Editor’s note: Rob Brendle is the founding pastor of Denver United Church, a former associate pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and the author of "In the Meantime: The Practice of Proactive Waiting."
By Rob Brendle, Special to CNN
I held her hand as she died.
Her family had come to a church where I was pastoring that morning, a routine Sunday. A thousand things would never have crossed their minds as they drove through Colorado Springs toward New Life Church’s enormous concrete worship center - including the prospect of being assaulted in their minivan by a young man with a high-powered rifle.
Later that day, we were all at a local hospital. The girl whose hand I held, Rachel, had already lost a sister at the scene. Her father was down the hall in critical condition and her mother was coming undone in the waiting room, but she didn’t know any of it. Rachel lay unconscious for a couple of hours more in the ICU.
And then she died. Her family had come to church together that morning, and by nightfall they were shattered.
That was almost five years ago.
The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado shook me and the rest of the nation. Reading about the young and unsuspecting victims took me back to the dying girl in the ICU who had come to my church that day in 2007, in a an incident that left the two girls dead and injured several others. Back to the Columbine massacre a decade earlier that horrified the world and traumatized Colorado. And back to the aching questions that accompanied those previous incidents: Why did this happen? Where was God in all of it? How could a loving God allow this?
Where was God in Aurora? 7 responses
We pastors face the unenviable task of being asked to answer for God. Most people ask the big questions in times of irresolution, times when satisfying answers are scarce.
Let’s be clear: there are no easy answers to the deepest questions of suffering. Libraries overflow with the volumes that have been written to address these questions. Centuries of philosophers, pundits and preachers have reflected on the existence of evil, the meaning of pain and the role of God in suffering.
I won’t begin to recount all of their ruminations here. But here’s what I think.
God is the author of life and the originator of good. He distinguished humankind from among his creation with faculties like reason, emotion, dexterity and choice. Scripture teaches that God made people in his image. Set apart from all the rest of his creatures, we were endowed with the capacity to know our Creator and ennobled with the ability to choose him. So singularly did God love humans that he gave us this ultimate gift.
Aurora survivor to alleged shooter: ‘I forgive you’
The capacity to choose God and goodness came with the commensurate ability to choose evil. Is it loving to force his creation to follow his order, or to teach it and leave the creature to choose? It would seem that God came to the same conclusion that America’s founders did many millennia later: compulsory virtue is no virtue at all.
But Scripture also teaches that God is totally in control. He is all-powerful and all-knowing and he is willing and able to intervene in human events. So there is a gap between human choice and divine foreknowledge, a gap that transcends understanding and that helps define God in my mind.
The debate over this theological tension has persisted for centuries, and I don’t aim to settle it here. Let me suggest simply that God, in his sovereignty, has chosen to make our decisions meaningful. Consequently, much of what happens on earth neither conforms to nor results from his preference. There are at least four influences on human events: God’s will, to be sure; but also the will of Satan, our adversary; peoples’ choices, for better or for worse; and natural law (gravity, collision, combustion, and the like).
It is difficult to know which force causes the circumstances that devastate us. But it is enough to know that God need not be responsible for them.
The man who made the Aurora crosses
Much of the internal gridlock around tragedy is because suffering is foreign to us. This foreignness is peculiarly Western and modern. Most of the world, for most of the world’s history, has known tragedy and trauma in abundance.
You don’t get nearly the same consternation in Burundi or Burma, because suffering is normal to them. God and hard times coexist intuitively there. For us, though, God has become Anesthetist-in-Chief. To believe in him is to be excused from bad things. He is our panacea for the woes of life.
The God of the Bible promises no exemption from suffering. In fact, he all but promises suffering. He does not suggest that his followers won’t go through fire, but rather that we won’t burn up. Mostly he promises to be there with us, to comfort and encourage us and renew our strength. God grieves with us, and he grows us into good people in the process.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
Where was God in Aurora? He was on the lawn in front of the Civic Building as thousands gathered in solidarity, hope, and love at a packed prayer vigil last Sunday. He was in University Hospital as neurosurgeons groped for synonyms for miraculous.
He was in the outpouring of compassion at a victim’s funeral and in the passionate call for unity from a resolute councilwoman and at the bedside vigil of a wounded victim’s church community. Redemption has only begun in Aurora, and already God is everywhere. Their will be beauty once this story is written that overshadows and transcends the ashes.
Jesus started his ministry by declaring, “I am the light of the world,” and ended it with “you are the light of the world.”
What God our cities will see is what we show them. From the beginning, light has shone in the darkness - he ordered it that way. And the deeper the darkness, the brighter the light will appear. Where is God in Aurora? He is shining brightly from the hearts of his people.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rob Brendle.
God here. I thought I would take the time to personally explain my absence in the Aurora shootings. While I was at it, I thought I would also explain my absence during every murder, massacre and crime that has ever taken place in World history, and in every war, in every famine, drought and flood.
You see, I do not exist. I never have. Did it really make sense to you that I would create an entire Universe with billions of billions of planets and wait about 13,700,000,000 years just so I could focus on a few Jews from Palestine about 2,000 years ago while ignoring the rest of the 200,000,000 people on the planet at the time? Did I make those few Jews or did those few Jews make me?
Further, do you really think I would sit back and do nothing while Nazis killed 6 million of my “chosen people,” but find it important enough to intervene and turn water into wine to stop some hosts being embarrassed at a wedding in Cana? Why did I seem to be so active in the Middle East for a brief period about 2,000 years ago, but totally absent everywhere else on the planet and for the rest of recorded history? Did I make the Jews or did the Jews make me?
So, you really think my periodic miracles prove my existence hey? Then why not something inarguable and unambiguous, like a huge crucifix in the sky, or my face on the moon? Why is it always that believers have to construct my miracles out of perfectly explicable natural events?
This happens every time there is a tragedy or near tragedy of any kind, anywhere in the world and in all cultures. Captain "Sully" Sullenberger pilots a distressed plane to land safely on the Hudson River in New York City with no deaths, and it's a miracle from God; a young girl is found in India, totally terrorized, but alive after being abducted and ra.ped for a week, and it’s a miracle from my competi.tor Rama (or Vishnu or Shiva) that she is returned to her parents; or a family in Northern Pakistan survives an errant American missile attack, and it’s a miracle from Allah.
What all these self-serving proclamations of miraculous intervention always ignore is the downside of the incidents. The fact that the passengers and crew of Flight 1549 were terrorized and the plane destroyed, that 11 innocent people are dead in Aurora, that the girl was held for seven days, ra.ped and sod.omized and will be traumatized for the rest of her life, or that a number of innocent civilians were killed by the missile.
Of course, none of these incidents really are "miracles.” When the totality of facts are taken into account, "miracles" turn out to be nothing more than believers who are desperate for some sign of my existence ignoring the downside of a set of facts, focusing solely on the upside and calling the quarantined "good" a miracle from me or one of the other sky-fairies. A CEO might as well ignore the liability side of his balance sheet and declare it a “miracle” that his company just doubled in value.
Another annoying habit my “miracles” seem to have is that they always seem to tag along, just behind medical science, like an annoying kid brother who won’t go away. Until the mid nineties, those with AIDS who prayed for a miracle were never granted one. Medical science finds a way to permanently suppress the disease, and all of a sudden I start to perform miracles with AIDS patients. No polio patient ever received a miracle until the Salk vaccine and I routinely ignored cancer patients until chemotherapy and radiation treatments were developed. Suddenly, prayers to me from cancer patients are regularly “answered.”
Why is it that I still seem deaf to the pleadings of amputees who would like their fingers, arms or legs back, to those who have physically lost eyes or ears, to the horribly burned and to all others who ail from patently visible and currently incurable maladies? Why is it that, at the very same time, I am very receptive to the prayers of those whose condition is uncertain, internal and vulnerable to miraculous claims?
Take five minutes to make two lists; one of those ailments I will miraculously cure and the other of those I will not. You will quickly find it coincides perfectly with those conditions medical science (or the human body itself) can defeat and those we cannot. Why do you think that is? It is almost as my miracles are created out of medical ambiguity isn’t it?
No, my human friends. I am afraid I do not exist. I do not read your minds (or “hear your prayers” as you like to call it) and you are not going to achieve immortality (or “eternal life” as you like to call it) no matter how many commandments from Iron Age Palestine you choose to “keep”. Move on and enjoy the few years you have. You were all dead for the last 13,700,000,000 years and it wasn’t that least bit uncomfortable now, was it?
"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." – Buddha
"You are your own worst enemy. So to enjoy life, tell yourself to sit down, shut up, and hang on, because it's going to be one Hell of a ride! | Originality, not Intelligence, is the sign of a brilliant Author. All the Education in the world won't help someone who can't think for themselves." – A.M. Sawyer
This is a terrific, cogent answer. I wish I could "like" it.
Well said. That pastor's euphoric rant is proof positive that gibberish can be written in full sentences.
This is the best, and the true light. Believers are scared of two things: 1) That they could be wrong about faith, which means they've given up Sundays and a huge chunk of their god-swelled brains over their life. No one likes to be wrong, especially if it means they've /always/ been wrong. 2) There scared that their lives won't end with bright lights and a meeting with the chosen one– I mean, death that's just darkness isn't the same.
Amen, your post is exactly what this article should have been. Not really–the fact that CNN is running faith front and center is tacky, and obviously a ploy to get readers/sell ad clicks. It's a shame.
How can God not exist if he just wrote this? He signed it afterall......lol
There is no such thing as Justice
It is an illusion. A myth. A fairy tale. Life really isn't fair. The question is, why do you think it's supposed to be? Who started that idea? Job? The people who tried to put a good face on beating people up by inventing the Queensbury Rules? We don't know.
Justice sounds like a good idea because it sort of equalizes the pain. I get hurt, so you get hurt in return. Well there's more ocean than land, more roaches than roach motels, and more salesmen than prophets. Things just aren't meant to be equal. Suffering and happiness are not weights in some cosmic Martha Stewart food scale, their relative proportion is completely unpredictable, just get over it.
Here's the deal. Tragedy may be unequal, but it isn't random. Yes, there is a meaning, we're giving a bit away early here. Bad things usually happen to forcefully slap us out of whatever stupor we are in at the time. We are supposed to start questioning our beliefs. We are supposed to figure out what is and what is not important to us. People usually don't change unless they feel sufficient pain to overcome their natural resistance to change. Change takes energy. Nothing energizes like tragedy. What suffering is usually supposed to encourage us to do is figure out how to avoid suffering in the future. Find out what happy people do and imitate them. This is not rocket science.
If tragedy seems random and cruel now, it isn't. You're just not wanting to look at the facts. What facts those are exactly will be addressed in the Meaning of Life Part II.
Of course, if people don't get the hint and continue to imitate deer staring into the headlights of destiny, well, that's their lookout. Do not get mad at God/the universe/insert your cosmic principle here. Do what you're supposed to do, pick your ass up off the ground and try again. Nobody likes a crybaby.
You can't get out of it by going limp and giving up. That usually makes it worse. Athletes must tolerate a certain level of pain to reach their goals. You are no different.
As for the injustice of loved ones getting killed, etc., that has its own purpose. Don't ask unanswerable questions about other people; you've got enough to worry about with your own situation. If you get tragically killed, then you'll understand. Until then, forget it.
We have been criticized about the callous nature of this page. For people who have recently lost family members, etc., this little diatribe can sting. However, the message is still true even for them. Life is very unfair, but like chemotherapy, it does the job.
Oh, my brother, what have you done? You are risking the family farm just to share the truth? How are we going to explain this to the stockholders?
That was awesome – thank you for a great read first thing this morning.
Colin – very succinct. A minority of us grow up and mature and see reality clearly. The majority of people cling to the fairy tales and myths of their religions and never bother to think for themselves. That is, they remain children for life. Maturity involves facing our situation for what it is and what the facts are, not what we wish it would be.
Very nicely done.
This reminds me of this >> i very good speech about our beloved god, and the zombies that just happened to rise from the grave, when Jesus was resurrected.
Broken link?.. odd last attempt.
Brilliant, Colin, just brilliant...
Wow! You poor sole! Be sure you have this letter in hand when you stand before God!
spot on. thanks for this! could not have said it better. god does NOT exist. that simple statement succinctly answers every single theological question anyone has ever had. it explains EVERYTHING!
In spite of the fact that NotaFan seems to think you are a fish (you poor sole), I think you are brilliant and this was most excellent. Thank you.
Excellent post, Colin. That was more thoughtful, intelligent, and respectful to the victims than the actual post.
I really wish I could indicate a "like" on your post, because it was very insightful. It was written without malice, just clarity. I hope that other people read it and at least contemplate it for a while, before they retreat back to aching over Aurora and the numbing effect of prayer and questions. We were created to think, we've been given all the tools to do so.
Your comment is fantastic. I sincerely hope that every religious person reads this and starts to ask questions.
Wait... if God's not real, then what are all these churches for? And who's Jesus's dad?
With all due respect to you and your opinion, this man is simply trying to offer a little comfort and clarity to those confused and hurt by this tragedy, to those who may chose to hold on to their beliefs despite them being shaken. This is not a defense of Christianity to those who don't already believe. And it is certainly more commendable to offer said help, however incomplete, than to attack them when they are down and tell them that, "Sorry, in addition to your suffering, your beliefs are foolish and you should be ridiculed for them" ,no matter how much you hide your dagger under a cloak of "truth" and "enlightenment", just as you claim we believers do.
In response to MosesR, there comes a time when a magical teddy bear is no longer appropriate consolation for adults.
Well said Collin. Crazy how we laugh at children for believing in Santa Clause or the tooth fairy, but its totally rational for adults to believe in something just as insane. Well shouldn't throw in St. Nick in there.... there's actual evidence he existed, unlike the other 2.
well said Colin. It's times likes this that people need truth and clarity rather than empty promises. please continue to preach. Do you have a blog?
God gave every living creature free will.
We have not used our will in ways not everyone can approve of.
Sometimes in ways that no one can approve of.
We are not above the suffering, horror and death that all life is subject to.
We will be subject to the consequences of our choices and of the environment which makes life possible.
It is enough to live in a universe where life is possible. There is no need for it to be made to the specifications of each of us.
We will not have all of our desires met without fail, and without effort.
We have free will.
Face the world.
Evaluate its troubles.
Do something about them.
Don't wait for someone else to do it.
Don't wait for God to do it.
And don't wait for it to be easy.
You will gain a life beyond your wildest imaginings
And you will experience God's greatest gift
Thank you Colin. That's just brilliant.
So amazing, I've shared this piece of wisdom on Facebook after seeing it on reddit (credited to you of course, albeit somewhat sloppily), and it has spread like wildfire, all over the internet, thinking people are singing your praises. And then there's those who would eschew thinking in favor of faith, they are so threatened by your arguments that they are resorting to name-calling and threats against those of us who admire this piece. I wish I could say I was surprised. Anyway, thanks again for inspiring intense debate, and perhaps for changing a mind or two.
now the God who posted this comment, is one I can get behind!
Well done Colin, well done.
Well spoken, colin.
I hope you don't mind me reposting this, (with attribution, of course) Your post is great, and made greater by the discourse it elicits.
Yes. This. Superbly done, Colin.
Very, very, very well put.
Colin, did you even read the whole sermon?
"The God of the Bible promises no exemption from suffering. In fact, he all but promises suffering."
You appear to have missed everything from that part down.
What a brilliant response.
i pity u colin...GOd bless...
You are a brilliant man, sir. You should also serve as a great example for militant atheists all around the world. I applaud your cajones. Also, pretty sad that militant atheism is just being outspoken about it while being militant about religions actually brings in a military (or militia) XD
@Simon: If Allah isn't real, why Muslims and mosques, et cetera, et cetera.
Excellent work, Colin.
Colin, I get the distinct impression both you & Biscuitcreek are Bill Maher posting with different names. Meant as a compliment either way.
It would be interesting to know if mass murderers believe(d) in God, don't you think? Anyone know? I'm pretty sure I know the opinions of the believers (obviously not, or he/they wouldn't have done it, etc, to which I'd reply, "Oh ya, ya think? Ok, I know of at least a handful of Catholic priests to send your 10 yr old children to visit – ya ya I know, hate the sin love the sinner ). But really, I'd just like to know. Doesn't prove anything one way or the other, & either way wouldn't surprise me (in this crazy world). but ya gotta admit it'd be interesting, no?
I don't know much about either side of this "debate" but I'm wondering if Atheists fully understand the concept/position of the "proof" believers claim? You know, the jigsaw puzzle God analogy – he only shows believers where the next piece goes after they prove to him/her sufficiently that they've earned it? Which is like going to work to get paid IRL now.
Personally I believe something couldn't possibly come from nothing w/o intelligent design. I mean really, how could it?
On this count alone, in my view believers have won the debate with their explanation of why we couldn't prove/know the answer, but I've not heard any possibilities from non believers that explain how all this could have began. But again, I've not gone to any Atheist web sites to delve into their views. Seems to be the right place to ask right here, though.
Since you appear so intelligent Colin, please enlighten me on how else it could have possibly all begun. If there was something here before the universe, then where did it come from.
I've seen Atheists on this sites two "debate" forums actually ask who God's father was, thereby ignoring religion's stance on why you can't know.
So it seems both sides are equal, but at least religion's side as a plausible possibility.
So it seems Atheists can't prove (even suggest) how this could have began, & religion can't prove that it did begin. Are these the correct positions/views of both sides?
Sorry, it's hard for my pea brain to even try to understand. Don't mean to offend anyone on either side of the fence here.
You are a SUPREME MORONIC IDIOT!! Pick up a bible and read it before you go spouting crap that doesn't make any sense all over the idiot. Guess you're going straight to hell too... this I would spend time thinking about if I were you. You're only going to be on this Earth maybe 50 – 70 more years? After that it's infinity ...and for you that infinity will be in a house of horrors. I feel sorry for you. KNOW THIS:
What God our cities will see is what we show them. From the beginning, light has shone in the darkness – he ordered it that way. And the deeper the darkness, the brighter the light will appear. Where is God in Aurora? He is shining brightly from the hearts of his people.
UNDERSTAND THIS MORONIC IDIOT?? DOUBTFUL. YOUR "STORY" PROVES THAT YOU ARE OFF THE CHARTS AS FAR AS HOW MORONIC YOU TRULY ARE.
A tiny bit of obvious logic can seem so intelligent when it is in direct contrast to the absolute beliefs of millions of otherwise intelligent people.
I would love if Frank would define "nothing", and explain how "a god" fits into nothing without making it something instead. I don't really understand why the religious want the atheists to prove the religious peoples' own flawed point that something came out of nothing, instead of first proving there was nothing in the first place. Of course, proving that would also mean there was no god.
And @Sally Blythe, thanks you did an excellent job exposing your true (Christian) colour.
Colin for President.
Frank, atheists don't claim to know how the world came about, they simply look at the natural world around us, see patterns, and make educated guesses leading to theories like the big bang. A Christian on the other hand somehow has this knowledge because of various books written separately and put together from several people claiming to say the words of god himself. The chance of that being the truth is just at much as the chance of the magical unicorn on my shoulder being the original cause of the universe, which is basically 0, or should i say an infinitely small chance because there are an infinite amount of possibilities. Take gravity for instance, one could say, there are tiny invisible fairies that make it work by pulling everything down to earth, but through observation of earth and the stars around us, scientists have concluded that gravity is a forced caused by the mass of objects, like the earth. there is no evidence to disprove the fairy theory, but there is nothing to support it as well, and there is even a more likely theory that has some support to it(mass of objects). That is basically the situation about peoples beliefs regarding the origin of the universe.
Oh...that's good to know, cause if god did exist...he's a terrible person.
It's cool how atheists actually HAVE all the answers! Thanks to science they can authoritively say that there is no god and that they are 100% right. Because coming up with the answer to something no man is capable of knowing the answer to is definitely science!
The regret you will have when you die, it's gonna be mind boggling for you.
Epic! I bow to you, ColinGod.
Oh God... oh no god... great post.
Brilliant. Thank you Colin. Logical people need to speak out more often, just like this.
"Jaro: I would love if Frank would define "nothing""
The thing science keeps saying the universe is expanding into. I was under the impression the universe was "everything" & infinite. If it's finite, what exists beyond it which allows it to expand? Is it sitting in endless otherwise empty space, iow, if you were able to go to it's edge, could you go beyond it or even look out into it with a telescope & if you did, what would you see, empty space? What's that? Just empty space? Didn't know it existed, but if it does, sure sounds like a whole lot of nothing to me. No stars, black holes or anything? Sounds like nothing, doesn't it? k, where did this space of nothing in it come from? What created empty space & how could anything ever be created from it w/o intelligence? Does this imply/indicate a space full of nothing is actually something? You tell me, cos' I really wanna know.
If it is I just don't comprehend how it could be considered as anything else but the big kahuna, God.
Colin, I'd like to know who the "Christian Pastor" was that penned this article!
Have any of you who question whether God exists or not ever read the bible? God created man and gave the world to him, man sinned and by doing that gave handed the world over to Satan, which means Satan is the ruler of this world and God is not allowed here unless invited. We live in Satan's backyard and John 10:10 says he comes to kill, steal, and destroy. look around, I see a LOT of that going on. God says in the same verse "but I have come to give life and give it more abundantly." but unless we pray and ask for God's help he can do nothing even though it's His will to do so. When God gave the world to man and man gave it to Satan, God honored that, He gives US choices and that's the choice that was made. If He were to save everyone without them giving Him permission to do so then that would make Him a lier and God cannot lie. I understand that most of you will not like or agree with this and that is fine, it's your choice, but you also have the choice to change and give God a chance to move in your life. I guarantee you that if you truly changed and let God in you would have more peace and more freedom than you've ever known.
Colin, I get the reasoning behind this. I'm just saddened by the sudden outburst of anti-God sentiments around the thing. Do you actively look for Christian sites and then post comments like these? The funny thing is, the satirical statements you made are not true of all Christians. Not everyone who believes in God is an idiot. What I find VERY immature are people who believe differently ridiculing the people who do not share the same beliefs – I speak both of Believers and Non-Believers. People who claim to be Christians calling you an idiot, and people agreeing with you and calling Christians idiots. I for one choose to believe, but I also know that many natural things that transpire are due to explicable reasons. Natural and manmade tragedies are not "signs from heaven." God is not Santa, he is beyond explanation, and I like immersing myself with knowledge and still believe in the creator. Who knows, perhaps evolution is real, and perhaps God breathed (metaphorically speaking) life into the first ever living cell where we all came from. Science is a wonder, knowledge is a boon, however, for people to take up such a condescending stance against those who practice faith, it is, in my opinion, an abuse of all the knowledge we have compiled throughout the millenia of our existence as Human Beings. The bottom line of this is – Respect. There are brilliant people out there who believe in God and I'm sure there are complete idiots (in the literary sense low IQ people) who are atheists. It's part of the beauty of Humanity – our diversity. So unless you were personally wronged by someone who practices the faith, I would suggest to post your opinions on atheist websites if you do not wish to keep them to yourself.
It is sad that you truly have nothing better to do than to write a whole degrading wall of text. Just because you are unhappy with your beliefs you shouldn't try to bring down the beliefs of others. If you don't have anything good to relay, then don't relay anything at all. Also, to me, this world is ours given to us by god to test our faith, our humanity and our morality. We alone are in control of it, it is to no fault of anything else but OURS that we allow shootings such as this to happen. We ALONE are responsible, We should not try to set blame on anything else but US. We are here, we have control and we should set better examples and help those who are struggling with life.
I agree wholeheartedly with Seph. As a recently-converted atheist (from Christianity), I can still see the beauty and the hope that belief in God brings to people, and I can see the good that it does in peoples' lives. As an atheistic community, we seem to focus much more on the negative side of religion, and we take it upon ourselves to share that in sarcastic and sometimes hurtful ways, thinking that that will "bring people to the light".
I feel that, beyond being atheist or Christian, as human beings, it should be in our greater interest to look at all sides of the story, try to see things from every perspective, and be humble in the fact that we will never truly understand the world from someone else's point of view. And then be able to bask in the wonder of our diversity.
Leave others to what makes them happy.. you don't rail on someone because they like chocolate ice cream and you don't. Trust people to have the brainpower to move in whichever direction makes sense to them.. they'll get there if they want to, and if they don't, then it's not your right to force them there anyway.
i.m.o.,..religion is evil itself... Its the cause for a lot(but not all) of senseless wars, violence, division, oppression etc.... I live a perfectly normal life and i'm happy without any religion or 'god' for that matter
Your religion is YoURSELF and when your body dies u will have eternity to try to escape Yourself!!
Ignorance is bliss.
And I don't mean that as a dig at all.
God transcends religion - but if all you can see is religion, than you are only looking at Man.
Personally, I've never been able to stand religion because it was full of mankind telling me what God was, and how to act.
I couldn't trust mankind to live in harmony with his brothers and God's creatures and creation, why should I trust them to tell me about God?
But I found Him anyway, outside of all that.
We find what we look for, that is all.
It's not about the answers, for the questions we ask are what defines our reality.
One is no more valuable than another.
All the religious pseudo profundity spews from the self inflicted psychosis of 'Daddy is hurting me because He says he loves me'. It is an adolescence reaction to great and indifferent evil by a all powerful parent. A doe eyed mindset of faith must trump trust in such an arrangement. We are old enough and strong enough and intelligent enough to strike back at the abusive Magic Parent, but we have come to need His brand of abuse in ways that rather disturb us- or should.
Well said. I look forward to the day when CNN won't have a belief blog to pander to scared people.
ANOTHER MORONIC IDIOT POURS HIS CRAP OUT......
Sally Sally Sally
You are the moronic dolt for spouting the things you do. If god has followers that molest young boy and girls by gods will then I would rather worship Snowflame. At least he makes me smile while all the things done in gods name at the worst crimes ever comitted. Slaughtering thousands of people in name of god is okay as long as you are doing in his name.
What have athetiests done to make this world terrible? What have they done to children other then letting then choose for themselves on the belief for god? Nothing. Athetiests don't scream and rant how others are going to suffer for all time just because they did not believe.
They WANT to believe but can not find proof of a actual psychically real thing. Not just half hearted feelings instilled with us by thousand of years I practice.
Maria White – I think you're taking a very narrow and stereotypical view of Christianity here. No, not all men who claim to be priests, pastors, bishops, or clergy in general do so with the best of interests. There will always be pretenders, people who are in it for the money, power and/or fame. Perhaps Atheists as a group truly have not done anything terrible (except bash and discredit Christianity – but then that's not terrible at all is it?), but we're all human beings here. There are probably Christians and Atheists who have committed crimes in the past. Best not to overgeneralize. You're speaking of Christianity as a group, but you need to know how big the group you are talking about is and that there are groups within this umbrella, groups that do not belong to your so-called child-abusers and soothesayers. I live in a Catholic Country and even as a Christian I tire of the idiotical statements of our Cathoic Church, those who fight against Reproductive Health and Family Planning spouting "Go forth and multiply" and that our typhoons (yet we live in a tropical country) are signs from God that a certain Reproductive Health law should not be passed. We believe in the same God, yet I doubt if their practice is gearing towards the right intentions.
And his son Jesus was mowing my yard, again, really sorry to keep your Dieties so busy...
I don't know what your smoking. He was helping me decide between whole or 2% milk...
Hey! Jesus is supposed to me MY gardener! What's he doing over there?!
wait Jesus was in the woods where I walk and he asked me if I want to smoke pot... I think he is magical... O.O or maybe it was the pot.
The author skips over the most important issue and then develops his argument. Namely, does god even exist.
He says god doesn't force us to follow his rules, we must choose. It would help if he would show himself.
I "choose" to believe in the sun because it's existence is obvious . Not so with god.
Instead, I have to rely on what people say about god. With 35,000 denominations of Christianity, it's obvious people don't have a clue.
The explanation that makes the most sense is that god is imaginary.
I you can see the wind?
No Jd, but you can feel it on the skin of your cheeks, watch it play with the litter of the streets or witness it rage in its most violent forms.
In response to JD:
Yes you can see the wind, when it blows it moves the trees.
JD: Wind is an observable, natural phenomenon that can be observed, tested, measured, etc. The same cannot be said of God.
I don't think it would help if He showed Himself. If a heart is hardened, nothing will convince him or her to believe, even if the truth is right in front of them. You have to have faith and sincerely seek God- because He has already made Himself known in more than one ways.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
That's absurd. Suggesting that a I would dismiss actual physical evidence for God because centuries of allegorical, hypothetical or rhetorical evidence for God hasn't gotten through my "hardened heart" is ridiculous. I hope you can see how ridiculous it is. If the supreme creator of the universe manifested on Earth and started performing magic, this new physical evidence would trump ALL the allegorical evidence. That's how evidence works. Atheists are foaming at the mouth for evidence. We want evidence very badly, and we continue to ask you for evidence. When you can't produce any evidence, your hipster answer is that our hearts are hardened and we wouldn't accept evidence even if it existed? That's mentally dishonest and morally bankrupt.
You're wrong. Hard core evidence would not change your unbelief.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus to jump through some miraculous hoops for them, He refused and said: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39–40).
Jesus said they’d get a sign that would be THE sign for all generations. But what happened when Christ provided them with His resurrection miracle? Matthew tells us that the very guards the religious leaders put in charge of guarding Jesus’ tomb witness the event and afterwards “went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.””.
The end result of Jesus’ miraculous resurrection to the hard core skeptics was a cover up to avoid the truth and a plot to spread unbelief to others. That’s how hardened unbelief reacts to miracles.
If you are interested in reading the whole thing: http://blogs.christianpost.com/confident-christian/what-evidence-will-satisfy-hard-core-unbelief-10198/
Sorry, god was busy doing my taxes. took his eye off the ball on this one and wants me to apologize. He feels like A DICK.
God was the same place as the Tooth Fairy..not existing.
According to the book of Genesis, God created man, then he created a "garden" for him, and within that garden stands a tree of all knowledge and tells man, whom He had created and full-well knew what was in man's mind, told man not to eat the fruit of that tree...God comes back later and says "what have you done", as if He doesn't already know, then casts a curse on everyone involved....
"As The World Turns" has better plots than this.
If God was fallible enough to have created a fallible man, then surely, He created us in His own image.
Don't forget about the part in Genesis where "god" called out to Adam after Adam had eaten that fruit, and had hidden from "god". "god" had to call out because he could not find Adam ... so much for omniscience, huh?
Mirosal, it wasn't that God called out because God didn't know where Adam was. He called out to give Adam the opportunity to repent for himself. None of us are really hidden from God, and He is calling each of us. It is then our choice to answer affirmatively or not. He loves us enough to leave the choice up to us, but His desire is that each of us accepts Him. Your choice is your personal decision, but I hope you will someday fully consider accepting His gift.
It is always stunning to read people expand passionately on the color of the Easter bunnies shorts or whether he hops or runs more. You cannot be a sane rational human and do such things.
Man was created in the image of God and the first order of creation, in that man was given awareness; the ability to attain self-actualization. People today, whether they're believers or not, like to think that when it was said, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," that it implies literal physical and mental attributions. While it causes no real harm, to speculate on things that are not well understood–it bears no weight, for a determination of that effect. In fact, people have no basis for understanding, to say much at all definitively about Adam and Eve. However, at least a few thinkers like the story well enough to reuse the same names when researching the evolution of man's species.
Although I have no intentions of validating my own statements, here–God had already created infallible beings, in the first order. The reference to 'us', in Genesis, was in reference to that higher order of existence than man. Whereas the first order's creation was perfect, this one was never intended as idyllic for those within it. When one tries to reconcile the creation stories with their idea of what it should have been, a disparity in reasoning will follow. Simply put, people today weren't privileged to bear witness in that time. In this time, it is simply a shared privilege to debate over hazy beginnings; to employ countless and endless arguments that appeal to one's own inability to sufficiently validate themselves.
When the bible says thou shall not eat from the tree of knowledge, it's pretty obvious they want you to remain stupid. Don't think for yourself....believe the nonsense they want you to believe.
No thanks.....give me the knowledge.
That god guy pulled off one heck of a set-up: create man without the knowledge of good and evil, then blame man for doing something evil. Man was supposed to know what he was doing was evil how, exactly? And every human ever after that has to pay the price for it, even though they supposedly know better thanks to those first two eating the fruit. No escape for anyone that knows how to avoid the trap.
Who came up with this whole idea of gaining knowledge through eating food? The only thing I've learned from eating is that I like chile peppers and banana cream pie is awesome.
"Let’s be clear: there are no easy answers to the deepest questions of suffering. Libraries overflow with the volumes that have been written to address these questions. Centuries of philosophers, pundits and preachers have reflected on the existence of evil, the meaning of pain and the role of God in suffering."
Yes, but it all boils down to the same thing. The perpetual absence of God in every single human or man-made tragedy in all of human history is very simply explained by his non-existence. Anything above that is pure mind-games. We mght as well ruminate over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
The argument from silence is as good as one can get to reasonably defending one's belief that God does not exist. If you could overcome limitations, such as Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty, or the observer's effect–it would be much easier to qualify oneself as being sufficiently qualified to make such a determination, to state that something cannot be, based on a lack of evidence.
People have a hard enough time determining if they should buy or hold a stock, leave their cheating spouse, or save up for retirement. Even with the advent of the scientific method, happenstance largely governs our thoughts and actions. It's not like one's disbelief means they're any different from another's belief, insomuch that they're going to be able to drop a ball from the top of a mountain, then know precisely where it will come to rest. Within chaos, if the signal one's reality exists within is consistently corrupted by others, it might not be a bad idea to go below the noise floor; naturally or artificially. In other words, it's all mind games, above or below the fold, when the imperfect observer comes to conclusions, solely because they couldn't prove a negative. If one can, then it's perfectly acceptable to ruminate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin; those that can't might do well to at least accept that it's likely greater than or equal to zero.
This debate only exists if one believes that god is a noun not a verb. (karma). And Karma is really an Expression.
For non-abrahamic "religions", evil and good are conducted by human kind, or what is called the material universe.
He was in University Hospital as neurosurgeons groped for synonyms for miraculous.
Wrong. Science was there. Where was God? If God was anywhere, he was in a movie theater holding a shotgun. According to the Bible, God has been responsible for more deaths that any human.
Never forget. Whatever it is you want to remember.
So then agnostic means "doesn't know what to believe"?
Yes, no I believe that belief his very important if you don't care. Therefore don't believe in it but do take a step forward and go back to what it is not.
Not quite. Many people think of theist and atheist on two ends of a spectrum, with agnostics sitting undecided in the middle. In fact, "agnostic" means "without sure knowledge" so most people are actually agnostics when it comes to a god, since they don't know for a fact that god/gods do not exist. The nuance comes in the combination of gnostic/agnostic and theist/atheist. A gnostic theist knows there is a god and believes there is a god. An agnostic theist does not know that there is a god, but believes there is a god. A gnostic atheist knows there is no god and believes there is no god. And an agnostic atheist does not know if there is a god, but does not believe there is a god.
No, Agnosticism is the belief that it is impossible for us to know 100% either way that a deity does or does not exist.
THANK YOU! You're one of like 17 people who actually get this right.
People don't understand that a person could theoretically be an "agnostic atheist" or an "agnostic Christian." The terms are not mutually exclusive, and agnosticism isn't "straddling the fence," as my grandmother would say.
Thank you for your comments. I for one believe in God and that He does exist. There will probably never be an answer that will satisfy for why these tragedies occur – they are horrific and sad. But Rob did point out all the places where we did see God's presence. Just maybe God is always present but sometimes His presence gets covered up by that which is His opposite. I for one believe that if I continue to look for God and good, I will see less of evil.
Oh gee I am sorry ky46, was god too busy making traffic lights change and helping blue hairs cure cancer in the poor lady next door who lost her husband last year but through the goodness of god the church elders are feeding her and.....what? There was a mass murder? Babies were killed? God will get to that after he help the U.S. win a beach volleyball game.
What a literal name for you. You obviously don't have a clue to Christian's position concerning such matters. But the short answer is you'd be a complete puppet if he was responsible for all that. It's his choice to PRECISELY allow this to occur for his/her plan, not for our reasoning. I'm pretty sure it's so people like you WILL doubt, because that's part of his plan too. But you just don't see that, huh.
so he did nothing to stop it but he showed up after the mess,. i still say he did it some people can flatter him more
So for you God can only exist in a utopian world? Mass murders occur rarely but life's difficulties are with us every day. It is our response to kife's ordeals that reflects good human qualities. Compassion, bravery, healing, generosity, all these qualities can only truly exist in the face of life's challenges.
no to me you god did this so people will flatter him
Why would an all-powerful and all-loving God create any world that wasn't a utopia? Why would he even allow the concept of evil or suffering? And if your argument is that free will is important to God, then what about Heaven? If there's no sin in Heaven, doesn't that violate free will?
Dear Pastor Brendle,
We welcome you to the 21st century with a prayer:
The Apostles' Creed 2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)
Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????
I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
(References used are available upon request.)
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
The Guards’ Report
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. From Matthew 27-28
And not smoking is a habit. Idiot.
Not smoking isn't a habit.Atheism requires more faith because atheists have nothing to support it.No evidence has surfaced on what they believe,so "not believing" is believing.Once the stage of rejection becomes believing,that atheist requires faith.
Try all the dumb excuses you want,atheism needs faith.
Unknown Clown is back.
The absence of belief, is not the belief in absence. There is no shred of evidence for gods. The positive claim, is that your invisible, non-showing-herself deity exists, despite no evidence.
So, your logic is this: If you don't believe in a thing(s) you still are a believer in something(s)? I don't believe in god, so I am a believer in..(unexplained simplistic logic)..? Atheists don't believe god exists, but don't have to prove it. The bizarre and idiotic claims lie with those who claim a thing. If you can get your pea sized head to understand that.
“I have spoken these things to you so that you shall have peace in me. You shall have suffering in the world, but take heart, I have overcome the world John 16
He's making a list
and checking it twice.
He's going to find out who's naughty and nice.
Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town.
"Gabba gabba, we accept you, we accept you, one of us"
– Joey Ramone
"I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you damn kids"
– Old man Jones
"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! The Great and Terrible OZ has spoken!"
Nowhere in this post is the whereabouts of God at the time of the incident. Post-hoc rationalisations do nothing to answer where He was when James Eagan Holmes opened fire on a theatre full of innocent movie-goers. If He wasn't there, why not, and if He was there, he chose to do nothing.
The difference between God's alleged invisibility and His non-existence look frighteningly similar.
Nope, god was nowhere, as usual. God does not exist.
True,but if puff pieces like this make believers feel better, what the hell...
Got proof other than "people died"? Humans are not immortal,we all die.The shooter acted upon what he wanted,no one tried to stop him.Not even his own mother who knew something was up.He planned it,HE did not God.The bible says God can't tempt evil upon a person.
Where was God? Didn't one of his guns jam up causing less deaths? God could've been there or just happened by random.But whatever happened,LESS people died.
You atheists do realize this was caused by a human not nature or anything else? It was caused by one human who wanted to kill.How can God take the blame when others leave the action of stopping to someone else?
People care more for what Lady Gaga or some dumb idiot in hollywood than people in Africa or the Middle East.
You atheists leave that out and want to blame God you claim "not" to believe but spend so much time accusing rather than "not believing".
Learn to read and think! We are not blaming god – something that does not exist cannot be blamed!!
Oh but the article is about God,the God of the bible correct?
With atheists commenting first,the proof is in the pudding.
"You atheists leave that out and want to blame God you claim "not" to believe but spend so much time accusing rather than "not believing".
We do not believe that a god or gods exist (not even "God"). Believers, however, do exist. They are the ones we are addressing.
You said, "You atheists do realize this was caused by a human not nature or anything else? It was caused by one human who wanted to kill.How can God take the blame when others leave the action of stopping to someone else?"
Atheists, far more than any religiot, realize that there was no god involved.
You said, "You atheists leave that out and want to blame God you claim "not" to believe but spend so much time accusing rather than "not believing"."
If you think that atheists want to blame "god" you are a few bricks short of a load. Atheists don't believe there is any god involved in anything.
You just made a claim.Funny thing is,you ignore it.YOU don't believe in gods or God but cannot present proof to anyone.Just like with religion,atheism can mislead a person because you have no evidence.
when "not" believing becomes believing,atheism is a religion.
You can categorize atheism any way you like but that will not change the fact that there is not a shred of evidence for any god and your delusional beliefs.
You said, "You just made a claim.Funny thing is,you ignore it.YOU don't believe in gods or God but cannot present proof to anyone.Just like with religion,atheism can mislead a person because you have no evidence."
You just don't get it, do you? I don't believe. there is absolutely no reason to believe that nonsense, it is therefore unreasonable to believe it.
You said, "when "not" believing becomes believing,atheism is a religion."
True, but you'll be hard-pressed to find any atheist on this blog that will claim to know there are no gods.
"God does not exist"-bob
In the first comment,the poster admitted he/she knows there are no gods but put it in the screen name.
2 who already made a claim.You are a fool.
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.