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Smiling for 'Auschwitz selfies,' and crying into the digital wilderness
This tweet from Breanna Mitchell sparked a fierce debate over selfies and sacred spaces.
July 22nd, 2014
08:53 AM ET

Smiling for 'Auschwitz selfies,' and crying into the digital wilderness

Opinion by Craig Detweiler, Special to CNN

(CNN) – It is understandable why Breanna Mitchell’s sunny tweet from Auschwitz as “PrincessBMM” would spark a viral outcry.

A tour of a concentration camp, where so many Jews lost their lives, may move us to take photos or post responses but few would include smiles, or selfies.

But Mitchell is not the first teenager to generate Internet outrage by her response to the Holocaust.

When Justin Bieber visited the Anne Frank House last year, he wrote in the museum guest book, “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully, she would have been a Belieber.”

While many have ripped into Mitchell and Bieber for their insensitivity, I don’t think they intended to be disrespectful to the dead.

Thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices (mobiquity!), adolescent mistakes and hard lessons that used to be learned in private can quickly devolve into public drubbings.

This is what happens when new technologies clash with ancient understandings of the sacred. The problem is so pervasive that a Tumblr site, “Selfies at Serious Places” is dedicated to such faux pas.

We have very few spaces that our culture considers sacred, where an association with the divine results in a feeling of awe or reverence. Death may seem especially abstract to young people who haven’t been shown how to grieve, mourn or respect the dead.

So how might we help the emerging generation to develop a digital decorum that accounts for sacred spaces? Can we incorporate electronic ethics into religious instruction?

This summer, I have been teaching students at Pepperdine University’s London campus, which has given my family remarkable opportunities to see the places that define European history. Traveling with my 12- and 14-year-old children has raised questions about what is appropriate and where.

While some churches such as Westminster Abbey prohibit photography, others such as the Salisbury Cathedral allow all kinds of cameras. Our eyes, ears and spirits were far more sensitized in Westminster Abbey, where we were freed from “getting the shot.”

Once an hour, an announcement at the abbey invites visitors to pause, wherever they are, for a moment of respectful silence and prayer. How rare and appropriate to see a church encouraging us to pause en masse for sacred activity rather than mere digital documentation of our visit.

The selfie could provide a sacred pausing if it didn’t involve so much posing.

It is one way to record a moment, to fix an experience as a reminder, “I was here.” It can be a lovely way to communicate to friends and family, “Wish you were here.”

But it also involves a level of performance that often pulls us out of the place itself. And a selfie can veer toward the humblebrag, advertising our summer vacation to friends.

The temptation with social media is to turn our friends into an audience. We cast ourselves as the star and think about how to entertain our followers. Tours of revered spaces become an opportunity to post a photo.

Should we travel to Amsterdam or Auschwitz to acquire content, to have something to share on social media?

We may sink into the spiral described by poet T.S. Eliot, “We had the experience, but missed the meaning.” Our digital devices create a conundrum: how to be fully present in the moment we are also trying to broadcast?

This summer, the line to tour the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam snaked down the block and around the church next door. So many students have read her poignant “Diary of a Young Girl” for school assignments.

Yet John Green’s best-selling, young adult novel, "The Fault in Our Stars," also awakened interest in Frank. In the novel, two teens, battling cancer, climb the stairs to Anne’s attic hideaway, where they experience their first kiss.

Older and established film critics questioned the appropriateness of the scene, but the target audience of adolescents found it powerful and inspiring. Where critics saw blasphemy and disrespect, teens edged toward the transcendent.

As Green writes in “The Fault in Our Stars,” “You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice.”

When our family toured the house, no photos were allowed. The crowd was remarkably respectful. People of all ages climbed past the bookcase that covered the back half of the house and concealed the Frank family.

While I paused with my kids to take in the reality of the books still on the shelf, a woman in her 40s pulled out her phone and snapped an illicit photo. No personnel saw it. No one chided her actions. Perhaps she shared it on Facebook in a respectful way.

The wisdom in Ecclesiastes declares that there is “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Yet we may not weep or laugh or photograph the same things at the same time.

We found even more incongruous responses to the Holocaust in Berlin.

Architects Peter Eisenman and Daniel Libeskind navigated considerable controversies while crafting moving Holocaust memorials. They respected the concerns of families and survivors while making history relevant for generations to come.

But they cannot control the public’s response.

While my family walked reverently through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, others were playing hide-and-seek and jumping across the tomb-like steles.

At the Jewish Museum, we were haunted by the Holocaust Tower. When the door closed behind us with a thunderous boom, the huge, oppressive walls and darkness bore down upon us. Yet we also watched countless school groups cruise in, take a quick pic and hop out.

Should we be encouraged that so many young people were touring the museum?

Parents and educators are challenged to communicate the gravity of the Holocaust to the next generation. In “Night,” Elie Wiesel reminded us why we must continue to teach and speak and visit horrific places like Auschwitz, “For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences.”

Still, we cannot control what Justin Bieber or Breanna Mitchell post.

Where most of us saw disrespect in Mitchell’s smile, she claimed it was a moment of bonding with her deceased father. Their shared experience of studying about Auschwitz found fruition in her visit. Her selfie and smile was a positive form of grieving and an affront to others.

Perhaps the wisdom of Viktor Frankl can help us navigate a world where privacy has nearly collapsed and everything is open to self-promotion.

In “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Frankl noted: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

We must continue to provide sacred spaces and opportunities for us all to pause, to turn off our devices long enough to experience the divine. But that space must also be open to indifference, to blasphemy, to selfies.

For even in its intense inward focus, the selfie posted on social media is also a cry into the void: “Is anybody there? Does anybody care?”

May Bieber and Mitchell hear an affirming whisper rather than merely a massive outrage.

Craig Detweiler is a professor of communication at Pepperdine University and the author of "iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual and Social Lives." The views expressed in this column belong to Detweiler. 

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Death • Ethics • Europe • History • Holocaust • Internet • Media • Opinion • Sacred Spaces • Spirituality • Traditions • Trends

soundoff (705 Responses)
  1. irishmanknowsall

    B.S.

    August 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
  2. jccopepolarbear1942

    Is anyone above in comment aware that a travel agency charges upward of $205.60 to visit Auschwitz? If it is so sacred a place, why do they not treat it like Westminster Abbey and not allow any photographs? Wake up and smell the marketing. If the Jews are so concerned about the systematic removal of millions of their faith why are they in the process of trying to decimate Gaza? This girl could have had her smiling picture taken at Alcatraz. Would the family of Al Capone filed a complaint about the place where "scarface" spent some of his last days? Get real on this people, this is a new age and one that breaks down BS barriers. How much does it cost to go to Calvary, where Jesus was crucified? Can a selfie be taken there? How much to the sacrosanct places of the world where people were slaughtered? Take Custer's last stand along the Little Big Horn and countless others. When will Americans wake up and quit condemning people for being themselves?

    August 3, 2014 at 8:55 am |
    • igaftr

      ". When will Americans wake up and quit condemning people for being themselves?"

      So you are condemning Americans for being themselves....
      Perhaps you will think next time before you post.

      August 3, 2014 at 9:36 am |
  3. monica7c

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU9MbXueRFg&w=640&h=390]

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU9MbXueRFg

    August 1, 2014 at 7:33 am |
  4. wujawa

    Come in. The girl was on the trip. She thought of her father. She smiled. Big deal? Leave her alone. The massacre was very sad and dehumanized but it also happened five decades ago. The most disrespectful thing is to keep bringing it up like it just happened a week ago rather than to point finger to a girl who have nothing to do with it. Just let the massacre victims rest in peace.

    July 27, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
    • G to the T

      " The most disrespectful thing is to keep bringing it up like it just happened a week ago rather than to point finger to a girl who have nothing to do with it."

      Wow you are so wrong on so many fronts I don't know where to start. Auschwitz is reminder of how easy it is to dehumanize others. It is a place that highlights all that is base (and noble – in the stories of survivors) about us as a species. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Taking a picture is one thing – posting that picture for the world to see is another and putting a friggin' emoticon on her post is yet another thing altogether.

      August 3, 2014 at 10:08 am |
  5. portlandtony

    Without the photo's caption, almost no one would know or care where this selfie was taken. Before the advent of social media and digital cameras, I'll bet millions of photos of Auschwitz have been taken by and of tourists and others smiling, frowning or doing things that appear irreverent. None out of disrespect. After all, any tourist's photo just says "I was here"!

    July 26, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
  6. Keith

    Smiling for your picture no matter where you are in not a sign of disrespect, it is the sign of a happy, healthy person.

    July 26, 2014 at 12:31 am |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Keith,

      Not all the time.

      Remeber the photos of our military personel taken with dead combatants or enemies. Is that appropriate? Or pictures of talibans taken beside dead americans.

      All have smiles except the deceased and their family.

      July 26, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
      • Keith

        There is no honor in any war, and that is not what this article is about. Smiling at Auschwitz is no different than smiling at Flanders.

        If you want to discuss those other kinds of pictures I suppose there is a forum for that, but it isn't here. If the world was shown the realities of war people wouldn't support it. I would support more real pictures of war.

        July 27, 2014 at 12:16 am |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          What us the difference?

          Discussion was respecting the dead. In war or otherwise. What other forum than this one to best discuss the subject matter.

          July 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
        • Keith

          Tell me why smiling is a sign of disrespect.

          July 27, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          *is

          Unless you have double standards.

          July 27, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Keith

          double standards about what? Dead people are dead no matter which side of the battle they were on. God cares no more for one than the other.

          July 27, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          What im hearing it is ok at time of war coz there is no honor un war.

          Ridiculous.

          July 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • Keith

          I am saying that war is not a condition of humanity. You have to lose your humanity to survive, it is never okay but if the powerful of the world insists on sending us to our deaths they shouldn't be surprised if we act like animals. I brought back pictures from Vietnam that I finally threw away about 20 years ago. No one that has ever been in war can claim honor in the deaths of their fellow human beings. There is no honor in war. If you really are a teenager please learn to use proper English if you are not, quite texting like you are one.

          July 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Now we have the English police. Argue the message not the messenger.

          Revisit your reply and see how incosistent your reply were.

          July 28, 2014 at 10:17 am |
        • Keith

          I am not going to do that, if you can't have a conversation then by all means don't, if you have something to say then do it, but me trying to figure out what the hell you are talking about by reviewing my comments is not going to happen.

          July 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Keith,

          I am trying but your reply does not allow me to.

          Your post suggest all selfys are innocent, and my reply was not all the time. The example i presented seems to support that. If it does not then we could just agree to disagree.

          July 28, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
        • Keith

          I received your reply just fine the way you did it.

          Okay, it seems convoluted to me, but I went back and read your statement that I replied to. So, perhaps I do not respect the dead. I don't think that selfies at Auschwitz have anything to do with the pictures we took of each other in Vietnam with out feet on the enemies heads. I don't see what one has to do with the other. If you do then you are correct that we will have to agree to disagree.

          I wanted to know who I was talking to, I was not being the English police. I don't talk shorthand, I don't write shorthand. The folks I know that do that are my daughters age or younger. If you were that young I doubt you had enough life experience to understand what I was trying to say.

          So, once again, those pictures of the horrors of war have nothing to do with smiling selfies at Auschwitz or at the Twin Towers in America. They are not even remotely the same.

          July 28, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
    • observer

      Keith,

      Would it be the sign of a "HAPPY" person to be smiling on 9/11 in front of the World Trade Center ruins in New York?

      July 28, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Observe,

        A good example.

        All boils down to intent.

        July 28, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
      • Keith

        yes it would, there is no need to act somber. The dead don't care. If I were to choose to go someplace like that is would be to see where it happened and experience the place. I don't think that would keep me from smiling.

        July 28, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
        • observer

          Keith

          "there is no need to act somber. The dead don't care"

          Yes, but the SURVIVORS and their families and relatives do. So much for EMPATHY and RESPECT. New concepts to you?

          July 29, 2014 at 2:03 am |
        • Keith

          I have empathy, compassion, and I understand the war dead in a way that only a person that has served in a war can. I am a survivor and it will not bother me at all if you smile in your picture at the Vietnam war memorial. Respect is something that is earned, dying in a war does not make you special, it just makes you dead. We should be offended by war, not be a few young people that are happy when they visit the memorials.

          My war experience affects my life every day, and America is still sending our young men and women to die in countries that do not even know why we are there. I know that we are not there to spread Freedom and Democracy, a cursory look at history will tell you that. Idolizing war or those that were sacrificed for the dreams of evil men, accomplishes nothing.

          July 29, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
  7. dandintac

    People need to stop piling on this young lady. She's a teenager on vacation in Europe!!! Many people can be found smiling in pictures in places where others have died–memorials, battlefields, many other historical sites. People are making sweeping judgments about this young lady from a single picture. This picture does not show her entire demeanor through the entire trip. People rarely take "selfies" when they are listening solemnly or crying.

    I'll bet she never dreamed she'd get her 15 minutes of fame in this manner.

    At a time when far more egregious crimes are being committed, such as shooting down airliners, people have to ignore that–if even for a moment–so that they can pile hate on a young lady who took a picture of herself smiling while on vacation!

    July 25, 2014 at 11:33 pm |
  8. Peaceadvocate2014

    Its all about intent of the selfy.

    Seems inappropriate but i really dont know whats in her mind when she took the selfy.

    Does she hate jews? Or she happy to be there?

    July 25, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
    • Alias

      Or was the smile directed at the camera and it had nothing to do with anything else?

      July 25, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
  9. rogerthat2014

    Rudolph Hoss, the commandant of Auschwitz 4 May 1940 – 1 Dec 1943, oversaw the murder of 3 million people. Before he was executed he said, "May the Lord God forgive one day what I have done."

    It is reported also, that a few days before his execution Höss returned to the Catholic Church. On April 10, 1947, he received the sacrament of penance from Fr. Władysław Lohn, S.J., provincial of the Polish Province of the Society of Jesus. On the next day the same priest administered to him Holy Communion as Viatic um.

    According to the Christian faith, Hoss will be on a cloud singing Kumbaya along with last minute murdering converts, while his victims will be tortured once again. This time the torture will be for an eternity. Isn't Christianity wonderful?

    July 24, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
    • Salero21

      According to the Christian faith, Hoss will be on a cloud singing Kumbaya along with last minute murdering converts, while his victims will be tortured once again. This time the torture will be for an eternity. Isn't Christianity wonderful?←↑
      ↑↑↑
      Boy that's as stupid as it gets! Where did you get all your garbage? I meant, all of that about singing Kumbaya on a cloud, with last minute murdering converts? Or that his victims will be tortured again And about those roman-catholic rites being a way of Salvation? That's NOT in Scripture neither are teachings according to the christian Faith. See you're what I've been saying all along. An Extreme Hypocrite and a Compulsive Pathological LIAR. Just like Hess. It could be funny if it wasn't such a phony, that atheists ALWAYS end up aligning themselves with or along the lines of the roman "church". Which again is one more piece of Evidence that atheism/evolutionism/idolatry are all Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE.

      Though is True that Christ said that all sins can be forgiven to men. One SIN however WILL NOT be forgiven and that is exactly what you may be doing, BLASPHEMY against the Spirit of God. By pointing out how bad and a terrible Sinner Hess was, you may think or feel a little bit better about yourself. However you will not be judged by God by comparing you against Hess, but on whether or NOT you believed in and about the Christ the Son of God.

      July 24, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
      • rogerthat2014

        You're right it is total nonsense. Don't get bent out of shape, I didn't write the Bible or force you to believe it.

        July 24, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
      • Keith

        It is indeed nonsense, that was the point of his post. The whole thing god, jesus, religion, all of it is nonsense.

        July 26, 2014 at 12:25 am |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Roger,

      Hoss may or may not have been accepted by God. Asking for forgiveness and admiting to the atrocity are steps in the right direction. I think God would evaluate his sincerity.

      July 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
      • Alias

        So if you are really sorry you killed million sof innocent people you get te same reward as someone who devoted their entire life to your god?

        July 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          See my reply to Santa.

          Means even uf we are sinners there is hope. We just have to take appropriate steps.

          July 25, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        There's a huge difference between, say, an accident where one ran over and killed a pedestrian when texting while driving and a well-planned and well-executed genocide over many years. I don't see how any god could forgive the latter.

        July 25, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Santa,

          That is the God i believe in. A forgiving God for those who were lost and now found. If he truely is found.

          Even for mortal sins.

          Refer to JC story if the prodigal son. Father said pls try to understand.

          July 25, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          There is no comparison between the gravity of the prodigal son and the holocaust. I'm all for redemption but it has to be earned and the holocaust is too despicable (especially the architects and managers).

          July 25, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Santa,

          I agree...this is the sacrifice Gpd is teachning. Its hard to do i said.

          Why a techning? Violence begets violence.

          July 25, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
        • Keith

          I don't either but that is what the Bible says

          July 26, 2014 at 12:26 am |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          *teaching
          *was found

          Forgiveness, apologies are all good but do we really mean it. Our actions i think would determine that unless our life is ended by another who perpetuate hate. How then if someone takes away anybodys chance of redemption prove their acceptability to God. I am not sure but i believe God have a way.

          July 26, 2014 at 11:46 am |
      • rogerthat2014

        So you're saying that Rudolph at least has a chance. Unlike the person that happens to be born Hindu, Jewish, or any other religion. They don't believe in Jesus and get a trip to eternal hell.

        July 25, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Roger,

          No. A non-believer may have a better chance being accepted than a believer like me. You may unknowingly have been following the teachings of God while i dont. Its hard but we try.

          July 25, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          The belief in Jesus meant the teachings of God.

          July 25, 2014 at 11:36 pm |
      • Doris

        PA: "Hoss may or may not have been accepted by God."

        I may not believe in heaven, but from what I saw, if there was a heaven, I'm pretty darn sure Hoss is there. He wasn't as cute as Little Joe, but he still seemed to have a kind heart. Don't get me started now...

        July 25, 2014 at 9:39 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Dont judge a book by its cover. Really dont know. Its not what it seem to us but what a perfect judge would adjudicate.

          July 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
    • dandintac

      I thought Hess hanged himself in Spandau prison at an old age? Or maybe I'm thinking of some other Nazi?

      Anyway, yes, Roger, if one believes in the doctrine of Grace, Hess is in Heaven right now, and the Jews who he helped kill but never accepted Jesus as their savior, they are all in Hell right now, for all eternity.

      Grace holds that ONLY through Jesus Christ can one be saved, and all sins can be forgiven, but without Christ's redemption, we are all hopelessly doomed, no matter what good we do on Earth, because "we are ALL sinners".

      Pretty revolting philosophy–isn't it–when you start applying it to the real world.

      July 25, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Dandi,

        We really dont know what Hoss or the victimized Jews beliefs were at the time of their passing.

        Only what we see or heard or perception, not the entirety of their beliefs. Let a perfect judge or God (if you believe) adjudicate.

        July 26, 2014 at 11:23 am |
        • dandintac

          It is certainly true that we don't know what is in a man's heart at the moment of his death. That does not change the central point regarding the Doctrine of Grace. The point still stands.

          Regarding the notion of a "perfect God" judging–well, you may believe such exists, I do not. We cannot know for certain though. It's quite probable that if there is to be goodness and justice in this world, we will have to create these ourselves–rathern than expecting a God who may or may not exist to come along and do that heavy lifting for us.

          July 26, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Yes we do.....we have to..... For justice..... And hope we are right.

          July 26, 2014 at 8:21 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Not hate or revenge.

          July 26, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
  10. Salero21

    Whaaat!! My comment from yesterday is still on top of the page! I just can't believe it, amazing. CNN must be convince finally of the Total, Complete and Absolute NONSENSE of atheism/evolutionism/idolatry. And of the Pathological and Compulsive Lying of atheists/evolutionists/idolater. OMG The End is near!

    July 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      ― Stephen Roberts

      OOPS, it appears you speak of yourself when you spew your hatred...you're also one of us :<b-)

      July 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • iheartroger

        For crying out loud. Why don't you two get a room. So off topic.

        July 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Oh wow! Once again you jump in without comprehending the history! I understand you're new here but Salero I always off topic and that is all that was being pointed out...perhaps you'd like to get a room at the local asylum with Sally!

          July 24, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          "but Salero I" should read "but Salero is"

          July 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      I agree. I rather see a debate about capital punishment and means.

      July 25, 2014 at 8:47 pm |
  11. Salero21

    NOT a big deal, not of any major importance for the Faith of the Godly and the believer in Christ Jesus. The girl made a mistake or she is uneducated, lacks refinement, her parents didn't advice her, she don't listen to her parents, don't have manners or whatever else. It can happen to best.

    The main issue in the Belief Blog is that atheism is Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE

    Just REMEMBER that and you'll be doing good for yourself.

    July 23, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
    • rogerthat2014

      Auschwitz is all the evidence you need that there is no God.

      July 23, 2014 at 9:03 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        On atheism, why was Hitler wrong in his thinking?

        July 23, 2014 at 10:23 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          On Christianity, Hitler wasn't wrong if god told him to.

          July 24, 2014 at 1:44 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          tf: There is nothing 'on atheism', atheism (once again) points to a singular thing-the disbelief in god....It speaks to nothing more. Why haven't you enrolled in school yet? Please do and encourage your boyfriend Awanderingscot to join you...both of you need it before you become even more of a hindrance to our world!

          July 24, 2014 at 5:01 am |
        • dandintac

          Obviously because he harmed and killed a lot of people. Do you really need to ask this???? It's not rocket science. Harming and killing people IS what morally bad means.

          On the other hand, what if God told Hitler to do what he did–and who are you to say he did not? After all, God has ordered genocide before. If God told Hitler to do this, then what Hitler did would be morally good under Divine Command Theory.

          July 27, 2014 at 12:52 am |
      • awanderingscot

        why would the evil acts of men necessarily prove the non-existence of God? just how are the acts of evil men a reflection on God?

        July 23, 2014 at 10:28 pm |
        • rogerthat2014

          Okay I'll rephrase it for the believers out there. It means that there is no god that gives a rat's ass about what happens to humans, the god is powerless, or the god is evil. Take your pick, but based on the Bible, I have to go with option 3.

          July 24, 2014 at 1:35 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Tot: Your god is evil!

          July 24, 2014 at 4:58 am |
        • evolveddna

          scotty..your god cannot and has never assisted a human..can you cite any proven physical case where god saved a human.. and why would he be selective.. where was he last week?

          July 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm |
        • dandintac

          Scot,

          If you knew jews were about to be killed in a concentration camp during the war, would you not feel morally obligated to stop it if you could? Oskar Schindler didn't kill any Jews in the camps, he tried to save them. And no one is claiming that Schindler was morally perfect. Yet people DO claim that God is morally perfect, but clearly he didn't stop the Holocaust. And clearly, being all-powerful, he certainly could have. Therefore an all-powerful, perfectly moral god does not exist.

          July 27, 2014 at 12:56 am |
      • awanderingscot

        There is no evolution, cells and dna prove it.

        Following the elucidation of the structure and function of DNA during the 1950s and early 1960s, a radically new conception of life began to emerge. Not only did molecular biologists discover that DNA carried information; they soon began to suspect that living organisms must contain systems for processing genetic information. Just as the digital information stored on a disc is useless without a device for reading the disc, so too is the information on DNA useless without the cell’s information-processing system. As Richard Lewontin notes, “No living molecule (i.e., biomolecule) is self-producing. Only whole cells may contain all the necessary machinery for self-reproduction... Not only is DNA incapable of making copies of itself, aided or unaided, but it is incapable of ‘making’ anything else... The proteins of the cell are made from other proteins, and without that protein-forming machinery nothing can be made.” – Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell

        Evolution remains theory only. It is not a hard science like physics and is more ideological (materialism). As the real sciences develop over time, evolution with it's extremely hard to believe randomness will be relegated to the dustbin of history.

        July 24, 2014 at 10:34 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Referencing fake 'scientists' and even fake pseudoscience only proves that you are dim-witted...

          July 24, 2014 at 10:50 am |
        • crittermomagain

          I may regret even entering this, but ... it looks like that quote of his is simply saying that a bowlful of DNA can't replicate itself without being part of a living cell and having new material to work with. Well, duh.

          July 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
      • Salero21

        The end of Auschwitz and Hitler the almost complete annihilation of communism, socialism, fascism, and other atheistic ideologies, is just one small piece of Evidence of God's pending Judgement.

        The Extreme Hypocrisy and Compulsive Pathological Lying of atheists/evolutionists are just one small piece of Evidence of the Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE of atheism/evolutionism/idolatry.

        The ENORMITY of Creation is the Grand Evidence of the Creator God. Who is also the God and Father of Our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.

        July 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • evolveddna

          solaris..why so many names for the ego eccentric god of your imagination.. I mean.."of the Creator God. Who is also the God and Father of Our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, the Son of God." he must have a crazy business card when visiting other planets.. Can just imagine him arguing ..no I really am , honestly Jesus is my boy and also me and.. I could prove it... oh.. forget that..

          July 24, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
    • skytag

      The godly who are quick to judge those about whom they know nothing. Too funny.

      July 23, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
      • awanderingscot

        just curious, how are you able to construe his comment as a judgment?

        July 23, 2014 at 10:24 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Now we know that you're not capable of reading it for what it is, so here-all of this is Sally judging:
          " The girl made a mistake or she is uneducated, lacks refinement, her parents didn't advice her, she don't listen to her parents, don't have manners or whatever else. It can happen to best.
          The main issue in the Belief Blog is that atheism is Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE"

          We're sorry you haven't been taught yet what judging is but you best learn before you attempt to live on your own.

          July 24, 2014 at 4:57 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Daniel Burke: You banned thefinisher, could you please ban Salero also? It seems they are the same person.

      July 24, 2014 at 5:03 am |
      • Salero21

        Me and the finisher the same! You must think of yourself as a genius, I don't even know who the finisher is. Aren't you the one who tried to steal my nick way back? You hypocrite and Compulsive lying atheist. Both CNN and WordPress can figure that out by themselves without your help. So do yourself a favor by not letting your ignorant rants shine all over the WWW. See... this is why I must keep reminding atheist that atheism/evolutionism/idolatry/fascism/nationalism/antisemitism/communism et al etc. etc. are ALL Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE.

        July 24, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          You and thefinisher have the same writing style.
          I could never possibly be as hateful as you, so you're wrong about me stealing your alias.
          You've proven my point to Daniel by spewing the same old rhetorical hate.

          July 25, 2014 at 4:42 am |
  12. Peaceadvocate2014

    The selfy with a smile seems inappropriate, like going to a funeral and you are all smiles because of people you have not seen in a long time and not cosidering other people are grieving or still grieving. Selfy with a smile may shows joy of being at a place talked or written about in our history or a more awful reason. We should not be so quick to condemn others but advise folks to be more considerate no matter whose grave the individual is making selfy of.

    July 23, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
    • skytag

      She's smiling because she's thrilled to finally get to visit a place she's studied for years. She became interested in Auschwitz in 9th grade when her school set up a webcam conference with a survivor from Auschwitz. She and her father researched it over the years. In 10th grade she decided she wanted to visit Poland for her high school graduation trip because of what she'd learned about what had happened their under the Nazis.

      Her father would have been there with her, but he passed away exactly one year to the day before the day she took that picture. I really like that picture. It's a picture of a young girl who is sharing the excitement she feels at accomplishing one of first goals in life. It's a picture of a cute 18-year-old girl who could have been taking selfies of herself smiling in Paris or with cute boys on a beach in Hawaii, but chose instead to visit Poland to gain a better understanding of what millions of people suffered there at the hands of the Nazis.

      The world would be a much better place with more "insensitive" people like her in it.

      July 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
      • awanderingscot

        "The world would be a much better place with more "insensitive" people like her in it."

        Do you really believe people should get a pass on being insensitive whether intentional or not?

        July 23, 2014 at 10:32 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          You're constantly insensitive, so once again skip the hypocrisy!

          July 24, 2014 at 4:37 am |
        • rogerthat2014

          "insensitive"

          Quotation marks can be used to indicate a different meaning of a word or phrase other than the one typically associated with it and are often used to express irony.

          July 24, 2014 at 6:26 am |
    • getagriponlifeman

      Personally I don't see it as in appropriate. Only people who dwell on the past instead of looking forward to the future would find what she did as in appropriate. Life's too short to spend all your time dwelling on things you cannot change. Obviously people have a lot to smile about when you think of all the lives that were due to die in that place but were released. So yes, a smile would be in order if you look at things in a positive perspective. History is history and again, you cannot change that but if you look for the silver lining in everything it makes life a whole lot more livable.

      July 24, 2014 at 10:30 am |
      • awanderingscot

        those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.

        July 24, 2014 at 10:39 am |
        • evolveddna

          scotty..which is why we try to remind you of your cults jaded history.

          July 24, 2014 at 9:02 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Geta,

        I respect your opinion. I do not think the girl have awful reason to smile in the selfy shown, however, in instances were selfies or photos of individuals beside a dead combatant or enemies i think is an awful disgusting intent. Does not matter if its a jew, jesus, kadafi, osama, hitler or a taliban.

        July 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
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About this blog

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