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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. Logic

    I don't need religion to support myself in times of darkness. I believe in humanity, despite all these tragic events happening, everyone should understand that God does not make this world how it is, us people do.

    July 27, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Sam

      God is not religion. God is real, he is life and he gave a son for you, and his name is Jesus. Will you believe in him? Take a leap of faith and see if he changes how you see your life.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Hambone Jones

      Sam
      Correction, you "believe" that God is real, but you can't prove it, can you? In fact, you need people to take a "leap of faith", which basically amounts to throwing reason aside and just forcing yourself to believe first, and then you tell people that, of course, then they will see evidence of God in their lives. Well, duh! That's no more reasonable than saying that a person deluded into believing in elves actually believes that they see elves in their garden.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Logic

      @Sam

      Yeah whatever buddy, you keep going to church every Sunday, meanwhile I will be at the Soup kitchen helping the homeless and the needy.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Sam

      Logic, If you are giving to those in need at a soup kitchen, you are doing what Christ himself would do. He gave of himself. What you are doing I appreciate and can not say anything about. Except that I praise your heart of Good. However, I agree that we do bring much of our problems upon ourselves as a society. This is all due to our Free will and our sinful nature. This is all still known by our omnipotent God. He knows all that we do and all that we will do. Even if we will accept him as our lord and savior. He knows.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  2. Observer

    Sam,

    You said: "The baby would surely go to Heaven because it didn't have an opprotunity to accept or deny Jesus."

    Since aborted "babies" would get a free pass to Heaven, why aren't all Christians supporting abortion? Isn't the goal of all Christians to go to Heaven?

    July 27, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Sam

      Observer,

      I find your statement to be ridiculous, you are taking my words and creating ammo for your own humor. In no way is the point of Christianity to Get to heaven by any means. Abortion is NOT one of them. It is a sad part of our free will. However this may be true. Even if we use our free will to kill babies, through abortion. God does take those babies to heaven. Though a life on Earth is a pleasant experience. The ability to have free will, to experience a power that God has given us, truely is empowering. Yet we take it from ourselves. We are selfish, we kill innocent people, not different than the man that killed 12 in Aurora. This is what is so sad about our country right now. Our lack of respect for life, which is so precious, so delicate, and can end in a flash. So can yours, so do you know Jesus? Seek him.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Observer

      Exquisite !

      Peace...

      July 27, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Observer

      Sam,

      Do aborted "babies" get to the Heaven that is the goal of every Christian or does God send them to hell?

      July 27, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Sam

      Observer,

      I am beginning to feel so very sorry for the way that you think. I feel that you are hurt by abortion in some way. I do not understand why you keep going on about it. However, I have answered your question many times. Aborted babies, or babies that die from complications during pregnancy. Any baby, even toddlers, if they die. God takes their soul to heaven. They are innocent. They do not know the evil of the Earth. They can not comprehend such things as Faith, or Jesus. They do not know the difference between good and evil. They are innocent. Yes any baby that is murdered by the process of abortion, is in the presence of Almighty God in the amazing place of Heaven.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  3. Sam

    Jesus: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one, comes to the Father, except through Me" WOW. Bold statement. That must be a lie. I think not. Jesus made the most bold statement in the history of theology. That he is the only way to heaven. No prophet of any sect or religion can claim to that bold of a statement in the history of Man. Jesus did, because he is the way the truth and the life. Yet, yall are so blind! So many of you are so resistant. I am afraid to say that many many many of you will never ever believe. You need not be those people.

    July 27, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • NoTheism

      @Sam, it doesn't matter what claims the Jesus you refer to has made, the question is whether they can stand on their own merit. At that point, it doesn't really matter who made such claims.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Sam

      In the end it all boils down to what each individual on this place called Earth believes in their heart. Jesus is the answer.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • NoTheism

      @sam, no, you are incorrect. It does matter why people believe in what they believe, whether it is in their heart or otherwise... By the way, the heart is only a muscle.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • Capone

      It is because we have strayed away from our true maker and continue to believe in these false idols such as Jesus.

      As our true Father said:

      I created them, and they reward my love with defiance?! There will be no truce!
      Like children, they need to be reminded of the order of things!

      Long live Zeus!!!

      July 27, 2012 at 2:17 am |
  4. highplainsparson

    All 7 of these answers are seriously wrong. The truth is that God was in control, the massacre was His will, but this does not necessarily mean it was a judgment for specific sins, as if those killed were worse than others. For more details click on my name above to go to my blog.

    July 27, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Morrison Braddock

      If you are correct, then I want NO part of this "god"

      July 27, 2012 at 1:11 am |
      • highplainsparson

        Not your call. Since He created you, you will have to face Him one day, like it or not.

        July 27, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • DaisukeD

      In reply to you replying to me.

      I don't want to be in bad taste because even though I don't believe in a magical being that controls the world. I won't argue it. If thinking that way brings people comfort in dealing with this horrible incident then I'll step down on this one.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:16 am |
      • highplainsparson

        If God were not controlling the world, it would be impossible for us to even have this exchange right now. It is comforting, but it's also reality.

        July 27, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Rob

      Hey highplainsparson, I believe in a big, green, bulb-headed alien who made the heavens and the earth. Prove me wrong. Go on. Oh, ya, right, you can't. Just like you can't prove the grumpy, jerk in the sky who likes to kill people is real either. Stop being so dogmatic about your make believe reality. If you want to believe in the big kahuna in the sky, go for it, but at least have the courage to say it is your faith and not provable.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:47 am |
      • highplainsparson

        If the Bible said that, I would believe it. But as it is, the Bible does not say that. So I'll stick with what is provable.

        July 27, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • Rob

      Dude, in what world do you live in where the Bible equals proof? I guess it is proof of something, that other deluded souls like yourself believe in one of many bucolic, Bronze Age deities. That's it.

      Blind faith in a book that doesn't even offer evidence is foolish. You also forgot that every other religion also has their "book" and believes exactly the same silliness. What arrogance to think your book is better than everyone's. I'll help you all. They're all the ramblings of cool aid drinking fanatics without a shred of proof for anything other than they got duped.

      July 27, 2012 at 2:01 am |
      • highplainsparson

        What makes you presume that faith in the Bible is blind? It can't be compared with any other book. The Bible is the only book which contains the marks of divine authorship.

        July 27, 2012 at 2:04 am |
      • highplainsparson

        What makes you presume that faith in the Bible is blind? It can't be compared with any other book. The Bible is the only book which contains the marks of divine authorship. There is an old post on my blog which spells this out a little more fully.

        July 27, 2012 at 2:06 am |
  5. Bayousara

    I believe some of the victims (not necessarily the dead victims) are not Christian, so why the crosses?????

    July 27, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Rob

      Because that's what Christians do, force their worldview on everyone, willing participant or not.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • highplainsparson

      It's part of the American culture.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Rob

      So, let me see if I have this correct, highplainsparson, its the American culture to force a religious icon over a dead person that finds your faith ridiculous? My understanding of American culture is freedom of religion, ie, freedom to not have annoying religionists force their beliefs over my dead body. Go join the jihadists in the middle east where cramming religion down peoples throats is their way of life. As for me and the rest of western, rational society, leave us alone.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  6. DaisukeD

    These comments are like Fairy Tales anonymous. The bible is the best selling nursery rhyme ever.
    Every Sunday people go to story time! I envy you type of people, no sarcasm I really do. I wish I could still get lost in a good story book like when I was a toddler. Unfortunately I had to do this thing called growing up that involves stuff like reality and learning how to think. Totally sucks 😦

    July 27, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • highplainsparson

      If you're thinking is not in line with God's self-revelation in Scripture, it has no value. The Creator who made your brain has a right to be the center of your thinking. And if He's not, your thinking will only be in error.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  7. SM Hayden

    They act like death is new . All the apostles are known to die except John. Christs followers were told to take up a cross and follow him . They often expected to die. The killing of christians in coliseum of Rome only proved power of faith to control the mind . All those born of flesh and blood die . Finally,its better to die doing the right thing than die doing the wrong thing .

    July 27, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      "All the apostles are known to die except John."

      John is still alive?!!

      Actually, the fates and even the ident'ities of most of the apostles are unknown; and the numerous and often conflicting legends regarding them are unverified.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Rob

      It is also Christian myth that Christians were singled out and killed for their faith in Roman times, especially the part about them dying in the Colosseum. Rome put down any radicals who subverted the peace of the empire. This included gypsies, other religious cults, slave uprisings, Jews, Goths, Huns, you name it. Stop thinking you people are special because societies throughout history are annoyed by your misguided fairy tales.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  8. organically

    Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to save millions of lives, but this is being prevented by religious radicals and therefore religion is detrimental to the preservation of life. Religion has been the greatest cause of war and conflict throughout human history and has resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people throughout history, therefore religion is detrimental to the preservation of life. Religion is the biggest scam in the history of humanity.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Rob

      Hey, but who needs that when their god can spit on the ground, make mud, stick it in a guys eyes, tell him to wash it out and BAM, he's healed. Awesome, it's magic.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  9. zstimclinic

    If you have a belief in God, and you believe that we are all here as a fiat act of Deity (creatio ex nihilo, from nothing), then it would make sense to ask where was He when individuals and despots perpetrate acts of barbarity against others. If, however, you believe in a God who is literally our Father, and that we had a pre-existence before this life, then it would make better sense to ask why we are here. If we had a pre-existence, did God send us here because he demanded it? Or did we have a choice in the matter?

    In other words, did we have the freedom to choose our course? If, then, we had freedom of choice there, then why would it be any different here? But this time there’s a catch. We have no memory of God or our pre-existence; we are left to ourselves. Except, to help us make correct choices, God chose emissaries (the prophets) to instruct us. If so, and with our freedom very much in force, we are confronted with a daunting choice–whether we know it or not: do we obey the words spoken by these emissaries, or do we go our own way? If the latter, and we find ourselves justifying committing awful acts of depravity against others, then one could argue that we cannot blame anyone else for the choice–including God.

    If there's a before, then there must also be a hereafter. If that be the case, that there is indeed a hereafter, we will then recall our pre-existence and the reality of our Father. Then, and only then, will the full weight of judgment and the awful consequences of our acts come to rest heavily on our consciences. In other words, at that moment of self revelation, we will have judged ourselves to have failed the test of how we would use our freedom to choose.

    If you get the drift, then we can only conclude that this life is, indeed, a test!

    July 27, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • highplainsparson

      No, it wouldn't make sense to ask where He was. It would make sense to be resigned to His will. If He's the Creator, He controls everything.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  10. Sam

    Someday, God will reveal himself to us in a more defined way. What will you say then? Make up more excuses?

    July 27, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  11. Aaron

    God Loves us nd crucified his son for us 🙂

    July 27, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Devoneco

      Why did god sacrifice such a great man – Jesus Christ – at the hands of those who didn't (and still don't) believe that he was the son of god? Why couldn't he prevent him from being murdered and let him live so that he would have been more useful alive to the world than dead? Or if someone says that it was the deed of Satan that the massacre in Aurora happened, then god once again proved that he's powerless against evil. Then why should we believe in him as "almighty" and turn to him when he cannot help us – and didn't even help his own "son"! Why not let him be and lets take care of ourselves!

      July 27, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Sam

      Devonecco,

      Jesus was not crying out to God because he couldn't help himself. You see, Jesus is God, God is Jesus. They are two in the same. Jesus came to earth as God in the flesh that is what is so awesome about what he did and how powerful he is. When jesus cried out " God why have you forsaken me" on the cross, what he was doing was fulfilling an old prophecy from the book of psalm. read this verse from the bible and you will understand. Psalm 22:1. Many people take one verse from the bible and discount so much, such as the power of Christ. If those knew the word of God, meaning the entire Bible. Then many would understand why God made us and why we are here and what our future beholds. I pray for your to gain undrestanding. I wish you much speed.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • I wonder

      Sam,
      "When jesus cried out " God why have you forsaken me" on the cross, what he was doing was fulfilling an old prophecy from the book of psalm."

      Hmmm, would Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (or whoever wrote under those names) happened to have read or heard about those old Hebrew stories before they wrote up their "fulfillment" reports?

      July 27, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  12. Que

    God was kicked out. We don't let God/Prayer in school's there's a separation of Religion and State we give God very little time in our homes. So when there's a major event with loss of life we blame God or ask where was God. God isn't a belief you put on the shelf until you feel you need him or want him, you do that with toys an old DVD's and CD's, either you believe or you don't.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Rob

      Kicking god out of schools. Well, that does it. You religionists win. You've got this atheist praising god for something. Congrats.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  13. SM Hayden

    All those born of flesh and blood die.
    Perhaps I was present before the world began in battle of Revalation12.
    How do you know I was not if you were not there?
    Was not world created as a plan redemption to save those who were already lost ?
    So that we are all born in sin and destined to die surrounded by loosers.
    We were lost spirits before our physical body of flesh and blood was born and destined to die.
    My death is justice.My life is grace.
    Whosoever will loose his life for Christ sake will gain it said Christ so that some might be saved
    I believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of God

    July 27, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  14. Liso

    awsum nd GOD BLESS U:)

    July 27, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  15. Sam

    God loves you, if you accept it or not. It is your decision to seek him and love him in return.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • NoTheism

      Your god recognizes that other gods exists, that's why he tells you that you should put no other gods before him... Why would he do that if no other gods exist?

      July 27, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Peace2All

      @NoTheism

      Beautifully executed !

      Peace...

      July 27, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Andrew

      If, and I'm not saying you believe this, but if you believe "god loves us" but punishes those who do not turn to him with eternal hell-fire, than I hardly see his love as being all that worth obtaining. "Shower me with sycophantic praise or you shall suffer for the rest of time" is not something someone filled with unconditional love would say... because it is putting a condition on the love.

      If god loves us only after we declare our love for him, and if he punishes us if we don't declare our love for him, then your description of god is a rather cruel egomaniac, and in no way deserving of my love or even an ounce of my respect.

      Now, of course, if you believe that simply be being a good person you won't be punished, then I respect your beliefs but disagree, I prefer empirical evidence first and foremost.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Sam

      A God can be any Idol, like the story of the old testament where man was worshipping a statue of a cow. God was very upset. A God can be anything that takes a higher place than GOD himself. Not necessarily a false God with a belief system. For there are no true creators like ours.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Sam

      Andrew, John 3:16 says as I am sure you already know. "God gave his only son for whomsoever believes in him shall not die but have everlasting life" Empirical evidence in this matter does not exist. God did create chemistry however you will not find empirical formulas or evidence in God's plan for FAITH. Faith is a blind thing. To believe in God and Jesus, you shall not need empirical evidence, however, blind faith. Like the Wind. You can feel it, but can't see it. However you can see the effects it has. This is the same as our faith. You can not see God with our eyes, but you can feel his presence and see his creation all around us. Thus you feel the effects of his presence. Like the wind.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • NoTheism

      @Sam, that is such a bad analogy.. you can EMPIRICALLY test for wind; wind is a natural phenomenon. Your claim is that your god, Jesus, whatever, are not natural phenomenon and therefore you require faith to sense or believe in them. They are not the same thing.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Sam

      If you stop resisting, you can live, you can breathe, you can feel the power of our Lord. Stop fighting what you are afraid is true.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Andrew

      ... I've just graduated with my Bsc in physics, wind isn't mysterious to me, wind is pretty damn simple.

      For starters, I can actually *see* wind, in that I can see the motion of air. You say "but wait, air is invisible", and I ask "what do you define as sight?"
      To see something, you need to have photons either emitted by something, or bounced off something, interact with your eyes. In other words, you need light to see.
      Does "wind" then emit light? YES! It does! The only problem is that its blackbody radiation emits light with far longer wavelengths than we can see with our eyes. For all the "glory of god" stuff, we can really only see a truly narrow range of the electromagnetic spectrum with our eyes. So if we have some kind of photosensitive material which interacts with infra-red light, you can literally see wind, you can see the motion of air itself.
      Not only can I "see the effects of wind", as you say, but I can also robustly test and confirm PROPERTIES of wind. I can determine the composition of wind, measure the force generated, measure the energy contained in it.

      That's actually a really important one, since wind is at its basic core is the result of pressure fluctuations, which in it of itself is the result of temperature variations, which in it of itself is basically a measurement of the kinetic energy of the air.

      These are things I can measure just as surely as see the words on my screen. They rely on the same fundamental scientific principles. God, however, operates on entirely different principles that cannot be tested nor confirmed. They can just be asserted. That isn't robust enough for me, and is intellectually unsatisfying.

      July 27, 2012 at 2:05 am |
  16. DaisukeD

    He was obviously watching Batman at another premier.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  17. NoTheism

    "Self-professed atheists MAY make up only 2% of the U.S. population"
    Mr. Prothero, do you have a source for such a number?
    I could just as easily say that self-professed Christians MAY make up only 2% of the population... do you care to be any more accurate?

    July 27, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  18. Kat

    Atheists only make up a measly two-percent of the U.S. population? This is not 1819.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Etalan

      america is still not a safe place for atheism, so many are in hiding.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • DTC

      What better reason to oppress them. You're an f-head.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  19. NoTheism

    Many don't understand that the problem of evil DISPROVES the Judeo-Christian god... I welcome any reasonable response to my claim.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Ben

      What do you mean?

      July 27, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • NoTheism

      Many don't understand that the problem of evil DISPROVES the Judeo-Christian god

      July 27, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • TimM

      How does Evil disprove Judeo-Christian beliefs in God? We have light because of darkness, day because of night, sadness because of happiness. How can someone 'believe' in Evil, but not believe in Good, which is the foundation of the Judeo-Christian God.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Rob

      His point is simple and true. It is claimed god made everything, then obviously god authored evil. God is often seen in the Hebrew Scriptures performing the worst atrocities known to man. The entire book of Joshua is nothing more than god-sanctioned genocide. He is a vile, disgusting imagination of the Bronze Age mind.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:55 am |
  20. mcccc

    Which of the hundreds of gods is this story referring to? Zeus? I think he was busy making lighting storms that night.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • TannerT

      Odin.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:17 am |
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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.