By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) – The disasters are always different and often devastating. But the questions they raise are hauntingly familiar.
In the days since Super Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines on Thursday, survivors are frantically searching for lost family members and international aid groups are springing into action.
Officials say the death toll may rise to 10,000 in the heavily Catholic country. Meanwhile, many people are asking: How should we make sense of such senseless death and destruction? Was God in the whirlwind itself, as the Bible hints, or present only in the aftermath, as people mobilize to provide food, water and shelter?
These questions may not be new, but we keep asking them, perhaps because the answers remain so elusive.
For many Americans, a paradox sits at the heart of their thinking about natural disasters. According to a survey taken after 2011's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, most Americans (56%) believe that God is control of everything.
But more Americans blame hurricanes, earthquakes and other storms on global warming (58%) than on an angry and punishing deity (38%), according to a 2011 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute.
“These kind of questions about God being in control and there simultaneously being suffering are the kind of things that keep seminarians up at night," institute CEO Robert P. Jones said in 2011.
"They’re thorny theological issues."
READ: Typhoon Haiyan: Survivors in Philippines face grim struggle as death toll rises
The Bible's Psalm 107 says that “For (God) commands, and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves thereof. ... He turns rivers into a wilderness, and the water springs into dry ground."
But, as the poll shows, most Americans have moved past the idea that God causes natural disasters, wrote Stephen Prothero, a frequent CNN contributor, in a 2011 column.
"When it comes to earthquakes and hurricanes, our authorities are geologists and meteorologists," Prothero said as he rode out Hurricane Irene on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. "Most of us interpret these events not through the rumblings of the biblical prophet Jeremiah or the poetry of the Book of Revelation but through the scientific truths of air pressure and tectonic plates."
For atheists, storms like Haiyan are proof that God doesn't exist, author and activist Sam Harris said.
"Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil or imaginary," Harris said after Japan's tsunami. "Take your pick, and choose wisely."
God may or may not be in withering storms, but many religious leaders say they sense a divine presence in the aftermath, as people across the world mobilize to lend a hand.
Rabbi Harold Kushner is one of the most famous names in the realm of theodicy, a branch of theology that tries to explain the unexplainable: why a good God would allow bad things to happen.
After Japan's tsunami, Kushner called nature "an equal-opportunity destroyer," making no distinctions between sinners and saints.
But Kushner, author of the bestselling book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," said he sees God's hand in the resilience of people whose lives have been destroyed and in the "goodness and generosity" of strangers who donate and pray for the survivors.
READ: How to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan
That still leaves a tricky question, though: Why do humans suffer, sometimes terribly, in the first place?
There's no good answer, says the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and best-selling author.
"Each person has to come to grips with that," Martin said. "It’s not as if some magic answer can be found. But the idea of God suffering along with us can be very helpful."
Muslims, on the other hand, see stormy trials as tests from God, said Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances.
"Muslims believe that God tests those he loves, and these tragedies also serve as a reminder to the rest of us to remain grateful to God for all our blessings and cognizant that we must support those in need," Syeed said.
Vietnamese Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh, whose native country remains in Haiyan's path, said such storms remind us that our lives are impermanent and the importance of treasuring each moment.
"This is the best that we can do for those who have died: We can live in such a way that they can feel they are continuing to live in us, more mindfully, more profoundly, more beautifully, tasting every minute of life available to us, for them," Hanh said.
Stephen Prothero, Jessica Ravitz and Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.
A speech by Bart Ehrman at Stanford about the story behind who changed the bible and why and the history of the bible and how they got tainted. He is a former Christian bible scholar who studied the bible and found the mistakes and became an agnostic.
This speech is a must see for christians who ask questions like:
Who wrote the gospels?
Is the bible the word of God?
Are there contradictions?
Does the bible contain errors?
Is there evidence or proof?
Bart Ehrman holds a PhD magna cum laude from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bingo – that's it.
Very interesting discussion of several things to include knowledge and consensus.
Published on Nov 5, 2013
07:07 Limits of Science
19:40 God & the Supernatural
31:20 Science & Morality
50:11 Something out of Nothing
1:03:42 The Value of Philosophy
1:20:59 Cognitive Limits
– 1:35:56 Science & Politics
– 1:43:33 The Status of Economics
– 1:48:17 Does Consciousness Exist?
See the bit on transcription errors in the New Testament over the centuries, and how transcribers added/deleted text from the various versions, and how none of them agree.
you know, nature and the universe has its own law and system....
when ppl create wrong religions and faith... ppl will do things that go against the law of universe.
thus creates instability to the system that we live in, and thus bring in calamities and misfortunes...
clearly there is no GOD... ppl's mind is deluded, confused, when ppl's mind is clear and pure, so is the land...
we are doing this to ourselves. period
Death is inevitable, someday everybody is going to die. Nobody knows that "date" and "how" they are going to die. Maybe of natural causes, maybe a tsunami, hurricane, diseases and the like.
The most important question to ask is :
Why is my purpose on planet earth?
Am I showing love to my neighbors?
What happens when I die?
What is the question God will ask of me when I meet Him face to face? Will I be able to answer that question truthfully and honestly?
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
You do realize that its that same bible that you are quoting that turned me and a lot of others to atheism and against the belief in god right?
So quoting it isn't going to convince anyone who doesn't believe.
I'll go along with your first three questions...
But given that the Biblical afterlife myth is but one of many, that last one should be amended.
"What is the question (INSERT AFTERLIFE JUDGE) will ask of me when I meet them face to face?"
It could be St. Christopher, Jesus, Joseph Smith, Ma'at, Odin, Radamanthus, Yama, etc.
Christianity is not the only way. If there's a heaven, and you're fortunate enough to go there, you'll be rubbing elbows with souls that had no knowledge of Jesus Christ while on this earth.
Christianity is not the way to salvation.
Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
Praise his high and holy name!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
What if I'm one of the humans God created with no access to christianity, and thus no knowledge of Christ?
i am positive that with few exceptions none of you have a concept even close to understanding who GOD is and i just want to say i am sorry for that because we have failed.what have we let happen?i wish you could know GOD as i do. i was that kid in church that ask all those tough questions, we created man in OUR image, and such where was cains wife from. you have a mind that GOD gave you you can study anthropology geology, physics thats cool, if this, than that, right? the beauty in this world is discovery.to look acroos the stars at night and wonder how many others are there? will not make GOD mad. there is a beautiful bit in "bruce almighty" wre bruce ask GOD if he "could ask a question" and morgan freeman said "yes, yes you can that is the beauty in it". open your hearts and listen, GOD is there and his heart breaks for you, i am so sorry i am not smart enough to show you GOD i am afraid that will be up to you. i love and pray for you all, not to put you down but to bring you up. you are more than you know.
You think that you know god?
Funny since no one can even tell if there is one, or many, or the thousands of other gods.
But somehow, you know all about him/her/it.
Clearly you are well acquainted with the idea of a god that exists in your own head...nothing more.
Roll the bible quotes.....
i am sorry you were speaking from the heart i am just human too. but since you asked yes i do know GOD and he says hellow by the way he has heard you and he has tried to call but you were busy, i know GOD as much as he will let me know and i crave more, never have i met a mind like GODS before or heart. i wish i could convey this to you but i am only human i pray for wisdom to help those that do not know, i am sorry that i can not help
expected, anything new satan?
Yeah, ignorant response.
Free thinkers and those who don't believe or follow you are agents of satan.
Then you wonder why people are atheists with that kind of nonsense.
Are you actually referring to me as if I was a character from your book?
Talk about bearing false witness.
Repent sinner...I am not satan nor am I affiliated with the character from your book.
satan means antaganist
What the heck is an antaganist?
I know what an antagonist is, but no clue to what an antaganist is. Must be more biblical mumbo jumbo.
SO any antagonist is satan? All I did was question YOUR statement, which could be seen as antagonistic...so you think someone is satan for disagreeing with you or questioning your claim?
until you can show that there is anything like a satan, your claims are flase, and you are bearing flase witness by making any claims tying anyone in with your books character.
Get over yourself.
More "this means that"
i wish you could know GOD as i do
LOL! Yep, you're pretty special. You clearly know more than anyone else. Comedic arrogance.
i understand, no errogance ment there are more than me and more closer to him than me sorry for the misunderstanding nothing but love for the unbeliever here.
nothing but love for the unbeliever here ....and calling them satan
I like humility! Anyone who is humble is worth having a conversation with. People who say they know god on one hand, are probably not high on humility. I like people who say they are trying their best! Nothing more and nothing less!
Every true believer of every one of the thousands of gods ever worshiped by humanity "knew/knows" god. However, not one of them, not even Icabus, can actually provide real evidence that god exists. Special feelings are not now, nor have they ever been, proof of god.
There are many beliefs. Personally I believe that God just lets things happen here on this earth and we have to be prepaired for it. Basically he just lets nature take its course and we as humans need to be ready. We can never be ready for disasters like this, but we can be ready and prepaired in our faith. So when it is your time, it is your time. If your heart is with Jesus, you really dont care. You are going to a better place. Jesus is Lord. When he wants me to come home, he will call... there is nothing i can do about it. So as humans, please get your hearts and sould right... as bad as it may sound, we will all die someday. Either natural causes or accidents. You never know, you will be judged.
No, oh my, no. You are doing the same thing I once did – making up explanations for those things for which your mind is telling you, "this is cruel, how could God do this?" I'm a former Christian – I know.
No, oh no, please don't continue the childish question of How could a good God allow suffering? The best way to summarize this whole idea of why bad things happen to good people is basically this: God cares more about your immortal spiritual soul than about your temporary physical body. Period.
If God cared about our immortal spirit we would not need mortal bodies – think, use your mind. The resurrection stories are for life to be restored to our bodies. Think.
The LORD said to the satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.b He still holds fast to his innocence although you incited me against him to ruin him for nothing.”4 The satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin!* All that a man has he will give for his life.5c But put forth your hand and touch his bone and his flesh. Then surely he will curse you to your face.”6And the LORD said to the satan, “He is in your power; only spare his life.” So the satan went forth from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with severe boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.(Job 2:3-7)
God has a Future for us all, those who survived has a Destiny god planned this From the Beginning.
Have you ever wondered, if you changed the names of the characters in your story above and said that it was an ancient Roman belief, that you would reject that? What does that tell you?
Isn't Job an uplifting story?
God, who is love, is more than willing to destroy the life of His most devout follower just so He can win a bet.
But He's always had a funny notion of "righteousness". Lot was said to me a most Godly man thanks to his willingness to toss his virgin daughters over to a ravenous mob of rapists. You'd think Lot's wife would be a pretty good person too, but she was transformed into a condiment for the heinous, heretical crime of looking over her shoulder to see the horrible devastation God was wreaking.
But God protects His followers even from the terror of being made fun of by little boys. To me, sending bears to maul them to death seems like excessive punishment for calling someone baldy – but that's God's love for you.
Where is the compassion for Job's children? They were slaughtered because god wanted to play a game with satan. Your god is no better than a thug. Do you really think a bully like that, even if it does exist, is worth worshiping?
God is in every heart.
That explains why atheists have no God.
As a former Christian, I know that's what you believe, but it's honestly just not true. But, thankfully, our human kindness is there.
As a Christian since birth I believe it's true. And you're unbelief no matter how honest you were, doesn't make it "not true".
You were an atheist at birth...did not have any conecpt of god.
You were then indoctrinated into christianity at some later point.
It is impossible to be religious from birth.
If you mean you were a Christian since birth because you were baptized, that does not make one a Christian, and we both know that. Christianity is a state of mind.
No offense to you personally and there is no way I can know another person’s heart, but if I understand what the bible teaches, I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “former Christian.” The bible says you can believe and lose faith, but if you have been saved by the grace of God, it is irrevocable. There is a difference between believing in God and being saved. The good news is that you can be saved. Peace.
Once you realize the whole thing was made up, and the threat you are being "saved" from is a threat that god made, you realize that your god is just like a school yard bully. He doesn't want to make you punch yourself in the face, but you won't obey him and give up your lunch money.
Remove the bible and all of its flaws, and guess what, the threat disappears, and you no longer need to be saved from your gods threat, by your god...odd you need to be saved from your god by your god.
Robert Brown, None taken, but I have seen the take you offer on this from other Christians, namely, if you are not a Christian now, you never were. But indeed, I have been saved, and I am no longer fearful of those things that control you and other Christians, no offense intended as well, just putting it out there.
Richard & Youtube,
God wanted me to tell you that he still loves you both. He is patiently waiting for you to come to him on his terms. God is good, his mercy endures forever.
That;'s hilarious Robert...in all the years(decades really) I reached out to god, and never once did I see anything remotely godlike...but he sends a message through you? Once again, that makes no sense.
Did god text you, Bob? Do you have his private number so that you can call him, night or day? Or are you just another arrogant christian pretending that you speak for your god?
God is imaginary. MYTHOLOGY. wow....
Oh oh oh yeah yeah, finally an expert on mythology. What do those made up gods say about the typhoon???
Humanity, circa 2013 CE: "OK, what's the fracking deal with all the typhoons and SARS?"
"God," circa 60,000,000,2013 CE: "The prime directive, of course. Sorry about that, Dad."
Only for the newbies:
One answer to the "Where Was God" question:
From a famous contemporary theologian, Father Edward Schilebeckx:
From his book, Church: The Human Story of God,
Crossroad, 1993, p.91 (softcover)
"Christians must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman doctrine of predestination without in so doing making God the great scapegoat of history" .
"Nothing is determined in advance: in nature there is chance and determinism; in the world of human activity there is possibility of free choices.
Therefore the historical future is not known even to God; otherwise we and our history would be merely a puppet show in which God holds the strings. For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women."
I would stay far away from this kind of teaching. When you examine scripture in it's entirety you see that %70-%80 of the Bible is prophecy. All through out the BIBLE God continues to tell them what events where to befall and later on he does so through the prophets.
God is on his OWN timeline not mans. He created "matter, time, and space" our realm of reality (Gen 1:1) which means he lives outside of that reality and he can see what we call the past, the present, and the future at the same time...He is OUTSIDE of creation...THAT IS WHY HE IS GOD. That's why scripture says he is the ETERNAL ONE who inhabits enternity.
I'm sorry but Father Edward Schilebeck is just completely wrong on this...This teaching makes God to be a mere human.
Only God CAN know the future....thats why he is GOD....and thats what he continued to do in the BIBLE....predict the future...because HE IS SOVEREIN and is involved in the affairs of mere men.
Ecclestaties 3:11 (15)
"He made everything appropiate in its time. He also placed eternity within them yet, no person can fully comprehend what God is doing from beginning to end.....That which was, now is; and that which will be, ALREADY IS; and God examines what has already taken place."
"....for I am GOD, and there is none else; I am GOD and there is NONE like me, declaring the END from the BEGINNING, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."
I dont believe in god, the bible or jesus. All a bunch of nonsense.
It always amazes me the illogical hoops people will jump through to justify their belief from a book that is clearly flawed.
If I just keep telling myself it is real, that will make it real.
Your book is nothing but fiction...there never was a global flood, you can't find infidelity with holy water and dust, and you can't make striped goats by having them stare at striped objects.
Funny isnt it?
Quoting passages from a book that I don't believe in, isn't going to change my mind and make me believe.
What they don't realize is that, its that very same book that they are quoting from is what turned people to atheism in the first place.
Prophets or fortune tellers? Fortune tellers then and now and such a waste of time !!
"Free" choices still follow the laws of physics.
For a better understanding where God was during the Typhoon in the Philippines and the above mentioned article we invite you to read the article 'Natural Disasters ~ Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Typhoons, Famines, Floods, Droughts, Wildfires and Pestilences, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
All the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9. It also explains what mankind must do to be reunited with the true and living God.
Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).
Good to see you being consistent, Andy. Still clueless, and still stealing advertising.
@ Midwest rail
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).
Justify your thievery any way you wish, Andy. It remains thievery.
Send Hate mail to:
Andy van den Berg
29 Silver Birch Drive
Hubley NS, B3Z 1A9 Canada
Delusional hubris. You aren't the kind of person to engender that strong an emotion, Andy. Bemused disgust, yes. Hatred ? No.
I'm railing in midwest.
Nice try, lol??, but wrong again.
midwest rail has always been.
" midwest rail has always been. "
Nope, finite just like you.
midwest's rail to hell.
Lend a helping hand and God is with you.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
I’m the dodging, hiding god
I keep the simple Christian awed
In a typhoon or a storm
My miracles keep the injured warm
I’m the one who saved church’s cross
Where 40 died in wet chaos
“But what of them,” I hear you cry
“Mysterious way” is my reply
Thousands prayed, I saved the lot
Thousands died, prayers or not
“Then why pray,” I hear you ask
“Mysterious way,” my divine task
You never see my hand or face
But still believe in divine grace
“But why not doubt,” you may implore
“Mysterious ways,” are quite the chore
Just close your mind and do not think
To doubt’s a sin, like se.x and drink
The Bible is my solemn word
No matter what else you’ve heard
If I find you thinking your own thought
My hot red anger you’ll have wrought
I’ll burn you till the end of time
Because my love for you is so sublime
So, what kind of a man wrote that ditty??
God wrote it. See, he signed it.
Such blasphemous words!
Well you must now atone.
Just call up God now on this prayermaphone
Tell him you're sorry! With sin you are done
And you're happy to offer the life of your son
Sometimes God asks of you crazetompulous things
Like whipping your back with a whip that has rings
But as my old preacher each Sunday would say
As the ti/thing-o-grabber came over my way
"Don't question the Lord, boy! Just shut up and pay."
Boxer Day Tsunami. Two hundred thirty thousand people gone.
Not forgotten. They have an appointment with the Judge, the body of Christ.
Religion is due to brain damage and mental illness. It's an irrational belief in a fairy tale book (bible, quran, whatever) written long ago, translated & twisted into whatever Man wants it to say. Prayer is a waste of time that does nothing.
I see that you got your mental ability along with your central nervous system under serious impairment too
I'll admit he didn't state it very tastefully, which is a problem with many of the atheists here, but there is truth in his words. The Old Testament is a collection of stories showing that God is vengeful, destructive, and something we should fear. Then there's the New Testament where God has suddenly become wiser about all the things of the Old Testament. The problem with the New Testament is that it has been revised many times, where the transcribers have at times place their own interpretations into the Gospels.
So what kind of a Christian were you??
I'm the kind of former Christian that decided to place the religious fear tactics aside and practice the kindness that is in each of us. I find that I'm much happier and healthier now that I see the world, religion, and people for all they they truly are, instead of what they have been distorted to be.
You real think something a characteristic of the majority of humans and which predicts happiness is most cultures until recently is well classed as a 'mental illness"? I would be interested to know what psychological organization's definistion of mental illness you're using?
I'm 68 now and I have never seen an act of god. Not a good one nor a bad one. Every act of evil, every act of kindness was at the hand of a man or a woman. This all powerful being that hides in the background, sends his only beggotten son to spread the word and then ... nothing for 2000 years! Some plan from an all seeing being!
It's about time this nonsense stopped and we accepted that we are just animals like all the rest, and we can expect no special rights, no help from an almighty benefactor.
Why should we? We wouldn't deserve such advantages anyway.
You don't see the pale horse??
I love God
You are in an abusive relationship. Seek counseling.
God is fiction, a man made tool
@doctore0 according to your claim you are a fiction too, you should not be real
Ohh so I am not real because your super mega magic man in the sky is not.. that is deep.. NOT .:)
There are millions of Filipinos now thanking "god" for sparing them in the wake of the typhoon. But, did they also remember to blame their god for sending it to them in the first place?
As a former Christian, I can answer that. No, because that's part of the test of "faith." God is testing you, but you should not test God, and God has that right because God created you, but there is an eternal reward for those who go along. I have heard it said (in conversation) that some Jewish people refused to believe after the Holocaust, saying that a benevolent being would never allow that to happen, and it really is that simple. We are routinely more caring, giving, and know others who are the same; thus making us superior to God, but how can that be? It can only be if God does not exist, and that's a logical/moral argument, completely separate from the complete lack of any physical proof of God or the vast scientific evidence explaining us, the wold, and the universe. We don't have all the answers, but we have many answers for things that were previously attributed to a supernatural being.
Ahhhh, the siren song of the "Wegodians".
It's too easy for theists to rationalize their way around these kinds of things. They've been doing it for thousands of years. It's a dumb question, because God beliefs have no parameters.
"This needed to happen in order to pave the way for the end times which are nigh! Praise God!" Too easy.
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.