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May 6th, 2011
08:16 AM ET

Faith unshaken by tornado

By Aaron Brodie, CNN

Tuscaloosa, Alabama (CNN) - The sound of someone playing a piano drew us in to the Alberta Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, two days after a devastating tornado ripped a deadly gash that will scar this Southern town for years to come.

I had been looking for a high spot where I could to shoot a panoramic image of the endless landscape of destruction, but I turned back toward the church with CNN's Wayne Drash to see where the music was coming from.

Alberta Baptist seemed to have fared better than many of the buildings in the immediate area. It was an oddity in this neighborhood, because it was both standing and clearly recognizable. Whatever had been next door was neither.

The church was hardly unscathed, though. Much of the roof was missing. Stained glass windows were blown out. And the facade of the main chapel was reduced to a pile of rubble spread across the front sidewalk like a bag of building blocks.

Inside the church, we met a small group of members who had come to witness firsthand the challenge that lay ahead. A young girl stopped playing the piano as her mother began to tell us how the building had recently been renovated.

I started taking photos of mangled metal and shattered sheetrock, all covered with a thick dusting of insulation that made you itch just by looking at it. As I was about to leave, I met Joe Southern, a member of Alberta Baptist for 45 years.

Joe lives in a part of Tuscaloosa that was spared the monster's wrath. Yet he decided to make the trek across town through military checkpoints, driving down streets littered with debris into what can easily be described as a war zone, to see the fate of his religious home.

In this video interview, Joe explains that while "we've lost a building," the church is more than just bricks and mortar: The church is the people. He says the congregation will rebuild, and that the tornado and its aftermath have only served to strengthen his belief in God.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Alabama • Baptist • Church • Houses of worship

soundoff (969 Responses)
  1. brittany

    GOD BLESS EVERYONE WHO WENT THROUGH THAT HORRIBLE DISASTER

    May 6, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Artist

      brittany

      GOD BLESS EVERYONE WHO WENT THROUGH THAT HORRIBLE DISASTER
      >>>>>
      Kind of late to bless the poor f kr's who died huh. God was pi $$ ed at them I guess.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  2. Nick

    How on earth does this crap make the headlines?

    Who cares?

    What's next "Chimney fires does not deter kids beliefs in Santa Claus"

    I need to find a new news site to read.

    May 6, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • pat carr

      well this is the junk that passes for american media

      May 6, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  3. Thoughtful

    By the way, I am also an Alabama tornado survivor.

    May 6, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • SeanNJ

      So was just about everyone else...except the victims that your god saw fit to kill.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Artist

      Apparently you prayed harder or better than those that perished. Now is a good time for self relfection for you. Perhaps your eyes will be open now to reality?

      May 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Thoughtful

      My prayers are certainly no more efficacious than those of others, and my prayer life no better. Randomness is apparently built into the very fabric of the universe, as almost 100 years of research into quantum physics reveals to us. It causes us to ponder both the quality of "the will of God" and the possible means of its manifestation. Scripture also speaks to this on rare occasion, when not describing how God achieves His purposes in spite of things that He could not possibly have been in favor of. Ecclesiastes notes that "time and chance happens to all men". These are not doctrines that I take for granted; but ones that I have decided to embrace after years of careful study. I have, in fact, studied them for so long that I understand very well how one can take an opposite view. The only thing that distresses me is the venom that gets associated with the discussion.

      May 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Rogue

      @Thoughtful – Venom is not always there, but when it is you might consider that the person expressing it feels they have a good enough reason for it.
      Sincerity is not a blank check for whatever it is used for. You can be as honest and sincere as you like about religion, but at the bottom of it all is the fact that religions are based upon falsehoods no matter how strongly you believe the lies.
      My venom comes from hating dishonesty and lies and stuff like that. My anger is righteous and the universe smiles upon me. 😛

      May 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Huh?

      By the way, @Rogue, I mean you no disrespect. I'm merely trying to point out the obvious glaring errors in the arguments from those of you who say that religion is a lie.

      However, though I must ask, how closely did you read what @Thoughtful said? In your response, you said:
      "Venom is not always there..."
      To the best of my reckoning, he did not use the word "always." Perhaps this is nitpicking on my part, but as the parent of elementary-school-aged children, I despise the misuse of that word in an argument.

      But I digress.

      You go on to say:
      "...but when it is you might consider that the person expressing it feels they have a good enough reason for it."
      He did consider it. Please note, in his comment, he says:
      "I have, in fact, studied them for so long that I understand very well how one can take an opposite view."
      I get the impression @thoughtful is simply attempting to engage in a rational argument, instead of a mindless interchange of opinions based solely on emotion.

      What really puzzles me about the "anti" view that you and so many others on here espouse is that, if I may quote you: "Sincerity is not a blank check for whatever it is used for." How can that be true, when, as you put it: "My venom comes from hating dishonesty and lies and stuff like that."

      In other words, why is your sincerity in hating religion and the notion of the supernatural any more of a blank check to issue venom than is the sincerity of the believer to state his or her faith? Furthermore, what evidence can you offer that God does not exist?

      Just wonderin' 🙂

      May 8, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  4. Thoughtful

    We are not unaware of the philosophical problems incurred by belief in an all-powerful, all-loving God. These problems are significant, and deeply felt among thoughtful Christians. Natural disasters are particularly difficult for us to resolve within our belief structure; and syllogisms purporting to "prove" that God cannot be both loving and all-powerful abound. However, our deeply personal experience of spiritual interaction combined with a rigorous process of reason that has its roots in neo-Platonism combine to convince some of us that both are not only possible, but likely. Pretending to have the intellectual high ground doesn't make it so.

    May 6, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Thoughtful

      Hey -Thoughtful...

      You Said: "However, our deeply personal experience of spiritual interaction, etc.."

      I'm sincerely curious if you are willing to share what some of your "experiences of spiritual interaction" were that you have come to interpret as being of a spiritual nature.

      Respectfully,

      Peace...

      May 6, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • cat

      Well said, Thoughtful. And best wishes to you and your family while you recover (if you lost property, a job, anything in the storm).
      What people on here don't seem to understand is it's just plain cruel to criticize somebody who has beliefs in God or some other spiritual being and it's just as cruel to criticize those who have no beliefs. Live and let live. Yes, there are MANY who use their "religion" to judge and spread ignorance and hate; at the same time, there are those who use their faith in a higher being or purpose to promote love, education, and acceptance. Some of the most educated people are also people of faith. A person must be really insecure to ridicule a believer (or nonbeliever) when there's no way to prove anything. I think it's part of being human to question things and to adapt the things we've read and learned into a way to deal with uncertainties, grief, death, tragedy of any kind. It's human nature. Thank goodness we can question things and learn from one another! Even if there is no heaven or life after death or ultimate purpose in life–at least we enjoyed the present by learning from our differences. If shared/similar faith brings people together to help one another after a horrible tragedy like the recent tornadoes and floods, then it's a positive thing, even if only in that moment.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  5. Luis Wu

    After a disaster, stupid people are still stupid. It's not like they're going to wake up and their intelligence level has increased because of it. They'll still cling to the same archaic myths.

    May 6, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Les

      People have the right to be part of a religious ,as you have the right to be an atheist.
      But being a pompous dill weed will get you no where,so either respect peoples decisions or have a nice cup of STFU.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:15 am |
  6. William

    Love the comments. It's about time the enlightened, educated minds begin speaking out against the medieval religious nonsense.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • CW

      @ William,

      Let me see...Ah here you go

      Costs to you
      Non belief, Atheist, = cost you your life and eternity in H-ell

      or

      Belief in God, Faith that Jesus di-ed for your sins, = enternity in Heaven

      See John 3:16 for additional reading

      Anyway whats it worth to find out to you? I'll take the Heaven option.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Luis Wu

      CW – How utterly stupid. An intelligent person dismisses ancient mythology for what it is. So... what do you think, they're going to suddenly have brain damage to the point that they would accept archaic nonsense as fact? Wallow in your fairytale world with your invisible friends if you want but don't expect intelligent people to fall for that ignorant nonsense. Get a brain.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • CW

      @ Luis Wu,

      7 Whoever corrects a mo-cker invites insults;
      whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
      8 Do not rebuke mo-ckers or they will h-ate you;
      rebuke the wise and they will love you.
      9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
      teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

      Proverbs 9:7-9

      Wow funny how that so called "fairtale" is right.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @CW: Allow me to translate...

      7 Whoever disagrees with you is wrong
      8 Whoever agrees with you is right
      9 Hang out with the "right" side

      Built-in self-defense mechanism. Not exactly prophetic.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • NoFool

      @CW: You DO realize that your position and your religion is one of threats and intimidation, right? "If you don't believe, you will burn in hell." That kind of brainwashing and threatening behavior may have worked well in ancient times but fortunately man, as a species, has significantly advanced out of the dark ages since then. Interesting that you don't see anything wrong with the pitcure you paint: That a supposedly benevolent and loving diety would send some of his creations to an abominably horrible place to suffer forever (and ever, amen) because they would not declare "Him" their supreme ruler. Wouldn't you say that such a "god" has a serious ego problem? It's obvious he makes no distinction between whom he kills and whom he allows to live as a result of "natural" disasters. Your reference to "the great flood" in the bible necessarily means that these "natural" disasters are actually caused by god on purpose to punish man. But do you mean to tell me that every single person killed in a natural disaster was not a Christian and didn't worship god? If they were "good Christians", then why did god kill them along with the sinners? Colateral damage? It's all too preposterous and no one with a lick of common seense will buy it. You have been completely brainwashed, period. Godisimaginarydotcom is a place you really need to go to and read up!

      May 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Free

      CW-
      Maybe you can, but most people can't just decide to believe in something that they know isn't true.

      May 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Stephen

      Nofools you give a website but did you ever look to see if there is answers?

      Addressing each of the 50 points is unnecessary as it doesn’t matter if the site had 50,000 “proof” points against God; all one needs to do is use a logical, rational, and reasonable argument to show that God does indeed exist and every point becomes irrelevant. It is telling and interesting that godisimaginary.com focuses so much of its time on red herrings of issues with prayer and why God won’t do tricks upon request, and ignores the primary question of philosophy and religion: “Why do we have something rather than nothing at all?” In other words, like Flew, the site concentrates on issues with a gardener they believe to be imaginary and ignores the question of why a garden exists in the first place.

      The only place on the site where a possible answer to this question is offered is “proof” point 47. Complexity, says the site, could only arise from either Nature itself or a Creator. “Proof” point 47 then states, “The advantage of the first option is that it is self-contained. The complexity arose spontaneously. No other explanation is required.”

      This as-sertion and conclusion is flawed as they have proposed two explanations and then bundle a third option into the solution they like – spontaneous generation with an eternal universe. An eternal universe is, initially, a logical option but not spontaneous generation, which is a scientism term for something coming from nothing or self-creation, which is an analytically false statement – that is, a statement that shows itself to be false by definition. A fundamental law of science is ex nihilo nihil fit – out of nothing, nothing comes. And as Aristotle said, “nothing is what rocks dream about.” The web site derides Christians for believing in magic, yet it embraces greater magic than anything found in the Bible – life just appearing out of nothing from non-life with no cause, which is what spontaneous generation is.

      Next, their argument ignores the basic laws of causality – an effect must resemble its cause. How can an impersonal, meaningless, purposeless, amoral universe accidentally create beings who are full of personality and obsessed with meaning, purpose, and morality? It can’t. Further, intelligence doesn’t arise from non-intelligence, which is why even Richard Dawkins (noted atheist) and Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA) admit that intelligence had to engineer DNA and life on earth – they just say it was a superior alien race who seeded the earth, which of course, begs the question of who engineered that superior alien race. godisimaginary.com claims, “No intelligence is required to encode DNA”, but refuting this statement is the very co-discoverer of DNA itself – Francis Crick – who admits there is no way for DNA to have arisen apart from intelligence.

      But what of evolution? Doesn’t evolution explain life and intelligence? Not at all. Evolution is a biological process that attempts to describe change in already existing lifeforms – it has no way to answer the question of existence. This one piece of evidence alone began to turn Anthony Flew away from atheism.

      These facts being evident, it then becomes quite easy to offer a simple, reasonable, logical proof for God in the following way:

      1. Something exists
      2. You don’t get something from nothing
      3. Therefore a necessary and eternal being exists
      4. The only two options are an eternal universe and an eternal Creator
      5. Science has disproven the concept of an eternal universe
      6. Therefore, an eternal Creator exists

      The only premise that can be attacked is premise five, but the fact is every drop of evidence in the possession of science points to the fact that the universe is not eternal and had a beginning. And everything that has a beginning has a cause; therefore the universe had a cause and is not eternal. Any fanciful as-sertions of collapsing universes, imaginary time, and the like are just that – fanciful – and require more faith to believe than to believe in God. The two choices are simple – matter before mind or mind before matter – and it is interesting that this web site claims it is their intelligence that causes them to choose the former over the latter.

      “But who created God?”, the site asks. Why not ask “Where is the bachelor’s wife?” or “What does the color blue taste like?” It’s a category mistake – you don’t make the unmade. Further, why sit back comfortably and believe in an unmade universe and yet angrily bristle at the notion of an unmade Creator? Could it be because mindless matter cannot call human beings into moral account whereas a personal God can? Finally, is it more reasonable to embrace a cause that contains none of the characteristics of its effect (personality, love, meaning, purpose, etc.) or a cause that embodies them all (a personal God)? The site claims, “In other words, by applying logic, we can prove that God is imaginary.”, but in reality, logic, reason, and evidence disprove their position and point in the absolute other direction.

      May 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Stephen

      the rest...

      The end conclusion is that a personal Creator exists. Moreover, this Being who created everything mirrors the God described in the Bible quite well as evidenced by what one can infer just from the fact of creation alone:
      He must be supernatural in nature (as He created time and space).
      He must be powerful (incredibly).
      He must be eternal (self-existent, because there is no infinite regress of causes).
      He must be omnipresent (he created space and is not limited by it).
      He must be timeless and changeless (He created time).
      He must be immaterial because He transcends space/physical.
      He must be personal (the impersonal can’t create personality).
      He must be necessary as everything else depends on Him.
      He must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites.
      He must be diverse yet have unity as unity and diversity exist in nature.
      He must be intelligent (supremely). Only cognitive being can produce cognitive being.
      He must be purposeful as He deliberately created everything.
      He must be moral (no moral law can be had without a giver).
      He must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).

      The Judeo-Christian God perfectly fits this profile. At this point, all 50 “proofs” on the web site become irrelevant – God exists, therefore all points offered on the site are incorrect in the final conclusion that they collectively try and reach. Wondering why God won’t cure all the cancer in the world because a group of Christians prayed for it, pointing out the divorce rate among Christians, scoffing because God doesn’t create money for churches out of thin air, wondering why Jesus never moved a physical mountain, as-serting a false dichotomy that says a person must be a person of facts or of faith (many brilliant scientists believe in God), making incorrect claims that Jesus never did a concrete miracle (what about raising numerous people from the dead?), and erroneously stating that the Bible “advocates” senseless murder, slavery, and oppression to women all end up being impotent in light of the conclusion that a creator God exists.

      Answering such objections – if they are genuine and not extended in a way that refuses to believe even if reasoned responses are given – requires only the disciplined study of Scripture alongside the Spirit of God who inspired it. Arguments with those who possess a hardened skeptical spirit are to be avoided as 1 Timothy 20 says: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge". But even still, God is fully capable of using His powerful general revelation (the creation) to witness to those who appear completely lost due to a skeptical and hardened heart.

      In stark contrast to the article he'd written many years earlier, in 2007 Anthony Flew wrote a much different kind of book enti-tled There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. In it, he recounts his atheism and relays how he now, because of evidence and reason, believes that a creator God exists. The one who initially posited an “imaginary gardener” now says, “I think the origins of the laws of nature and of life and the Universe point clearly to an intelligent Source. The burden of proof is on those who argue to the contrary.” This being the case, one thing is certain – the 50 frail attempts on godisimaginary.com to disprove God fall far short of even causing a nick on the armor of evidence that opposes them.

      May 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Artist

      Stephen

      Nofools you give a website but did you ever look to see if there is answers?

      Addressing each of the 50 points is unnecessary as it doesn’t matter if the site had 50,000 “proof” points against God; all one needs to do is use a logical, rational, and reasonable argument to show that God does indeed exist and every point becomes irrelevant.
      .............
      We will stop there. This is part of the cult like brainwashing which forces the closed mind.
      .
      As for your book you wrote, I will simpley state you are well on your path to becoming agnostic if you can just work on the removing the brainwashing which does not allow you to look outside of the box. Once you do this you can then without bias look at what man has written and "determined to be the word of god" for what it is. You can also look at without bias the history of man and created beings. In the end you might determine that you can no longer have faith in man. However you can say that there might be or have been a creator of some type. It might not be in the magical sense, rather more advanced. As to the creation of the Universe and the beginning you might realize that the answer to that might not be a priority being we are here for a limited time and you dont want to sweat the big stuff.

      May 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • stephen

      Artist: "We will stop there. This is part of the cult like brainwashing which forces the closed mind."

      That is your assumption prove it.

      May 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Artist

      stephen

      Artist: "We will stop there. This is part of the cult like brainwashing which forces the closed mind."

      That is your assumption prove it.
      -------------–
      Sorry it doesn't work that way. Eather the light bulb is going off in your head or it isn't. Good luck. lol

      May 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • stephen

      "Sorry it doesn't work that way. Eather the light bulb is going off in your head or it isn't. Good luck. lol"

      It's apparent your light bulb is off and you use a lame come backs because you don't have an answer. All you want to do is bash peoples comments to boost your low self esteem problem.

      May 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Artist

      stephen

      "Sorry it doesn't work that way. Eather the light bulb is going off in your head or it isn't. Good luck. lol"

      It's apparent your light bulb is off and you use a lame come backs because you don't have an answer. All you want to do is bash peoples comments to boost your low self esteem problem.
      ------------
      Ahhhh Stephen. I will try to keep it simple. Eather you get it or you remain in the same mindset. There was never a debate. I simply commented. Granted some are in jest. I have nothing to prove to you nor do I need to. You eather remain in the darkness and closed walls of your belief system or you start to look beyond it. Nothing I say nor do I wish to change you or anybody. To debate myths is like trying to argue with a retard and foolish. And back to what I said, eather the light bulb is lighting up or it isn't. So you can keep flipping this around or we will just leave it at that.

      May 6, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Stephen

      Ahhhh Artist are you really that naive….everyone has a belief system including you, so you are the one in the darkness and closed mildness with your intolerance of those that don’t believe as you do. Who is the hypocrite? You are.

      May 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Faux Paws

      @Stephen
      "He must be personal (the impersonal can’t create personality").
      I can't buy that one. Personhood implies limitation. One cannot be an "infinite person", (with an infinite personality) unless one is "all" persons. That makes no sense.
      It's anthropomorphic projection. Nothing "is", just because you say it is. You offer no proofs.
      I agree with the above posters. You seem well on your way to skepticism. Good luck

      May 6, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Artist

      Faux Paws

      @Stephen
      "He must be personal (the impersonal can’t create personality").
      I can't buy that one. Personhood implies limitation. One cannot be an "infinite person", (with an infinite personality) unless one is "all" persons. That makes no sense.
      It's anthropomorphic projection. Nothing "is", just because you say it is. You offer no proofs.
      I agree with the above posters. You seem well on your way to skepticism. Good luck
      -----–
      Perhaps someday the lightbulb will go off. this doesnt mean you become atheist. He could simply reject dead men's writings and become Agnostic.

      May 6, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  7. Jeff

    It seems to me that whenever something bad happens in a blue state like California, these christians like Pat Robertson say "Its God's rath because of the sins of liberalism" well it seems to me that Gods rath is about 100 times more in these 100% red, conservative states in the south, perhaps God is trying to tell these folks its time to stop casting stones and judging others (as God is the only one who can judge us). Just a thought.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  8. Colin

    This same nauseating drivel comes out every time there is a tragedy or near tragedy of any kind, anywhere in the world. A tornado rips through rural Alabama, but does not completely destroy a church and it's a miracle from God; a young girl is found in India, totally terrorized, but alive after being abducted and rap-ed for a week, and it’s a miracle from Rama (or Vishnu or Shiva) that she is returned to her parents; an earthquake kills 5,000 people in Tibet, it's a fortune not of a god, but of Karma that more people weren't killed; or a family in Northern Pakistan survives an errant American drone attack, and it’s a miracle from Allah.

    What all these proclamations of miraculous intervention miss is the downside of the incidents. The lives ruined by the tornado, that the girl was held for seven days, ra-ped and will be traumatized for the rest of her life, the 5,000 dead and 20,000 injured in the quake, or that a number of innocent civilians were killed by the drone.

    Of course, none of these incidents really are "miracles," they are tragedies, from end to end. And that's just the point. When the totality of facts are taken into account, "miracles" turn out to be nothing more than people ignoring the downside of a set of facts, focusing solely on the "good" and calling the quarantined "good" a "miracle." A CEO might as well ignore the liability side of his balance sheet and declare it a “miracle” that his company just doubled in value.

    Let me make a prediction. The next time a church goes down in the Bible Belt, it will be a another miracle from the Christian god that nobody was killed. If only a few people die, it will be a miracle that more weren't killed. If all die, it will be a miracle that a statue (or painting) survived. Christinns are as predi-ctable as the sheep the emulate.

    You really think the competing gods are all sitting up in the sky, watching the Earth and selectively intervening with miracles in the geographical areas of the planet where their believers live and ignoring all other parts of the World? Perhaps the many Hindu gods are drumming up miracles in India, Allah is intervening to kill Americans in Iraq, while God protects Americans in Alabama. Gods carving up the worldwide believers market in flagrant breach of the Anti-trust laws!

    Or perhaps this is all silly and we see miracles where we want to. Maybe we should cast off our security blankets and grow up. Now THAT would be a miracle.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Exactly. A girl that has cancer survives and is cancer free. "Halleluja! It's a miracle from God!" What about the other tens of thousands of children that DO die from cancer? I guess the invisible Christian sky God hates them and their families? Religious people have to be the dumbest people on Earth.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • JohnR

      PERFECTLY stated. And this is why this perpetual narrative must be rebutted. It's not cruel to challenge the blind faith in faith at these times. It's a moral imperative.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  9. Faulkner's Liver

    Atheism is reserved for those few with the courage to face mortality without pretense and the world as it is. However, it is far better for the world that the Sheep in this country to have a Sheppard. Few can mentally handle the truth that this world is all there is. Most people need need the fear of eternal damnation in order to act morally.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Colin

      cool name, cool post

      May 6, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • CW

      @ Mr. Liver,

      You say:
      Atheism is reserved for those few with the courage to face mortality without pretense and the world as it is.

      ----–

      I say:
      Atheism is reserved for those that have "closed" their mind to the truth and think that there will be no consequences.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Absolutely right. And CW – YOU are the one with the closed mind. I think that if REAL evidence were shown to and athiest, he would believe. But NONE exists, other than a multi-millenia-old book of myths, written by members of a primitive culture. What is wrong with people that they blindly accept ancient myths over modern science? The only answer I can come up with is that they're not very bright.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  10. bleacherbum17

    The problem with them having faith is that most of these "faithful people" cross the line from private belief and practice, into using religion to justify their own prejudices and agendas. The other problem is that people who have lots of faith also tend to lack the power to have original thoughts or to question anything. They blindly accept what is fed to them, be it from tv, their pastor, or some politician who claims to be a "man of god".

    I think that we can effectively call this the "sheep factor". This "sheep factor" is what allows these manipulative members of the government to push their own agendas through on many matters because so many people only pay attention to the "man of god" part before making up their minds. This also allows them to try and legislate their morality (see abortion protests and the ban on gay marriage).

    The other shocking part is when their "moralities" directly contradict each other. ex: Abortion = bad, murder = bad, but death penalty & war in the middle east (or anywhere for that matter) = good.

    Also, does anyone find it to be coincidence that there is a direct correlation between education level and religious belief? As people become more educated, the rate of belief drops rapidly...shocking.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Colin

      Well said. As they say, "Only sheep need a shepherd".

      May 6, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Free

      Sheep aren't pets. Shepherds are only interested in keeping them safe so that they can fleece them regularly and, once they've outlived this usefulness, they slaughter them for their meat. Hmm... perhaps it is a good symbolic after all.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • CW

      @ Bleacherbum17,

      First let me say that I don't agree with you on your points. First any christian that listens to anything that anyone says should compare it to the word of God...ie "The Holy Bible". Secondly, on your "sheep factor" comment....seems to me that this nation has been turning its back on God for some time. Its these same folks that want "g-ay marriage" and are "pro-ab-ortion "as well that are the true problem. You see if you read in the Bible God one time before caused a flood b/c of this very thing...ie foresaking him. Also....comparing the things you compare don't hold water...no where in the Bible does it say that k-illing in war is wrong. So with all that said our nation is in dire need of getting back to a "God fearing" nation it used to be and make laws that are "MORALLY" right according to the Bible. On your Third point...like I said they don't hold water....even in the Bible it says an eye for an eye(m-ur-der comment). Last thing...as for your education comment....I'm a college grad that is highly successful enough to realize that I can do nothing unless the Lord allows me to.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Luis Wu

      CW – The problem is that your so-called "Word of God" is just an ancient book of mythology, written thousands of years ago by ignorant, primitive people. Why would anyone in their right mind accept such nonsense??????????

      May 6, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • pat carr

      "So with all that said our nation is in dire need of getting back to a "God fearing" nation it used to be and make laws that are "MORALLY" right according to the Bible."

      and there you go. Make laws that are according to the "bible". then you folks actually sit here and wonder why the anger? SHAME ON YOU and your cult. Keep your beliefs to yourself or receive the scorn you so rightfully deserve

      May 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • The Finger

      CW is a traitor to the USA. A domestic enemy of America. I would love to see him prevented from ever realizing his traitorous dreams.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Slinger

      Morality laws? Don't we have enough of those unworkable, unrealistic, and unenforceable legal jokes already?????

      May 6, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • Rogue

      @CW – You already have your biblical morality laws, traitor. If you can't make people follow them using your Bible, what makes you think it would do any good to foist them on the general public?
      You think making everything a copy of the Bible is going to usher in some sort of religious new age, but all it will bring is more evil.
      No one follows you because you are an idiot. What makes you think your ridiculous laws would change anything when they haven't changed the way YOU act at all?

      May 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  11. Coriolana

    What kind of idiotic headline is that? Did you expect to go down there and find people cursing God and screaming about shattered faith? This is 'fishing for bylines', nothing more or less. Stop harassing people who have already have a lot more on their plate than you do serving up a lame Friday column.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  12. Darwin

    IF humans have "free will" to do whatever they want, both good and bad, PLUS if God (if this creature exists) does NOT manipulate or control any natural phenomena in the Universe, such as tornados, disease, earthquakes, etc., then this God is not involved in anything that happens on this Planet! For example, if a man drives drunk and kills a family of 6, then it was his free will to get drunk and into his car, and God had nothing to do with it. You Christians ought to stop your "humans have free will" arguments, because it logically conflicts with almost everything else in your doctrines.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • JustJosh

      Ah yes, the old "free will" tenant... probably the most common non-biblical talking point touted by Christian apologists these days. They'll cry "free will" all day long; until, of course, you ask them to back it up with biblical references. I'm pretty sure the bible only talks about how we as humans *aren't* in control; and how God is the ultimate decider.. But that doesn't bode well with the actual, real life events which transpire every day. So, they invented "free will" as a way to dismiss reality.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Corrective Lenses

      It's TENET, not tenant. Renting an apartment is not something religions do.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  13. Verna

    God be with you and please watch over America , Amen

    May 6, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  14. J

    Reality, while I disagree with the totality of the arguments you outlined, I can tell you that I have witnessed prophesy from a dear friend who is a true servant of the Lord. So prophesy does exist just as my Lord and Savior does too.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Winning a Super Bowl office pool does not const.itute "prophecy."

      May 6, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Peace2All

      @J

      You Said in your posting to @Reality: "Reality, while I disagree with the totality of the arguments you outlined, I can tell you that I have witnessed prophesy from a dear friend who is a true servant of the Lord. So prophesy does exist just as my Lord and Savior does too."

      I'm sincerely curious -J...would you mind sharing what 'exactly' you have 'witnessed' from your friend that you have interpreted as meaning that prophecy exists as well as your Lord and Savior...?

      Respectfully,

      Peace...

      May 6, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Luis Wu

      J – sorry but you live in a delusionary fantasy world.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Jay

      When a woman I know, who is a deeply devout Christian, can look another woman in the eye and tell her she will have a baby within a year, and it comes true, that is prophesy. Now mind you, this woman she told had stopped trying to have a child after years of trying and doctors telling her that she was infertile and would never have a child. She laughed in my friends face when she heard this...she's not laughing now, she is just so incredibly thankful for the wonderful blessing of a child she has in her life. And this woman I know gave all thanks and praise to God for granting her the gift of sharing these messages with the people in her life. So please explain to me how that is fantasy.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Ann Ecdote

      @Jay
      "When a woman I know, who is a deeply devout Christian, can look another woman in the eye and tell her she will have a baby within a year, and it comes true, that is prophesy."

      1. How do you know that this Christian woman didn't just have the Sun in Aries with Libra rising and Mars in retrograde and a partridge in a pear tree, which caused her to make an accurate prediction?

      2. How many things has this Christian woman prophetess told other people which did not come true?

      3. Gypsy fortune tellers have been doing this stuff for ages and credit all sorts of 'spirits' for their alleged successful predictions.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • NoFool

      @Jay: Pure coincidence. Happens all the time. That's how spiritual readers rip people off. Sheer luck and circ-u-mstance means they will be right once in a while, but that's all they need really. After that, the subject is hooked and hoodwinked.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  15. tired

    I am a believer. Why do you feel the need to quote literature from a so-called scholar to convince people to turn away from God? What bothers you about people having faith?

    May 6, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Free

      People read their horoscopes daily, and that's Ok, but would it bother you if Libras read that they should quit their jobs one day, and did? What if everyone who believed that black cats are bad luck all pressured their representatives to make black cats illegal or, better yet, put them all down just to be sure as to not incur any national bad luck? How about a national day of throwing salt over our shoulders, or harvesting rabbit's feet?

      You may not think so, but Christians who go so far as to oppose evolution in the classroom and gay rights, for example, are thinking just as irrationally.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Luis Wu

      If people want to believe in ignorant nonsense, that's their business. But the problem occurs when they try to force their stupidity on everyone else in the form of legislation. Like anti-abortion legislation, school prayer legislation, etc. etc. etc. Wallow in your fairytale world if you want, but don't try to force that ignorant nonsense on me.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • pat carr

      "I am a believer. Why do you feel the need to quote literature from a so-called scholar to convince people to turn away from God? What bothers you about people having faith?"

      because for the 1 trillionth time they don't keep this "Faith" to themselves? get it? ever hear of "evangelization"? religious people trying to push their laws on the rest of us. it's like slapping someone in the face then saying "You're not allowing me to slap you, what is wrong with you!"

      May 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Artist

      What bothers me. Ignorance with power. The ME is an example to the extreme. Regardless of the degrees of extreme whether it is the Christian Taliban here in USA or ME, it is still a danger.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • NoFool

      @tired: Luis Wu says it best here. Please take note, and while you're at it visit godisimaginarydotcom and get your eyes (finally) opened.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  16. CW

    Once again.....To all those that don't believe,

    You're NOT going to change anyone's mind about being a christian and following the only one true God. The simple fact is that you can read all the propaganda that man's wrote all you want. One day if you don't repent and have a relationship with God then you'll be the one explaining things...not those author's your reading. Faith is the basis for the belief in God...period.

    May 6, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Free

      Sounds like you think that Christians are all closed-minded, and unwilling to listen to different views. Is that what you're saying? Lots of Atheists were once just as convinced of God as you seem to be, so never say never.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Rolando Chacón

      There is no god; when you die, you stay dead. Prove me wrong.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Drekker

      You know, if you provided some evidence that God existed, some real piece of evidence, I bet every atheist would look at it and consider it. Many or most might change their opinions.

      On the other hand, atheists have been looking at the existing scientific evidence, which shows that everything studied operates according to natural laws, with no variation at all to prove the existance of anything supernatural alterring the system. All the evidence supports the "no god" analysis, yet most people choose the "god" option. Pretty strange, huh?

      But humans do that. Most Germans willingly followed Hitler. Most Americans thought that Iraq was involved in 9/11 when we invaded.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • CW

      @ Free,
      You say:
      Sounds like you think that Christians are all closed-minded, and unwilling to listen to different views. Is that what you're saying? Lots of Atheists were once just as convinced of God as you seem to be, so never say never.

      -------–

      I say: Those that you are refering to then were never true christians. A true Christian's Faith is never shaken to the point of non-belief. So...Yes a true christian is what you say "closed minded" when it comes to changing them to a non-believer.

      @ Ralondo,

      First let me say that you can't prove that there is no God so I'll just leave you with this saying....."you can lead a horse to water but you can't make the horse drink the water". Hope you loose your blindness towards God.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • JustJosh

      CW: So, by your logic... A person who one day decides to become a vegetarian, never in fact actually ate meat in the first place. Okay, got it. Thanks for clearing that one up for us.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Natalie

      @CW,

      When you dismiss someone who no longer believes as you do by saying they were never truly Christian to begin with, you dismiss a lot.

      You dismiss a lot of pain and struggle. You dismiss a person's journey. You dismiss the person as if they are of no value.

      I was once a Christian. I believed with my entire being. I lived my faith. Nothing you can say will negate that. You can not know me or others like me. I am no longer a Christian, despite the fight to continue to believe. Eventually, however, I had to accept that what I knew in my heart to be true would not allow me to hide behind a label that no longer fit.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Luis Wu

      TRUE God? All the gods that have been worshipped by mankind throughout history would fill 10 football stadiums. But of course YOUR god is the only TRUE one. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Yeah, right. Whatever. Get a brain.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • pat carr

      "following the only one true God."

      yes the one "true god". always your god. if you don't believe...you're going to "hell". can you not even see what rubbish your cult is?

      May 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • NoFool

      @CW: Please visit godisimaginarydotcom and get a sorely needed education. It will save you lots of embarrassment resulting from your posts.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Free

      CW-
      "So...Yes a true christian is what you say "closed minded" when it comes to changing them to a non-believer."
      You know that you make being a Christian sound like some terminal illness, or permanent brain damage, don't you?

      May 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Glxmaniac

      @CW – Man wrote the bible. Man interrupts the words in that same bible to fit what they want to believe, hence all the different cults, like Protestants and Baptists. Your propaganda is 2000 years old. Question it...

      May 8, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  17. cat

    Nobody knows "the truth," but let people of faith cling to their faith in times of suffering. For some of these people, their lives and their beliefs are all they have left. People grieve differently and people find peace and the ability to persevere differently. God bless the good, beautiful people of my home state of Alabama. I'm still in shock seeing the photos and videos of the destruction in the northern half of the state (I'm on the coast and was unaffected), but I'm also encouraged by the volunteering and the heroic acts by complete strangers. I hope the survivors are able to some how find meaning and peace in their lives. Take time to appreciate your families and the beautiful things in your lives, because we never know what tomorrow holds.

    May 6, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • JohnR

      One other thing they have is the opportunity to face reality, learn and grow. There are entrenched forces at work trying mightily to hold them back from these opportunities. Those forces must be opposed.

      May 6, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Ryan Richardson

      To JohnR

      If when you say "These Forces must be stopped" if your talking about GOD, he willl never stop untill those Trumphets blow. I don't think the Non-Believers/Athesit want that to happen. For when those Trumphets Blow, I and ALL the Saved people will enter the Kingdom of Heaven with our Lord and Savior.
      Look at how much anger and hatred you people have without GOD, I'm sorry but we need GOD more than ever. Jesus is the Light, the Life and the Resurection. It's only through him that you may enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I pray for each and everyone of you, and I know that GOD will introduce himself into your lives just as he did mine... GOD BLESS!

      May 9, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  18. Adam

    Look i'm agnostic.

    But if people want to believe what they want to believe what is it to you?

    May 6, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • JohnR

      It's part of the incessant propaganda machine to run stories like this as "feel good" pieces to prop up a disastrously dysfunctional belief system. Rebutting the supposed moral message of these sorts of pro-religion puff pieces is a critical moral imperative.

      May 6, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Rolando Chacón

      People should believe whatever it is they want to believe, as long as those beliefs don't interfere with my freedom and cost me money. They can fight and pay for their own religious wars.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Adam

      Hey -Adam...

      You Said: "Look, I'm agnostic, but if people want to believe what they want to believe what is it to you?"

      First, I am an 'agnostic' as well.

      While, I certainly understand from this particular article, that the need to rely on 'faith' of some kind is often what may get someone past tremendous ordeals. I truly understand and don't begrudge anyone that ability.

      And, in the general sphere of looking at beliefs in general and how they may effect things. We do understand the fact, that from 'beliefs', in other words, what they 'believe' to be 'reality'....(from) those 'beliefs' a persons *actions* will typically flow from said *beliefs.*

      So, it would depend on what someone believes, yes...?

      While I certainly 'respect' a persons freedom and right to believe what they want, certainly some beliefs are going to be more dangerous and potentially harmful than others, yes...?

      I wouldn't think I have to give a listing of the countless dangerous beliefs that often lead certain human's in our own country and around the world to commit terrible acts of horror and terror upon another.

      So, again... I sincerely hope that these people will use whatever resource is at their disposal to get through this tragedy...'faith' included, however, we do need to be ever mindful of the role of 'beliefs' in general and there effects on *actions.*

      Respectfully,

      Peace...

      May 6, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • JustJosh

      ... because they take their faith-based fairy tales to the voting booths with them, that's why. If they would learn to respect the separation of church and state, I wouldn't care. But we have leaders elected by people who genuinely believe in talking snakes, giant animal barges, and a 7000-year-old earth. Something is truly wrong with this picture.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • pat carr

      because they don't keep the beliefs to themselves that's why.

      May 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  19. JohnR

    Clinging to faith in the existence of an all powerful and all loving god in the face of a literal storm of evidence that god must be either impotent to stop tornados, indifferent to their effects on people or simply non-existent takes more than just run of the mill obliviousness. Kinda like a hocky player who takes a puck to the mouth, loses six teeth, places them under his pillow, ends up with nothing but six bloody teeth under his pillow plus huge doctor and dentist bills, but STILL has faith in the literal existence of the tooth fairy.

    May 6, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • pat carr

      good analogy

      May 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  20. Reality

    As per the famous contemporary theologian, Edward Schillebeeckx, God is not omniscient. Please read, pause and contemplate the following by Schillebeeckx:

    Church: The Human Story of God,
    Crossroad, 1993, p.91 (softcover)

    "Christians (et al) 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.e. No one, not even God (if there is one) can prophesy since that would violate the Nature-given gifts of Free Will and Future.

    May 6, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    • Drew Strickland

      atheists among us

      Poor, poor atheists among us, so easily deceived.

      You think you are "courageous, intellectually honest, trailblazers."

      So sad. Your gods are small indeed.

      Your beliefs go by different names.

      You cling to science and logic just like the sheep cling to God and guns.
      In fact, you have almost no understanding of the limits of your two favorite gods.

      Science, logic, human progress...

      These are their names. You build an altar to these limited human constructs. You believe You can have a better life, a better world. You have made the Creator the enemy, and You are correct, he is Your enemy.

      For jusst a moment try and truly be "intellectually honest" with yourself.

      Your real enemy is You.

      Your desire to be unfettered by tiny minded folk, especially, Christians trying to force their beliefs on You. Your wish to be able to do whatever You want, however You want to do it, but here comes the caveat, as long as it doesn't interfere with anyone else's "freedom." It is beyond You that this notion is entirely inconsistent with the logic you lift up as Your god. You should know that everything on this planet interacts with everything else. You cannot place yourself in a "moral vaccuum." You do not have the power to make and legislate your own moral code independent from the rest of the world. You intuitively (I won't say logically becuase that obviously escapes you), know this. This is the real reason you attack, because you know you need to get everyone on the same page. But, on whose page?

      Why Yours, of course.

      Sorry, guys, You lose.

      In a contest between some anonymous internet posters versus the witness of one whom many, many eyewitnesses say was the true God. A God who, I'm told, came and died for me and was raised from the dead. I'm following the guy who died and came back to life. When you have accomplished this feat, (heck, when one of your gods has accomplished this feat) get back with me. Until then, I choose to throw my lot with what the dead man walking has to say on the matter of truth and reality.

      Thanks to the free will allowed You by the true "God" You may continue worshipping Yourself, instead.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Hi Mr. R.,
      (Sorry for all the da-shes, but something is hanging this up, and for the life of me, I can't see what it is.) BTW, our l-i-t-tle group in SD is working on a screening program that will be available for download, which will highlight all the strings of "naughty" letters we can think of, including those in your lists).

      Refreshing to read a post by someone who has actually read some of the background material on the subject of belief. I also have read some of Edward Schillebeeckx, (who I cannot agree is a "contemporary" theologian), and I found him to be in the group of HIS contemporaries, (which include Hans Kung, and Pierre Teillha-rd de Chardin), who were attempting to keep one foot in the camp of those who were "occupationally obligated" to remain committed to the medieval worldview they were raised in, (wasn't Schillebeeckx, to the end, though "censured", a Catholic priest ?), even though they saw that the advent of Relativity Theory, Uncertainty Theory, and Cosmology spelled the end of their outmoded systems. They saw that with the proof that "something" does indeed "come from nothing", (quantum fluctuations), the old logic was doomed, even though they tried to make their increasingly tenuous connections between it and modern scientific discoveries.

      The anthropomorphic concept that a supreme being, in a timeless dimension, "thinks" or "feels" anything is illogical. They are time dependant processes. "Therefore the historical future is not known even to God", is an illogical statement, in reference to a being in a timeless dimension. He doesn't even define his term, (what does it mean to "know" something ?). If there were a god, he would not be having "adventures", for the same reason.
      BTW, the quote by Schillebeeckx about "prophesy" is very disturbing, making me wonder what he knew about biblical criticism. "Prophesy" has nothing to do with "telling the future". That is a Hollywood concoction. But that is another story, entirely.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Reality

      Bucky Ball,

      The comment: No one, not even God (if there is one) can prophesy since that would violate the Nature-given gifts of Free Will and Future, was my take on Schillebeeckx's words.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Free

      Drew Strickland-
      Actually, the Bible and Christianity itself are just limited human constructs. They can only go so far without any objective evidence to back them up.

      May 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.