledge, or to be unable to acquire knowledge of a god, God, or gods. Agnostics are humble and do not overstep. In claiming to know with absolute certainty that no higher power can exist, atheists commit the same logical misstep of which they accuse believers. The absence of proof is never proof in itself, nor is the absence of disproof. Now back to your regularly scheduled assertions of "you're dumb, no, you're dumb."

      July 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  20. BigDog

    It appears to me that CNN attracts an extremely high percentage of liberal fruitcakes, with nothing better to do than argue thier hate filled, intolerant, pro gay, anti christian rethoric, and spew it in the cloak of internet anonymity. What a waste of time, reading this garbage commentary.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I'm pro gay, anti Christian and not a liberal.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Yo BigDog, Who are you then? BigDog is not your real name. Write who you are. After all G-od will protect you. Don't be anonymous like us.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Rick James

      I'm not a liberal either, but you just spit improvable gibberish, BigDog.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Todd

      Be patient with anyone who is angry over this, BigDog. Of course they are angry. This kind of tragedy shocks the conscience. All of us are left struggling to find a reason, to find an explanation. You know the old saying "I know there ain't no Heaven but I pray there ain't no Hell?" This is one of those situations where a person filled with grief could say something like "This proves there is no God! And if there IS a God, He's a CRUEL God." It is very hard to think objectively, to have faith in something for which the evidence is open to a great deal of interpretation, when one feels so much grief and fear. Honestly, I think it's the same with gun control. There will be calls for a long time for more gun control. Why? Because without guns, something like this wouldn't happen, right? Realistically, that probably isn't the case. But it's hard to just "accept" something like this and not try to do something to prevent it. It's hard to admit we're vulnerable. And it's hard to put your faith in something you can't see at a time like this, because that makes you vulnerable too. I don't think this incident is "God's will." I don't think he "allowed" it to happen or "made" it happen. I don't think that if you looked at God's "plan" there would be an entry for "send a madman in to kill a dozen people and injury sixty others". There's one other problem you have to consider, too. Faith in God means that we would have to try to forgive this guy, even try to love him. Yeah, right. That might take a while. Trying to accept that God loves the shooter as much as He loves the victims makes it hard to accept as well. So be patient. A lot of people have a lot to process in the wake of this.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
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About this blog

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