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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. Jason Lewis

    There is a plan of salvation. It is not yet complete. It is taking longer to accomplish than human beings would like because we are stuck in a world that constantly hurting. We should remember that Gods son Jesus shared in the pain that we have to endure in every way. Until the plan of salvation is complete and Jesus returns, the Devil still holds the deed. God has promised that he will "wipe away every tear." (Revelation 21:4) God acknowledges that there will be pain, and that he will make all things new, including us.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Peteyroo

      JL, don't you think God has had enough time already to prepare his plan? How slow is this guy? What's he waiting for? Let me tell you, my foolish friend. Neither God nor Jesus exists. While I'm at it, and I know this will break your heart, Santa Claus isn't real. Same story for unicorns, leprechauns, the Tooth Fairy, and a host of other children's mythical, magical figures.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  2. The Rationalist

    Why is it so difficult for people to accept that there is no evidence, what's so ever, on the existence of a thing called god. The believers seem to know everything about an imaginary object, but, smartly avoid difficult questions saying they don't understand everything of god.
    Someone in here says god has given us everything except the free will. Now, this guy decides what that god has given and what he hasn't given. And, does he even know where this free will comes from?
    Further, a god can't allow us to do bad things and then later punish us. It must be a damn sadist god for sure. Let's abandon the idea. Use your rationale and enjoy life. Seek truth in science not god!

    July 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Peteyroo

      D'accord!

      July 27, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  3. Seamus Callan

    God was busy blessing all of the moronic reality TV "stars" with another hit TV show for Americans! Glory be to God! Yaaaay, his will be done.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  4. Neal

    Religious demographics are notoriously difficult to quantify, stating "Self-professed atheists may make up only 2% of the U.S. population" is speculation based on insufficient and skewed polls. Most of the people I know (educated professionals) don't follow a religion nor do they believe in god. However, they will state the opposite when asked by someone they don't know because they don't want to be labeled as atheists. What is scary for the believers is that deep down they know this and that is why they preach so hard. Keep demonizing atheism and superficially you will might get 98% belief in god but you will be seeding resentment, and more atheism.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  5. fluke300

    “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.”

    Way to go God. Way to get there and jam that gun AFTER he killed 12 people.
    Did the gun shots wake God up from a nap or something? Isn't he all knowing? He shoulda known this was gonna happen at this exact time and set an alarm clock or something.

    Sad day when the Pre-Crime division of the police department in Minority Report cares more about stopping murder than our Lord and Saviro Jesus 'Bizmack Biambo' Christ.

    Way to go Lazy Trinity.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  6. mac

    What-happened-to-adam-and-eve-when-they-disobyed-GOD?-he-punished-them-What-happened-in-the-time-of-noah?-GOD-wiped-out-everyone-except-eight-people.-GOD-is-not-all-love.-some-of-you-aren't-reading-your-bible-some-of-you-are-listening-to-your-pastor-and-preachers-and-not-getting-into-the-bible-yourselves.-G0D-does-evil-and-he-HATES.-here's-a-chapter-and-verse-for-you.-amos-chapter-three-verse-six-also-isaiah-chapter-forty-verses-fifteen-through-seventeen-showing-GOD-is-not-for-everyone.-deuteromomy-chapter-seven-verse-six.-when-his-son-comes-back-he-is-not-coming-back-to-shake-hands-give-hugs-and-kisses-on-the-chick.-matthew-chapter-10-verse-thirty-four.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Why all the hyphens? Go back to school. Finish the Third Grade. Learn how to use hyphens.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Mitch

      @ mac
      Intresting that you would mention stories in the bible that would require a whole lot of inbreeding to keep the human race going. From your post you seem to have first hand knowledge of the practice, your gentic pool seems to be about ankle deep.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Mac

      @petyroo-i-have-a-broken-spacebar-but-i-know-you-understood-my-post.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  7. Uncle Jetski

    The most fascinating aspect of this thread is that, while "only 2% of the U.S. population, they are extraordinarily active online." That seems to me to suggest that the real issue is that most people won't admit that they don't really believe in God. Only the anonymity of the Internet lets atheism and agnosticism thrive.

    Forget whether God was in Colorado or not; this episode seems to show that most people are simply afraid to admit they don't believe in God – which is the more interesting question regardless of which side you're on.

    We all know that belief in God is a litmus test for politicians in this country. And, in fact, it is also a requirement to live peaceablty in most communities. Move into almost any town, and the first thing people ask you is "What church do you belong to?" Try raising a child without God; after you've tried everything you can to get him to behave, what sanction is left?

    It soundsw to me like each of the 6 non-"There is no God" answers are simply rationalizations, and only 2% of the population are willing to admit it.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Uncle Bumpkin, you're full of horse feathers. There are far more atheists than 2% of the population. I find it hard to believe that 98% of the population is so feeble-minded that they believe in God. Or are you saying that there are many more intelligent, good, and decent atheists who are simply uninterested in saying so?

      July 27, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  8. Greg R

    "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."

    And this goes back to answer number 1. Why is Satan still loose to promote evil? God has the power to stop him and God standing idly by watching innocent people get hurt/killed.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  9. Eric

    God was obviously watching Batman.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  10. Notsure Why

    Why is CNN doing this piece? If I wanted to read Fox News, I'd be there.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Drinky Crow

      If this was Fox News, they wouldn't have even mentioned the atheists' opinions.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  11. ExPAVIC

    Possible Answers

    On a lunch break? Watching a movie? Looking over Mitt Romney so that he doesn't screw up any more than necessary? Keeping an eye on Jerry Sandusky?

    July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  12. larry

    These people that are so upset over children dying are most likely the same ones that will kill an unborn for the inconvenience they cause because they are unwanted.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Are you saying that folks shouldn't be upset over children dying?

      July 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Bekkie

      What sort of backing do you have on this statement? I am interested to know where you pulled your facts from.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you are of the opinion that those who are pro-choice have or would seek an abortion? That women who have terminated a pregnancy don't care about children? That all abortions are done for "convenience"? That all abortions are done because the pregnancy is unplanned and unwanted? Are you also saying that those who are "pro-life" AREN'T upset at the idea of children dying?

      You're wrong on all counts.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  13. Eric

    Pretty dumb article, not worthy of news, no matter what your religious beliefs are. It's just an attempt to continue to keep talking about the story rather than find news elsewhere.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Drinky Crow

      And, yet, you found the need to read it and comment on it?

      July 27, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  14. Christian

    God Loves Us All. Even those who do not believe. It amazes me that so called Atheists claim they know for a "fact" that God doesn't exist. Ha Ha if you "know" God doesn't exist you probably "know" the cure for cancer. I have Faith. Faith in God. No one will ever change that. Even a psychotic Atheist with an AR-15.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • James PDX

      1st off, how do you know this crazy was an atheist? 2nd, how does saying you know God doesn't exist translate to knowing the cure for cancer. 3rd, how does drowning every person on the planet equate to love? 4th, why would a loving god leave his naive children unsupervised with an evil, ultra charismatic serpent running loose?

      July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Eric

      No self-respecting Athiest would say anything 100% for sure that they know anything.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Gmck

      I am an atheist. If I actually believed there was a god, and that "all seeing" "all knowing" "all powerful" god simply allowed all these horrible things to happen, I would hate that god

      July 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      First of all, atheists are willing to be proven wrong, and any reasonable atheist will always admit that of course he does not know, because it is impossible. And the shooter was a church going christian, a man of faith. Most lunatics llike this tend to be men of faith. Reasonable people would never think to commit such crimes. Religion is required for truly heinous acts of violence to occur.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Christmasman, are you suggesting that Christians don't kill? Only atheists commit crime? Whenever horrific things happen is it atheists holding the gun? I, for one, wonder if these mass murderers aren't really deluded believers who got ordained online. Yeah. That's it! Mass murderers get their ordination online then go out to prove to God that they are real men.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  15. The Asian Atheist

    Religion was a great tool to explain what we did not know in the early stages of civilization. These tools have evolved. Now we use science based on observation and experimentation. Religion has outlived it's usefullness, and like the Blackberry, a tool we no longer use or need.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Eric

      It should remain in the desert from which it came, suitable for illiterate bronze age nomads.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Christian

      So what you are telling me is that you know everything there is to know about everything. Wow.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      Of course not, and I don't think that any reasonable person would think I was implying anything of the sort. Just because we do not know certain things does not mean we should resort to a bronze age desert text for the answers. Science admits when it does not know things, but when science learns new things, progress is made. Religion cannot learn anything new, so the progress it makes is very limited. For example we now know that we live in a heliocentric solar system, and that the earth is no longer flat. You see, progress.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Christian

      I believe in knowledge and Science also. Science is not fact it is made of hypothesis and theories that by definition can also never be proven. Exactly why do you believe in science over God.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      Science is based in an observable world, based on cause and effect. Experimentation and testing hypotheses are what allow us to draw conclusions that lead us to verifiable facts. Religion cannot do any of that.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Drinky Crow

      @Christian, you say that you believe in knowledge and science, and then go on to say that science is only made up of theory and hypothesis, and not facts? Sorry to break this to you, but gravity is a fact. So is the fact that we live in a heliocentric solar system, and that viruses and bacteria exist, and that disease is not caused by evil spirits that enter our bodies when we sneeze, and that we can build machines that fly, and that atoms exist, and that molecules are actually made up of atoms, etc, etc, etc...

      July 27, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      Next thing you are going to tell me is that you believe the planet is only 10,000 years old...wait, are you?

      July 27, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Christian

      fact
      A thing that is indisputably the case. So 150 years ago it was a fact that we could not fly. So before 276 BC it was a fact that the earth was flat. I'm in no way saying that we cannot fly or that the earth is flat or that the earth is the center of the solar system. I am merely saying that these are theories. That is why it is called the heliocentric Theory not the heliocentric Fact. Just because you cannot prove it doesn't mean that you cannot have faith in it.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      At this point I now realize that you are literally too stupid to respond to. Facts are theories that have been tested and proven correct. For example, it is a fact that we orbit the sun. Scientists have even observed that fact from space. The earth is also round, also observed from space. And you're misreading the definition of scientific theory. Theories in science are well-substantiated explanations of aspects of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. Again you, like most of the faithful, use incorrect definitions attempt to argue a point.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      Not to mention the fact that scientific hypotheses are postulated, then experimentation is performed to disprove the hypothesis. Religion finds points to argue their case for the existence of god in their oatmeal, or burnt into a tree, or in a cloud. Probably would not hold up to the rigors of the scientific method.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Christian

      It is sad that you have to result to calling people names. The Heliocentric Theory is not proven that is why it is still a theory. Do you know the definition of a Theory?

      July 27, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Christian
      A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have been verified and accepted to be true. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      It is not an insult it is an observation, so I did not 'resort' to anything. And if you read past the first sentence when your little feelings got hurt, you would see that I explained rather clearly what a theory in the scientific community is. Doc backed me up. But at the end of the day, all theories have the potential to eventually be proven wrong, based on new evidence! This is why science offers progress that religion cannot. Science is not afraid to admit when it is wrong in the face of complelling evidence.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Christian

      the·o·ry   [thee-uh-ree, theer-ee] Show IPA
      noun, plural the·o·ries.
      1.
      a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.
      2.
      a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. Antonyms: practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation.
      3.
      Mathematics . a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.
      4.
      the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.
      5.
      a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles: conflicting theories of how children best learn to read.

      From Dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/theory
      If you cannot understand this, it is useless.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Christian

      So based on your definitions, you also believe in things that cannot actually be proven. My point is if you can believe in these theories how is it that you cannot believe in God.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Christian, read the very first definition again. I don't think you have a clue as to what it is saying. The scientific use of the word "theory" is not the same as the casual use. It isn't just a guess or a possible explanation with no foundation.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      So repeating what we both just said is going to prove what? That just because theories can potentially be refuted and proven incorrect we should automatically explain it using the bible? How does that make any sense? We know that nothing in the bible is historically provable, so it is effectively useless in terms of advancing our knowledge of the universe. I am still not grasping how repeating the definitions we used is somehow going to help you. Please enlighten me.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It isn't "belief", Christian. It is acceptance, based on observable evidence. There is no observable evidence for a god.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Christian, clearly you can read a definition, but can you understand it? Your god does not even come close to being comparable to scientific theory. Those can be tested and used to advance technology and our understanding of the universe. Your god is at the conjecture stage without any coherent data to back it up.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      Of course I can believe in things that are not proven as fact! I just cannot believe in things for which there is zero evidence! If shown enough evidence I will be more than willing to believe in something, even if I am being proven wrong. If I am proven wrong, I change my position, that is how science works.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Christian

      "commonly regarded as correct" is not the same thing as "A thing that is indisputably the case"

      July 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Tom Tom
      I should clarify that acceptance is the correct word to use in the context of science, not belief. Observable evidence leading to acceptance, but always with the potential to be proven wrong.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Christian, what is it you are looking to prove here?

      That we "need a god" to explain what we don't yet know? Why? Why do you as sume that what we don't yet know, and may never know, must be the result of a god's hand?

      July 27, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Well if that is your criteria for truth then religion and god fall way short of not only the generally accepted as correct bit, but light years from the indisputable fact case. Your argument just collapsed on itself. Way to trigger a controlled detonation while you are still in the building.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thanks, Asian Atheist. I like the word 'acceptance' because 'belief' connotes 'faith without proof or evidence.'

      July 27, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      If any religious theory was subjected to the scientific method, it would fail miserably and be discarded.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Accepting god as the answer for all we don't know will limit our ability to try and figure out those answers to big questions.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Christian

      I am just saying that as a scientific person you should not deny or dismiss anything.
      a·the·ist   [ey-thee-ist]
      noun
      a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

      From Dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheist

      July 27, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • MarkinFL

      0G-No gods,
      Been there, done that.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      When you produce solid evidence that a god exists, I'll be happy to accept it. Until then, I have no more reason to believe there is one than I do to believe there are leprechauns.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      Using that definition to argue that I should never dismiss any possibility is as ridiculous as saying that just because I don't know whether or not there is a unicorn outside my office, means that it is in fact possible. Keep fishing, I am enjoying myself.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Christian, what if the shoe is on the other foot? Can you allow yourself not to dismiss the possibility that there is no god?

      July 27, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Christian

      If you were truly a scientific person, you should explore all possibilities not just ones that other people tell you are acceptable. The belief in something is what leads us to seek out answers for that belief. Just because you cannot prove it doesn't mean you should give up on your faith that it is real.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You are talking about belief and faith, Christian, not about fact and knowledge.

      I am not going to believe in anything at all unless there's a reasonable amount of evidence for it.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Also, I do not accept that definition of atheist as adequate or acceptable. It should read that an atheist chooses not to believe in a higher power based on the non-existence of evidence to substantiate such claims. It is simply the lack of belief, nothing more.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • not christian

      @christian

      Bertrand Russell believed that religions served to impede knowledge, foster fear and dependency, and are responsible for much of the war, oppresion, and misery that beset the world.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And I disagree with your statement that 'belief in something is what leads us to seek answers for that belief.' If we simply 'believe' that a god was the creator of the universe, why would we seek answers that would prove otherwise? Belief is faith in something without proof. Science doesn't operate that way.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      I have explored the possibility of god's existence. I have researched it quite extensively, because that is how you provide a cogent argument, by knowing the opponents case. I have yet to come across any claims of miraculous occurences or coincidences that could in any way be the work of supernatural forces. I am very open minded about this subject, which is something that you clearly are not. All of my research has produced numerous claims that were immediately discounted by trying to disprove them, which is how a hypothesis is tested.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Christian

      That is why it is called Faith. I know you won't understand this, but when you have a personal relationship with God, it is real. It's not something you can explain to someone who does not have faith. If you could set all aside and for one time, maybe tonight or right now, pray and speak with God. If you genuinely set yourself aside and believe, even if it is just for one moment that he is real, it may change your mind.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yes, Christian, that's what I said. You're the one who asserted that a belief in a god is necessary to explain the things we don't yet know. That isn't true.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      You confuse seeking answers with looking for evidence. You can only look to disprove something with the goal of making it fact if there is compelling evidence in favor of it in the first place. The faithful are still in the observation and conjecture stage, with plenty of conjecture and no observation. Once there is some verifiable observation, then maybe we can move to formulate a hypothesis. Until then, you are in an unwinnable position.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Christian

      Lack of evidence does not disprove that God exist. It just means you don't know.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Back to this again? One can't prove that leprechauns don't exist, either.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Christian

      I never said that believing in God explains things that we do not know. I said that if you were a scientific person you would not dismiss the existence of God.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      Again, your misty eyed professions of contact with a higher power cannot be proven, since they are not tangible and cannot be subjected to the tests needed to substantiate them. The human mind is a pattern seeking device, and is a survival mechanism molded by evolution. The unfortunate side effect is the desire to associate every coincidental occurence with a bigger plan, a grander scheme. This is what religion has fostered, and this is why it is so difficult to let go of. Feelings of elation that you have when you believe you are talking to god can be explained by a couple of things. One, that you are actually communicating with a higher power. Two, that the brain you use holds the idea and belief that prayer is a communicative line to a celestial being, and this is believed so strongly that the mind tells the body to release endorphines into the bloodstream. Which is more likely?

      July 27, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Christian, you said:
      So what you are telling me is that you know everything there is to know about everything. Wow.

      --
      in response to AA's post that religion was not necessary. How else can anyone take this? The implication is that religion is still necessary because there are things we don't yet know. Are you denying that's what you meant?

      July 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Christian

      It is like I said. You will probably never get it because you cannot put yourself aside for one moment and try.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      I don't understand how we all stop believing in santa at age 8 or 9, but we cling to god and jesus till we die. Both have equal servings of ridiculous, with god being a bit more cruel than santa. What is so difficult to let go of?

      July 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      I have a scenario for you:
      Imagine that you see a man walking down the street that just yesterday you saw executed. What is more likely?
      -That a miracle has occured and god has brought this man back from the dead.
      -That you are incredibly mistaken in regards to who was executed.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Christian

      No, what i meant is that it is ignorant to think that mankind has found all the answers for everything there is to know. Being an atheist dismisses the possibility of a God. If you say there is a possibility that, even though you may not understand or have evidence, God exist then you are not an Atheist.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I did try. For decades, Christians. Can you suspend your disbelief in the existence of leprechauns if you "try", even for just a moment?

      Neither could I suspend my disbelief in an invisible being.

      If you can, that's fine for you, but it doesn't make me "unscientific" if I don't.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Christian

      If you are not willing to try, then you will never prove or disprove anything. Dismissing it is not the answer.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      In regards to "putting myself aside", and trying to hear the word of god, I have got to admit that it would be difficult. This would entail disregarding reason for illogic, sacrificing rationality for irrationality, and accepting dogma over being open minded. I know that I could try, but it would not work, because not only would I feel silly, I have critical thinking skills and reason that are far too forceful, and would not allow such things to happen.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That is not accurate, as I think AA pointed out, if I understand his post correctly. The definition you posted is not reflective of atheism as far as I'm concerned. I do not 'deny' there is a god; I don't claim that I know there isn't one. I simply have no belief in one, as I see no evidence that one exists. If you can show me evidence that is convincing and stands up to scrutiny, I would certainly be able to revisit my thinking on the issue. Thus far, no believer has done so.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      from Christian: No, what i meant is that it is ignorant to think that mankind has found all the answers for everything there is to know. Being an atheist dismisses the possibility of a God. If you say there is a possibility that, even though you may not understand or have evidence, God exist then you are not an Atheist.

      Neither science nor mankind has in any way claimed to know all there is to know. We leave that claim to the faithful.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You haven't answered the question, Christian: If you try really hard, can you believe there are leprechauns?

      July 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Christian

      For one time, no matter how silly it may seem, try. What can it hurt... your pride? You may find evidence in ways that you would never know by dismissing it. Only then could you truly say you have exhausted all possibilities.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't think AA ever claimed that we know all we need to know. You put those words in his mouth with your first comment. What I think he did say was that mankind used to use a god to explain all that we did not know. We don't need to use god to explain what we don't know now because we have tools to search for answers that early man didn't have.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      Clearly I am not that busy at work today, so I am able to have this unique conversation, I just wish I could type faster.
      If you accept that your definition of atheist is incorrect, as Tom Tom and I have both clarified, then you have no argument, as you have framed, it to this point. Of course we have to acknowledge the unlikely possibility of a celestial dictator, it would be obstinate of us not to. But we choose not to believe since there is no evidence at all in favor of controlling supernatural forces. I defer to Tom Tom for the remainder of my explanation.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Again, how can anyone force himself to suspend all reason and simply "try to believe"? If you have to "try", then it's not belief.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      AA has already said all that need be said, Christian. You are trying to persuade us to believe in something for which you have provided no evidence.

      And I am off to work myself now.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      You used dictionary.com, which is the wikipedia of dictionaries. Merriam-Webster is a more reliable source, and defines atheist as we have.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Christian

      Its ok, look we can agree to disagree. I just wish that one day you would at least try. Just once, not being sarcastic, just for a moment, even for just one second, pray and be open to it.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Christian

      I accept that and i hope you both have awesome days at work. I'm going to go play 18 holes of golf and eat some pizza.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @Christian
      I have a thing to say about pushing views during a debate. The people involved in the debate should not be, as a stated goal of the debate, trying to convince their opponent to fall in line with their point of view. This is the appearance that a debate may have, but a sincere effort to accomplish this is effort that is typically wasted. When I debate an opponent privately, I look to enjoy stimulating discussion, maybe impress upon them a point or two, and have the same done to me. We both may learn a few things, and potentially concede a few elements of the subject to one another, but we will retain our original stance with the majority of our beliefs still intact. This is how a one to one debate is for me.
      Publicly, I could care less if my opponent learns anything or if he shifts his position to favor my point. This is because I am not after my opponent; I am after the audience.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I've noticed how he avoids the leprechaun question. Somehow he imagines an atheist would have more reason to try to believe in his god than a leprechaun when in fact they are of equal unimportance or likelihood. Christian, do you spend any time trying really hard to believe other superst.itions? Why not? Do you deny any possibility of magical unicorns? I do not. I also do not expect to ever see one or hear of any real evidence of unicorns. Your god may be riding one right now. However, I will not waste my time trying to believe in every silly supersti.tion that humans are so fond of.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Well the abrahamic rendition of god is the more ubiquitous one that people are raised to believe as fact. So in the same way that I cannot bring myself to suspend rational thought, Christian is also incapable of seriously considering the leprachaun.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Christian

      you should really be the asian Agnostic

      July 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Oh dear, I think Christian is having issues with definitions again. Problem is that most of us do not go around thinking of ourselves as atheists or agnostics anymore than we think about being humans or air breathers. Its just a fact. I think the term scientist would fit many of us best.

      July 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Christian

      @MarkinFL
      I have seen your posts. At least The Asian Atheist can have a good conversation with out being an rude. Everyone in here knows how you feel and that you are full of hate. It is evident by how you treat people.

      July 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  16. Hasan

    God was too busy watching people on their toilets.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  17. J Ryan

    Virtually every religious believer is an atheist by definition. If you don't believe in All a h or Shiva, then you are an atheist. We just go one 'god" further.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Gmck

      I don't know anything about Shiva, but isn't Allah the same as the christian god? just different prophets?

      July 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Yes, but the Christian god has higher profits.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  18. Unknown

    Why everything bad that happens in this world God gets the blame for it. Evil was created by Lucifer/ Satan that is why evill exists in this world, the bible says that satan governs the world but as believers of the bible we need to seek for God not blame him for everything bad that happens blame Satan it is because of him why Evil exists.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      I think god made up satan so he had a scapegoat for the times he messed up.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Gmck

      I guess your satan is more powerful than your god. Your satan may have controlled Holmes, but why didn't your god protect the victims?

      July 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • larry

      Hey Asian A, I thought you didn't believe in God....then you say he made up Satan to blame for what he messed up?? Which is it? Do or don't you believe in God? Can't pick and choose.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Unknown

      The Trolls are out today. GJ on taking over my name.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @larry
      Of course I do not believe in god, and your useless attempt at using semantics in order to ridicule is very tranparent. It is quite obvious that I was being facetious in my remark. Try again.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I thought that your god created Satan... Did he lose control? Is Satan more powerful than your god? Or is he serving your god's purpose which either means Satan is not evil or your god is.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Unknown

      I guess your satan is more powerful than your god. Your satan may have controlled Holmes, but why didn't your god protect the victims?

      People die just like people die at war. Evil exists,

      July 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  19. Rod Detmer

    God doesn't interfere with mans free will.We all have a conscience, and some people just do not listen to the side that says "this is wrong, don't do this".

    July 27, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Of course God does not interfere. How can something that doesn't exist interfere? God is no more real than Santa Claus.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Gmck

      He's a pretty worthless god, then, isn't he?

      July 27, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  20. Collieen Gaskin

    God created man with a free will and with a conscience to know right from wrong. God is the One who entreats people not to harm others. Thou shalt not kill (murder). His Word states that the greatest commandment that covers all others is to love God and love others. If we love others, we don't murder them. There will be jjudgment for murderers and at the same time there is comfort for the hurting if they seek Him for that comfort. People who believe it's God's Will for someone to commit murder do not know God. He practically begs us to treat others the same way we would want to be treated.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Colic, God created nothing because he does not exist. Humans know killing is wrong without any help from heavenly beings. BTW, unicorns, leprechauns, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Tinker Bell also don't exist.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Gmck

      I'm an atheist who knows killing is wrong. I don't need your worthless god to tell me that

      July 27, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • SWusan Henderson

      Collieen You are so so right

      July 27, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Peteyroo

      WhoaSusan, you are full of horse feathers just like Colic. There is no Magic Dad (God) or son Jesus. They are as real as the Tooth Fairy and Tinker Bell. Disney made a movie with Tinker Bell in it. You cannot cite the movie as proof of her existance anymore than you can cite the Bible as proof of God's existance. If I were to make a short video and accompany it with a pamphlet claiming that unicorns exist, would that be proof?

      July 27, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • not christian

      Ever see one of those old movies where the killer is going to the place where he/she is to be executed. There is almost always some old priest tagging along mumbling over his prayers and asking the perp to beg for forgiveness and be reedemed before it is too late. Of course jesus died for all of our sins and it seems like the church believes that if you are willing to figuratively kiss his asz at the last minute, you to can be saved, now that is utter BS.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.