Poll: Few Americans believe natural disasters are signs from God
March 24th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Poll: Few Americans believe natural disasters are signs from God

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

A new survey conducted on the heels of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami finds that few Americans think natural disasters are signs from God and that even fewer believe God punishes nations for the sins of its citizens, as some suggested after the Japanese disaster.

At the same time, most Americans believe God is responsible for everything that happens in the world, according to the survey, which was released Thursday.

The survey was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service.

Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans (38%) believe that earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters are a sign from God, while roughly 3 in 10 believe that God sometimes punishes nations for the sins of some citizens, according to the survey.

Shortly after the Japanese quake and tsunami, the governor of Tokyo said publicly that the disaster was divine punishment for Japanese egoism, though he apologized for the remarks a day later.

A majority of people who self-identified as white evangelical Christians bucked the consensus against God punishing nations for the sins of its citizens, with 53% saying they believed that to be true.

Even more white evangelicals, 59%, believe that natural disasters are a sign from God, while only about one-third of Catholics and white mainline Protestants share that view.

Two thirds of white evangelicals also believe that natural disasters are evidence of the "end times," according to the survey.

The survey was conducted by telephone with 1,008 adults in the continental United States between March 17-20 as news was pouring in from the hardest-hit areas in Japan.

The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Read how prominent voices with different views on religion make sense of the suffering in Japan

Fifty-six percent of all respondents said they believe God is in control of everything that happens in the world, according to the poll.

And 7 in 10 Americans believe God is a person with whom a person can have a relationship, according to the poll.

But most Americans, 58%, said they attributed the increased severity of natural disasters to global warming, while 44% said they attribute it to what the Bible sometimes refers to as the “end times.”

The respondents tended to split along party lines - 52% of Republicans said the increased severity could be attributed to "end times” prophesies, while 75% of Democrats said it was the result of global warming.

“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. They’re thorny theological issues. We wanted to see if we could get at it with polling to see what Americans think,” pollster Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, told CNN.

“We asked people how many were following what was going on in Japan, and nine out of 10 said they had heard a lot. This is something very clearly on the minds of Americans as they answered this poll.”

Jones said that where respondents worship played a big role in how they answered the questions.

“One thing that may be underlying this is how one approaches the Bible. Evangelical white Protestants are much more likely to take a literal approach to the Bible. In the Bible, natural disasters are used as a sign or as a punishment from God. Mainline Protestants and Catholics have a much less literal view of the bible,” Jones said.

Regardless of which pew American Christians find themselves in during the weekend, their beliefs about God’s role in matters like this are something Jones says brings a lot of debate.

Ryan Coyne, a philosopher of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School, said, “What’s interesting is the disparity ... [between] the belief that God or the divine controls actions in the world and the reluctance on the part of some to attribute some acts in the world as punishing acts.

“There’s a reluctance to think of God as a punishing god. One must look for other explanations for evil in general if one is reluctant to attribute natural disasters to the divine,” Coyne said.

“Just by virtue of calling it a ‘natural disaster’ we’re asking is this ... outside of the reach of the divine,” Coyne said. “Five hundred to 600 years ago, there wouldn’t be the assumption necessarily ... [that] something like this was not directed by divine will.”

Regardless of the cause of natural disasters, the survey found that an overwhelming number of respondents - 83% - said it was very important or somewhat important to give financial assistance to Japan despite economic troubles in the United States.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Culture & Science • Protestant • United States

soundoff (976 Responses)
  1. Matt T

    All gods, especially the Abrahamic gods, are totalitarian despots, rewarding those that submit unquestioningly to their will, while threatening, demonizing, and punishing those that didnt. Its no wonder you have Islamic desposts and Christian desposts littered throughout history more frequently than the others.

    The "Kingdom of Heaven" needs a no fly zone as badly as the Libyan Arab Jammahariyah.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  2. allen

    God is a feel good figment of a delusional imagination. If there is such a being then that would mean that there is hope for the Easter Bunny(my favorite)the tooth fairy etc.In the meantime,my money`s on Darwin

    March 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • emily

      Allen, I respect your opinion, but scientists have created a theory that the universe was once the size of a golf ball. Let's not get into what made that golf ball explode or how the heck scientists figured that out, but my question to you: What put the golf ball there?

      I didn't even read the article and this comment probably has no relevance to it. I was just on there because I'm doing a research project on Libya and needed to know what Jammahariyah is – hah!

      February 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  3. Marge

    If we had a vengeful God and he was angry it sure as heck would be with republicans and he would be smiting them all over the place, especially the ones pretending to be Christian, you know like Beck, rush, fox news people and the tea bags and republicans wanting to be president.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • pProf

      Of the one true God it is written that he is vengeful, a consuming fire, and that it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Also, it is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment. God's wrath remains on all those who reject his son Jesus. Only by fleeing to Jesus for shelter can one be spared the coming wrath of God.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      The wrath of god has been on it's way for 2000 years, do you have an exact date when this is supposed to happen?

      One would think "GOD" would be able to give us a date, being all omnipotent and all... that is unless you have no proof of anything you speak of.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  4. pProf

    zombie: He has spoken to all of us through the prophets and apostles (i.e. in the scriptures) and he spoke to us especially in the last days through his Son. Jesus assures us that his sheep hear his voice and follow him. I hope that you are one of his sheep. By his grace, I am. He gave his life for his sheep, and they are secure from the wrath they would deserve otherwise. If you are not one of his sheep (evidenced by not believing in him as the Son of God), then you remain under God's wrath. This is a precarious and terrifying place to be, even if you don't realize it.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Matt T

      There is a certain irony in describing oneself as a "sheep" when it comes to religion and the exercise of free will.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  5. mouse

    No, not all of you ARE catholic.....because you all can't agree what your god is telling you because there really isn't a god. A god wouldn't confuse people and split his church in so many splinters that you could pick and chose what you wanted too. NO, a real omnipotent being would be so different than our small minds could imagine and wouldn't need us to IMAGINE him/her/it but could show us who and what he/she/it was and how to really be. There isn't a god, I could do what he does...pray to me and give me a tenth of all you own and earn and IF I in my infinite mind decide to honor your request I will but if not I won't and you won't know the reason or the why but don't sweat it there is a great place waiting for you when you die. Of course, I'll either still be here or dead myself so you can't hold me too it..

    March 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  6. Tam

    Who's God? Which one?

    March 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • pProf

      The only true God, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Hi, where is your proof that god exists? Oh, you don't have any proof? So you believe in the supernatural simply because you don't know the answer to something or how to cope with it? ok thanks for sharing.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  7. rhumba

    Hmm... What if the end times are caused by global warming? How will those evangelicals explain that?

    March 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      waving my hands and frothing "Because god works in mysterious ways"


      March 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  8. STLBroker

    Bad things happen to good and bad people. Plenty of scripture to support that.

    The real point is that dying is the best thing that can happen to a person assuming they are in God's good graces when it happens. They are now in a much better place than the rest of us.

    The trick is to be in God's good graces right now so that if catastrophe strikes, we are good to go. And it is never too late to do so. Just ask the thief on the cross next to Jesus.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      STL – shame for children tortured and killed in the world. However all part of the master plan and god likes to watch it.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @ZJ- what have you done today to prevent evil in the world? Do you even believe there is evil in the world? I doubt you do given your positions on that which you cannot see or touch.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I don't know if ZJ has done much to prevent evil in the world, but since organized religion is evil, he has attempted to curtail some of that evil.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @PraiseTheLard- That sounds like an opinion. Too bad there are no neutral researched facts to prove your hypothesis.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Tracy

      LOL! Pathos with Ethos – " Too bad there are no neutral researched facts to prove your hypothesis." You do realize that too is an opinion. LOL!

      March 24, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Tracy- Actually, what you are citing is a fact, not an opinion. If I am wrong you are more than welcome to prove me wrong.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Why do less (mentally) evolved human beings create and believe in "god" and/or any "religion" ?

      1. Causal Determinism, or "we are hard wired to need answers"...to explain phenomena, afterlife, the unknown they do not YET have answers for.

      2. Coping mechanism for Death/starvation/natural disaster/etc.

      3. Maintain social order, instill morality on society etc.

      The problem is when we don’t find a logical answer, we settle for a stupid one. Ritual is what happens when we run out of rational answers.
      People are afraid to look to science and accept that life might end at death and nothing follows afterward.
      There is on proof that any god of any religion exists, and there never will be, because it's all man made and fake.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      How less evolved are you for relying on copy/paste all the time?

      March 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  9. JDJ

    God does allow earthquakes, etc. to happen. Is it possible that these happen sometimes because of people's sin? Yes, but I don't know when this is. When confronted with a disaster where a building fell and killed 18 people, Jesus asked the crowd "Do you think you are more righteous than the ones who were killed? I tell you the truth, unless you repent, you will all perish." Jesus' point is that death comes for all of us and that we had better be prepared for our own time instead of worrying about why some die in catastrophic events.

    March 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      JDJ – Does god talk to you? Do you hear his voice? Do you see demons and magical creatures? 2000 + years and counting and the end is near.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @ZJ- where do you keep getting this "magical" reference? No one has said it but you keep pointing it out. You do realize the difference between reality and your own fantasies right?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  10. Charlie Jensen

    What a crock !
    The funniest thing after a disaster of any magnitude is the stereotypical interview with some religious yokel at the foot of his hospital bed who was tossed in the air by some tornado which broke at least one arm and caused him to have his head bandaged from the cuts that accompany his concussion as well as killing his wife, favorite dog and year old baby, left his Ford F-150 in a tree in the next county and demolished his barn as he looks deeply into the camera and says "God was lookin' out fer me today !"
    What a crock !!!

    March 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    Jerry Falwell said 9/11 occurred because of pagans, abortionists, feminists, "the gays and the lesbians" and the ACLU.
    Pastor John Hagee said about Hurricane Katrina "I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that."
    Pat Robertson claimed that the earthquake in Haiti was caused by its people's "pact with the devil".
    Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi asserted that "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray, corrupt their chast.ity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes".

    Gotta love shamans that will take any opportunity to reinforce the dogma of shame and guilt that keeps their coffers

    March 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      And most believe their shamans. Isnt the ignorance astounding in christians and muslims. Their gods jsutify their actions and ignorance.

      March 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @ZJ- your opinion.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      PE I thought that was a given.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Zombie Jesus: you wrote: " Isnt the ignorance astounding in christians and muslims. Their gods jsutify their actions and ignorance."

      Why are you leaving the religious jews out of it? Or the other fundamentalist belief systems?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Woody

      Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Pat Robertson, Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi.

      This sounds like roll call in the looney bin.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      And a person with your name must have issues with their bedroom performance.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • Woody

      And with a name like yours, you sound like you're REALLY into Greek.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      More into Rabbi Heshcel's book "The Prophets".

      March 24, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Cindy

      I love this argument from Rabbi Heschel – "That religious experience is a fundamentally human impulse, not just a Jewish one, and that no religious community could claim a monopoly on religious truth."

      March 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Ethos with pathos

      Nice to see someone on here is educated, thank you Cindy.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  12. Please Consider

    Scriptures That Point to a Bright Future

    “Come, you people, behold the activities of Jehovah, how he has set astonishing events on the earth. He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.”—Psalm 46:8, 9.

    “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Acts 24:15.

    “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”—Psalm 72:16.

    “No resident will say: ‘I am sick.’”—Isaiah 33:24.

    “As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”—Proverbs 2:22.

    “Look! A king [Christ Jesus] will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself.”—Isaiah 32:1.

    God’s Kingdom will remedy any suffering we may have experienced

    March 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > God’s Kingdom will remedy any suffering we may have experienced

      Again, who cares what the bible says. Reality is determined by facts, not by fanciful writings in some book where the author claims to have met God and is dictating his/her/its will.

      March 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      I always find it interesting/funny to hear people quote from their bible written and created by man as if it is relevent in reality. lol

      March 24, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @ZJ- It's not as funny as you thinking your opinion has anything to do with reality.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The entire Book of Revelation

      March 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Useless

      Wars have not ceased throughout human history – FAIL
      There has never been a resurrection throughout human history – FAIL
      People have been starving to death since the first mutation – FAIL
      People will be sick as long as we live on this earth – FAIL
      "wicked" and "treacherous" people are always around, many of them religious – FAIL
      Justice has never prevailed – FAIL

      How can we trust your god when he has failed every chance to help people?
      He doesn't exist. I don't trust non-existent gods, especially your fake god that ra-pes children and murders innocents.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • maybe

      Please Consider,

      You can type every sentence - every word - of the Bible here, in every different version, in every different language, frontward and backward... you will not prove anything until you prove:

      1. For non-believers:

      a) That there is a "God".

      b) That this "God" wrote the Bible.

      – or –

      2. For believers:

      a) That you have the correct version, transcription, translation, and interpretation of it.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Useless- Interesting, just about everything you point a finger at God over, you could fix in your everyday life at some level. But I doubt you do, therefor I guess we can mark you as a FAIL

      March 24, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Amen

      Yes you are right, and Im glad that some people are sane and understand what is going on. May I add read the bible, read the scriptures, and understand them. THink of all of the things that we are seeing, all of the mass animal deaths, earthquakes, the fires, the poverty, the famon, and not to mention the disrespect for God, I wonder why all of these thinks are happening..

      March 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      PE you do realize the difference between reality and make believe?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • NL

      Sounds like life in the 24th century as envisioned by Gene Roddenberry. Will there be transporters too?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @ZJ- of course I do, as much as you do.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Spencer

      @ Amen

      Has it ever crossed your mind it’s because of religion that the planet is in such bad shape. Religion is the one that keeps say procreate, have babies. Well, guess what the planet is becoming over populated and because of that the human race is gluttonous of the resources, blocking up natural rivers, taking out the oil, and coal, then the mistreatment of animals. What planet wouldn’t have issues with what is being done to it. Guess what it has nothing to do with God. You want to blame someone blame yourself and your religion that keeps bashing science because to save this planet and ourselves we are going to need it at the rate we keep having babies and gluttonous ourselves on the natural resources.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  13. Please Consider

    James 1:13 states: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” So if you have suffered evil, rest assured that God is not the cause.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Useless

      I am assured of no such thing! Who are you to say anything regarding your god? You cannot even prove he exists!
      Pray right now and ask him why he doesn't do anything outside of people's heads! You'll get no answer.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • NL

      I'd ask you to refer that question to the Canaanites, but they were all wiped out by ... a natural disaster ... Right! That's what it was. A huge wind just swept up all the Hebrew men, along with their weapons, and blew through the Canaanite settlements killing them all, except for the young girls who then lost their virginity when this same wind forced the Hebrew men up against them. Sure, happens all the time.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  14. Zombie Jesus

    At the same time, the most Americans believe God is responsible for everything that happens in the world

    Fifty-six percent of all respondents said they believe God is in control of everything that happens in the world, according to the poll.

    And 7 in 10 Americans believe God is a person with whom a person can have a relationship, according to the poll.

    Did I read this right? Amazing mankind has advanced to where they are at now? People still believe in myths and this is amazing to me.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @ZJ- You mean like the myth that ppl really care about what you think? Or the one where you actually think that someone loves you or that you are worthy of love. Oh man, those are a riot to believe in aren't they?

      March 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      PE – Is that all you can say. LOL

      March 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @ZJ- Why, does the truth take longer to say than that? 😉

      March 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Spencer

      "You mean like the myth that ppl really care about what you think? "

      You do, you keep posting to make yourself feel like you actually know something but as you continue to post it become obvious you don't. Oh, I know...that is your ego.

      March 24, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      You sound offended Spencer. If all this it too much above you, plz go to the entertainment section. It might be easier on you 😉

      March 24, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      To be fair Spencer, I don't really care what ppl think on here. As far as I am concerned you are all fun little toys to wind up and play with when I have a few spare minutes. Nothing you or anyone else on here has to say really effects my faith. No more than what I say would effect you. Unless your faith is that weak and unstudied.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      "a few spare minutes" when he's posted in multiple pages of posts, multiple times.

      try a few spare hours. with so much time on your hands, you should try to get proof that god exists, oh wait, that's impossible, because god doesn't exist.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • Spencer

      "Nothing you or anyone else on here has to say really effects my faith."

      LOL Yet you keep hanging out to voice your opinion constantly. LOL! What a jerk. LOL!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      @Atheism is the only truth- As I have ask many times on here, plz tell me the criteria to be able to prove that God exists. Not just to you, but to be able to every person. Can you plz provide that criteria? I doubt you are able.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Ethos with pathos

      @Spencer- A typical response from a toy 😉

      March 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • James

      Pathos with Ethos/Ethos with pathos – someone that is always criticizing others are deeply unhappy, have a low self-esteem and are usually depressed.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Ethos with pathos

      Quite possible James. Not always correct, but a nice theory.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      @ Ethos with pathos "@Atheism is the only truth- As I have ask many times on here, plz tell me the criteria to be able to prove that God exists. Not just to you, but to be able to every person. Can you plz provide that criteria? I doubt you are able."

      How about ANYTHING at all? Any criteria we have used to PROVE that anything else exists and is real in human history? Can you please provide ANY proof whatsoever based on ANY criteria? Anything real would suffice. I know it isn't possible.

      What I find the most disturbing is even after you demonstrate why "religion" was created, how the story of jesus is simply a plagarized story the same as other stories from around the world of other civilizations/religions form worshiping the sun, how the stories of the bible are plagiarized from other books/civilizations/religions, it's all make believe, yet you cling on to your beliefs as though god high five'd you at breakfast this morning. It's crazy.

      March 26, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Lycidas

      "What I find the most disturbing is even after you demonstrate why "religion" was created, how the story of jesus is simply a plagarized story.."

      You have yet to prove that.

      March 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Greek

      In the Ennead mythology, Osiris is the husband of Isis, and sibling of Set, all of whom are the great-grandchildren of the creator god Atum or Ra, and Horus is not present within the system. In the Ogdoad mythology, Osiris is not present within the system, and Horus is son of Atum, the creator god. When the Ennead religion and the Ogdoad religion merged as a result of the unification of upper and lower Egypt, Ra and Amun were identified as one-another, becoming Amun-Ra, and Horus was initially considered the fifth sibling of Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, and Set. However, Horus' mother, Hathor, gradually became identified as a form of Isis, leading to Horus becoming Isis's son, and therefore the son of Osiris. It should be obvious that these are two separate yet very similar gods that have been merged into a mythological family social structure.

      Both Horus and Osiris were resurrected by Isis with help from Thoth after being killed by Set the evil brother of Osiris. In one legend Osiris’s body is cut into pieces and scattered throughout Egypt, Isis set out to look for the pieces and she was able to find and put together 13 of the 14 parts, but was unable to find the 14th and most important part, his pe-nis, instead, she fashioned a “phallus out of gold” and sang a song around Osiris until he came back to life. Thus Osiris was resurrected and so it was that Isis conceived Horus.

      March 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Lycidas

      My gosh how daft ppl are, coincidence does not equal connection.

      Do you think the penguin and auk are related too?

      March 29, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  15. Maybe

    I really don't know which is worse:

    1. The believers in the punishing/rewarding "God", who kills babies and only certain, chosen disaster victims... or

    2. The believers in the "God" who only gets praise for the good things, and are highly insulted when someone suggests that he should be blamed for the bad things too.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      No, what is worse is ppl that would judge God based on their own finite moral understanding of the universe.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Pathos with Ethos
      "No, what is worse is ppl that would judge God based on their own finite moral understanding of the universe."
      There is a simple fix for that, just have God come here and explain it to us.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Why should God go and do that Nonimus?

      March 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Maybe

      "Pathos with Ethos
      Why should God go and do that Nonimus?"

      Yeah, it would sure ruin the evil, "Guess Who / What / Where / When / Why and Damn You Forever If You Guess Wrong" game for him, eh?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      PE – "No, what is worse is ppl that would judge God based on their own finite moral understanding of the universe."

      Really, serious? Which god? Post-god of a dead empire that is now considered mythology? Or present day...pre-myth god?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Pathos with Ethos,
      "Why should God go and do that Nonimus?"
      Hey, you brought it up. I'm just saying if it's bad that "ppl... would judge God based on their own finite moral understanding," then there is a simple fix, as I mentioned before. Otherwise, I'll just assume either it's not that important or He doesn't exist. 'k

      March 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Nonimus- What you are assuming is that God is accountable to us. I don't know why ppl have this faulty premise, are we all so full of ourselves to think that God should be answerable to us?

      ZJ- which God do you think I would be referring to on a thread referencing the Christian religion?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      "No, what is worse is ppl that would judge God based on their own finite moral understanding of the universe."

      No, what is worse is ppl that would believe in a man made non-existant thing called "god" for their own finite moral understanding and to explain the complexities of the universe.

      It's for stupid people who don't have an answer for something, who must then associate something supernatural with it to explain it. It is a primitive psychological need called causal determinism, that people are evolving away from.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      I love the fact you are so desperate to prove ppl wrong on here and you fail.

      Go look up absurdism and then if you still believe there is no purpose to anything, put a gun in your mouth and fire. I bet you will be able to find an irrational purpose in your life to live. Even though you go with the concept nothing matters.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      So defensive.

      March 26, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  16. NL

    Interesting how the Bible Belt seems to lie in the region that suffers the most from natural disasters in the US. Are the disasters making these folks more religious than the rest of the country, or is God punishing them specifically for something they're doing wrong, like they believe he does?

    March 24, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Sean T

      Good questions, NL. Since there are no gods communicating with anyone, I guess we won't hear any actual answers tho.

      March 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      Perhaps god will post something here? Oh wait, he will post through someone else that was called upon to speak on his/her/it behalf

      March 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Please Consider

      Job 34:10 says

      Therefore, YOU men of heart, listen to me.
      Far be it from the [true] God to act wickedly,
      And the Almighty to act unjustly!

      March 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Job 34:10 says

      Who cares what Job says. It's an obviously false story. Why would God and Satan enter into a bet? Doesn't satan know that God knows and that entering into a bet is stupid? Do you normally bet against people who know the answer? 😛

      On a much broader note, who cares what the bible says. It's been shown to contain forgeries and outright lies. In both the old and new testament. When you rely on the bible, it's obvious that you're only interested in confirming your own beliefs and not figuring out what is actually true.

      March 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Perhaps he ran out of Job-less benefits...

      March 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • NL

      Sean T-
      Would you say that many people 'find' God in times of traumatic emotional stress? Disaster, family death, foxholes? All times when people are thinking at their least rational, right? Desperate times calling for desperate measures, and all that!

      March 24, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  17. Iqbal khan

    Read read


    March 24, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Reality

      And the koranic/mosque/imam- driven acts of terror and horror continue:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,483 and 925 in non combat roles. 99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.
      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011
      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Bob

      Hey, Reality: God killed more people than Hitler just in the first two books of the Bible. Better watch out – you may be next (just kidding on the last point)

      March 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  18. derp

    If this is part of gods plan, he is a crappy planner.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      He is the worst landlord of all time lol

      March 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @ZJ- Hmmm, and what rent have you been paying?

      March 24, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Amen

      Not really if you read the Bible it tells us that this will happen read revolation, it gives you a plan to what is going to be done and why...

      March 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      PE – I pay my rent to Santa and the Toothfairy

      March 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Lanfear

      I want God to plan my wedding.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @ZJ- Sounds like you are a horrible renter then if God is the Landlord. Perhaps that is why he is trying to evict you.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  19. AshHole

    Ah, the old dichotomy. Is God really doing things or not?

    March 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Look like you've never read the Bible.

      I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.

      Isaiah 45:7

      If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?

      Amos 3:6
      Lamentations 3:38
      Revelation 6-19


      March 25, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Do you believe everything you read?
      Do you believe santa clause is real too? no? why not?

      March 27, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  20. Reality

    A view of God and natural disasters from Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian:

    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."

    March 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Why do you keep bringing up Catholic stuff? Not all of us are Catholic, go get some new material.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Reality

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices.

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man whose father supposedly reeks havoc all over the globe would like or hate or destroy?

      March 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • pProf

      God ordains all things that come to pass. He teaches us this in his word. He holds all people accountable for their actions; this he also teaches in his word. I affirm both, though it's not always clear how they fit together.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bob

      Physics tells us that nothing is predetermined. It also tells us there is no free will. The belief in free will is the cause of many of the social problems in this country. And the belief in free will originates with the Judeo/Christian heritage. Thus, we can't solve our problems because we base our beliefs on outdated myths. Go to school and study science. You may be surprised at what you find out.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      God talked with Satan, what's your point?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      "So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man whose father supposedly reeks havoc all over the globe would like or hate or destroy?"

      Reality, you need to actually do a little research before you go all wierd on us. Jesus could read and write, the Bible even shows that at multiple times.

      According to research, Jesus was born in BCE.

      What's wrong with being a preacher-man. You are preaching on here and I assume you are a man, as much as you could be I guess.

      "Reeks"?? Doe something smell? And if you paid attention to the article, most do not think God sends natural disaters to ppl.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Mike E.

      Perhaps human minds aren't capable of understanding how free will and an all knowing God are possible.

      March 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Why do less (mentally) evolved human beings create and believe in "god" and/or any "religion" ?

      1. Causal Determinism (some humans are hard wired to need answers)...to explain phenomena, afterlife, the unknown they do not YET have answers for.

      2. Coping mechanism for Death/starvation/natural disaster/etc.

      3. Maintain social order, instill morality on society etc.

      The problem is when we don’t find a logical answer, we settle for a stupid one.
      Ritual is what happens when we run out of rational answers.
      Some people are afraid to look to science and accept that life might end at death and nothing follows afterward.
      To alleviate this anxiety and fear, they believe and have faith in the supernatural to help them cope.
      There is no proof that any god of any religion exists, and there never will be, because it's all man made and not real.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Reality

      The illiteracy of the simple preacher man aka Jesus, as per contemporary experts:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton's commentary in his book, Rabbi Jesus, An Intimate Biography,

      "What Luke misses is that Jesus stood in the synagogue as an illiterate m–amzer in his claim to be the Lord's anointed". Note: Luke 4: 16 is a single attestation. No where else in the NT does it say Jesus could read thereby making said passage historically unreliable.

      Professor JD Crossan notes that Jesus was an illiterate "Jewish Cynic" from a landless peasant background, initially a follower of John the Baptist.

      The only Gospel reference to Jesus writing is John 8:6 in the Pericope Adulterae, widely considered a later addition, where it is not even clear he is forming letters in the dust, and the Greek "εγραφεν" could equally mean he was drawing.

      It is very unfortunate that Jesus was illiterate for it resulted in many gospels and epistles being written years after his death by non-witnesses. This resulted in significant differences in said gospels and epistles and with many embellishments to raise Jesus to the level of a deity to compete with the Roman gods and emperors. See Raymond Brown's book, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Luke 4:16 note on p. 237) for an exhaustive review of the true writers of the gospels and epistles.

      Of course, Muslims believe that Mohammed was also illiterate. This way, they can claim that the only way he could have received the "angelic", koranic passages of death to all infidels and Islamic domination of the globe by any means, was orally since he could not read and write. "Google it" or "Bing it" for verification

      March 25, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Pathos, you have to understand one thing about Reality. His nose is out of joint, just like satan's. Pride, wanting to be bigger and better than God. Reality is bucking to be worm food, same as satan.


      March 25, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      @Atheism is the only truth- There you go generalizing again. Plz keep your prejudices about those who have a faith at your own home. or at least take your opinion to an atheist board.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Ethos with pathos

      @Reality- Sad when the Bible itself said he read from the Torah, you can't accept that. This is why I have no respect in any measure for atheists like you. You hold to your beliefs as hard as any Christian.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality condemns Jesus' truth because he follows the Talmud. Believing he is god. Oh, but those in the higher positions stroking you to believe this to be true, wipe you out as they step on and over you. LOL.


      March 26, 2011 at 12:35 am |
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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.