My Take: God no longer in the whirlwind
Seeing the wrath of God in natural disasters was once commonplace.
August 28th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

My Take: God no longer in the whirlwind

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

As I am riding out Hurricane Irene on Cape Cod, I cannot help thinking about how differently New Englanders in colonial times interpreted these natural disasters. While we speak of the eye of the hurricane, they were ever mindful of the eye of a God who was watching over them, and sending storms their way as punishment for their collective sins.

A fierce debate among academics about secularization theory–the view that societies will become less religious as they modernize–seems to have been won by the skeptics.

Yes, secularization of a sort is happening, but only in certain places (western Europe, most notably). And it seems to be reversible (see the United States today vs. the United States in the 1970s). So simple versions of secularization theory seem just plain wrong.

However, one place where American society, at least, plainly seems to be growing less religious is in the realm of natural disasters.

When the Great Colonial Hurricane raced up the east coast and lashed New England in August 1635, its 130 mph winds and 21-foot storm surge were almost universally viewed in supernatural rather than natural terms—as a judgment of God on the unfaithful.

We still have Puritans among us today, of course.

Pat Robertson is notorious for turning natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina into supernatural communications—God’s curse on Haiti or New Orleans for bad religion or widespread abortions.

And on the radio a couple days ago I heard a talk show host suggest that the one-two punch of the recent earthquake and hurricane were two thumbs down from God on the leadership of Barack Obama.

Still, American society as a whole no longer interprets natural disasters as signs of some coming apocalypse or evidence of some past misdeeds. And those that do (Robertson, for example) we generally regard as cranks and outliers—relics of a bygone age.

Some say science and religion are engaged in a battle for the soul of America. I don’t buy that.

I know there are bitter divisions over evolution and creationism, for example. But there are all sorts of spiritual arenas where science is mum, and vice versa. Science and religion run on parallel tracks far more often than those tracks intersect.

Hurricanes and earthquakes are one arena, however, where the language of science has almost entirely routed the language of theology.

Psalms 107:25-33 reads: “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. . . . He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground."

Today, the overwhelming majority of Americans—including the overwhelming majority of American Christians—believe that when God has something to say He speaks in less dramatic ways, including the still small voices in our hearts and the slightly louder voices of the preachers in our pulpits.

When it comes to earthquakes and hurricanes, however, our authorities are geologists and meteorologists. Most of us interpret these events not through the rumblings of the biblical prophet Jeremiah or the poetry of the Book of Revelation but through the scientific truths of air pressure and tectonic plates.

As a result of this sort of secularization, we are much better at predicting the course of hurricanes. The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 arrived as a surprise and took many lives with it, including, according to the report of the Massachusetts governor John Winthrop, those of eight Native Americans taken by the storm surge while “flying from their wigwams.”

So we are better prepared, thank science. Our stories are far less dramatic, however. The overwhelming majority of Americans believe in God. But their God no longer acts out his fury as in Bible days.  Our storms have not yet been tamed. But our God has.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Belief • Faith • Science

soundoff (2,530 Responses)
  1. Joe

    This country is still very religious and very christian. We just have the media who is 90% non-religious and they're the ones writing the articles. They know the people of this country hang on every word they type (except the smart ones). Just saying "America is becoming non-religious when it comes to storms." is the writers opinion. Funny how he can just spit that out with no support for his statement. I 'believe' myself that the city areas of this country are less religious, while the hard backbone of the country, the rest of us that live away from the city mess, still have faith in our God. Who knows.

    August 29, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • E=MC2

      Well stated Joe. You are right. Those in the city have learned the "laws of the jungle" – eat or be eaten. Ever wonder why we "get away to the country" to rest? Why do they say people in the country are so nice and much more honest? These are the same people who make up the majority of Christians in this country. I personally believe people in more rural areas have not been as corrupted as those in more urban settings and therefore rely more on God. God is there for everyone, city or country, it just is a matter of ones heart. throughout history, man has relied so much on his intellect in trying to solve life's problems when time and again many of our great leaders/intellectuals have driven to destruction. The best experiment, while not perfect, has been democracy. The principles that have made democratic societies so great have been based on christian principles many of which are found in the 10 Commandments.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • BRC

      I hate being argumentative, but your facts are a bit off. Democracy (first practiced on a historically notable scale by the ancient Greeks) predates Christianity by a rather long time. Incidentally it was hand in hand with relgious tolerance, as many city states had their own gods, and while everyone liked their own gods best, they didn't generally go about killing and cursing everyone else just becase they prefered Apollo to Athena.

      Like the ironic name, by the way.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Laughing


      Um..... sorry, but you're a bit off or you have a very rosy colored version of what it's like in the rural areas. Sure they're nice and wholesome until they come across who is say.....Jewish, black, atheist, gay, persian, arab, etc..... It's all a matter of perspective. I wouldn't say that urban life is the most welcoming (Sort of) and wholesome way out there. City people can be gruff and impolite, but its also the best way for our country to really mix with each other. I'm as.suming you live in a rural area which makes you want to believe what you said to be the absolute truth, but I'll help you out of ignorance, there are good and bad people everywhere, christian or non-christian and when people "go to the country" to rest, it isn't because city life is so amoral and horrible, it's because its fast paced.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Fred1

      So if god causes storms and controls where they go and what they do, then why can scientists accurately predict where the storms will go. Or is god seeing into the future and knowing what there predictions will be, creates a storm that will comply with them?

      August 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      because in weather terminology, there is something called 'variance' that they haven't figured out yet. That's why they can't accurately predict weather patterns all the time and weather anomalies like storms. There is no one (such as a god) guiding storms, it's just that we don't understand how they completely work yet.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  2. kate


    August 29, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      or use the brain you have and search it on the internet

      August 29, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  3. iamdeadlyserious

    I guess I would wonder why god felt the need to be in charge of storms in the past, but not in the 21st century. Did he get tired of visible displays of his wrath?

    Or maybe, just maybe, have we learned more about our world and the natural phenomena that occur in it?

    August 29, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • E=MC2

      Are we necessarily learning more and more how the "natural world" works or are we simply understanding the very mechanisms God uses? People tend to forget that God made the world and the laws of the universe. While omnipotent, He does use the very laws He created. People only want to "see" the supernatural to believe in God. Why? If He made a completely problem free world, we would behave selfish and expect everything just like the Hollywood elite do. They have no basis to see good from evil when everything is given to them. Then, their lives simply crumble apart and misery ensues- drugs, infidelity, cheating all to find the next best thing. When God allows good and evil He gives us a choice to seek fulfillment in Him, not the world. If you truly understand the God of the Bible, you would see that it is He who wants to give you life and abundantly.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Laughing


      First and foremost, are you saying that now since we understand how storms, hurricanes, tornados, etc... form that it is god, it just isn't god in the classical zeus sense? The original question still stands from iamdeadlyserious, is god tired of showing his wrath in an overt fashion so he has to use his own laws to "send a storm"? Seems like you're just trying to cram god in there to make him still be relevant in natural storms.

      Secondly on you're little tirade. You said that if we were to live in a world without god we'd have the hollywood elite. It behooves me to point out that since we have the hollywood elite doesn't that just mean that we live in a world without god (this is by your logic), second, so you dislike having to hear about upperclass people in california doing drugs, cheating on one another, avarice and so on, do you not realize that happens only......everywhere? It's more publicized in magazines and the internet, but I would say the majority of people deal with the same issues on a daily basis. Open your eyes buddy.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • E=MC2

      Laughing- It never ceases to amaze me how angered people like you are when you propose to be so open minded. Of course the issues of the Hollywood elite affect us all. It is just an example of how we perceive "the good life" when looking to the Hollywood elite, yet time and again see them fall straight on there face time and again. It is where we put our priorities in life. The God of the bible does give us a choice and therefore we do see immorality all around the world and by and far it is those people who have lives devoid of real meaning as they chase a reality of a world that just isn't real. I am an immunologist and my personal experience over the past 30 years has shown me that people who rely on their own intellect and abilities live very shallow lives with little meaning other than their work. Outside their work they truly are searching for true meaning in life. Of the Christians I know and I mean true believers, not cultural Christians, while they do face life's challenges just like the non-believer, they have their faith to get them through it and science has proven they live healthier lives. While I have stated this many times here, String Theory is an excellent example of how science is showing more and more the reality of things possible that we never thought possible before! String Theory does call for 10-11 dimensions. In short, parallel universes. We can never measure the infinitely small vibrating strings of energy that make up all matter, yet Physicists believe this true! Is it science or philosophy? If it brings us that much closer to a unified theory than we may achieve what Einstein sought his whole life (by the way, he didn't believe in quantum physics either which we know is true). So, the very science that is supposed to make us rational and not believe in a "god" opens the very possibility that one could exist right in front of us (in another dimension) and we would never be able to see or detect Him. Therefore, dont be so quick "buddy" to close your mind to a real possibility! Smile, Jesus does love YOU!

      August 29, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Laughing


      Anger? Just asking question and pointing out flaws in your thinking.

      Issues with the hollywood elite effects us all? Really? How does it effect you in your daily life? Will and Jada's marriage is on the rocks, better go home and make sure my marriage is solid! Lindsay Lohan is doing drugs again! Better make sure I don't do drugs! Really, seeing this "depravity" is nothing new, we just get more of it. If you don't like it, then don't pay attention to it, same thing I have to do when religious ideas are thrown at me.

      It's also incredible that you believe that by having faith you can find meaning in life, but people without faith lead shallow lives. Talk about generalization. Based off your own experience that's what you've seen. Based off my years of experience people who have faith generally waste their precious moments on earth by praying and trying to feel a connection with something that doesn't exist vs. the people who have rejected the notion of god who go and live their lives to their fullest because they know of the limited amount of time they have. See how that works? It's a matter of perception. Now do I REALLY think that all christians are like this, no, probably not. I'm sure most believers really do find meaning and enjoyment in their inane rituals and does that mean as much as a non-believer getting equal amount of satisfaction from going to a park and enjoying a nice summer day? I'd say so.

      Lastly, on string theory. You have about the right of it except you've decided to leap to conclusion based on extreme bias and then have the cojones to say that atheists are blind. Yes string theory operates with 10-11 dimensions and that includes (maybe) paralell dimensions where it really very well may contain the being you believe is god. I don't think anyone will disagree with you (fundementally at least) on that point. What most people agree is that this hypothesis is very unlikely. You seem to think that since science can operate on hypothesis that it somehow makes science bleed into the philisophical realm, which is not so. We might not have been able to prove string theory (it is a THEORY afterall) nor have we found a GUT (grand unified theory) YET, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to prove. Trying to insert god into scientific theories is only setting yourself up for science to prove you wrong in time, so how about you try and look at things with a fresh perspective and consider the possibility that god (or at least the version of god you have in mind) has a very low probability of existing.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  4. another believer

    If we were punished as we should be by God, we'd be one maimed society!!!

    August 29, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • E=MC2

      You are right! That is what is so amazing about grace......

      August 29, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • LetsThink123

      because Jesus died for our sins (the original sins of adam and eve), we r now saved by the grace of god right?
      do u know that Jesus died in vain? because adam and eve never existed which means that there was no original sin, and Jesus died for nothing. Also, how can Jesus, who u think is god, not know that he came down to earth to die for original sin in a mythical tale? shouldn't someone of a godly status know this?

      September 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  5. KC Observer

    Religion; I have to laugh at those who still cling to prehsitoric explanations of nature. What a crock.

    Faith – the irrational belief in a supernatural being.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Me

      Your comment makes me sad for you.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • RightTurnClyde

      Most of what you believe is irrational .. THINK about it

      August 29, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Religious sects

      ME .. you get sad really easily.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  6. Believer

    God's wrath or not, He allows it for our own good. Think about how many lives that the storms have affected. Believers/non believers both have had to think about this God of ours and turn back to Him or inquire to who He is. Mean while He is there waiting with open arms waiting to receive you. Throughout the old testament you can see a pattern. The world increases in wickedness and God used desperate measures (In Love) to have people come back to Him because He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and He uses brokenness for His children for our own good. He wants the very best for us and even though we don't understand His ways we know they are for the very best.

    "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, (Job 38:4)

    August 29, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Jim

      Answer me this: Would the hurricane have been any different if I were a believer?.if I were fervent in my faith would the hurricane have been less powerful? what if everyone in my town were Atheist? would it have been utterly destroyed?
      My belief of course is no....regardless of my belief or the belief of my neighbors the hurricane would have hit exactly as it did because your God doesn't create hurricanes or earthquakes or tsunami...the Earth naturally has them,always has,always will and that is proven with science unlike religion which has no way to prove itself than it's believers "faith"

      August 29, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • E=MC2

      @ Jim: That is the age old question, why does God allow things like this to happen to good people? Humans see the world in a perspective of "if things are good I must be doing something right" and if not, I must have done something wrong. We all live in a fallen world according to the bible. Look around, it is true. Luke 6:33 "if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks do you deserve? Even sinners do that." It is how we respond to God that makes all the difference. There are many times I have to do things my children think are unfair because one did nothing wrong while the other did and yet both feel the consequences. I dont "punish" them ( no, not physically) out of spite, but rather so they learn from their mistakes. Iron does sharpen iron. You will never sharpen iron with wood. Most of life's greatest lessons are learned during hard times, not good. There are good parents that allow difficult situations to transpire to teach and there are parents that allow difficult situations to transpire for selfish reasons. This is precisely the difference between a loving God that allows bad things for our good and Satan who promises the world to meet our expectations yet serve only him.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • LetsThink123

      for the last time, we don't live in a fallen world because adam and eve never existed. stop making inane comments and look at reality and facts that show that adam and eve could never have been, hence we don't live in a fallen world. I can see that bronze age made up stories still hold u to this day, lol.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  7. mort

    So science makes sense to you for Hurricanes and Earthquakes but not for the other stuff that your god doesn't seem to want to help with...Cancer, AIDS, SIDS, EVERY OTHER DISEASE AND ILLNESS, Famine, all other bad stuff.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • geebs

      So because there is bad stuff, that means there is no God? How do you come to that conclusion? It appears to me that you are merely spewing bile from another source without having reasoned it out for yourself.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • starrbright

      Mort - and others: This is the Age of Grace given to us through the life, death and resurrection of our LORD Jesus Christ. God will and does withhold His hand of blessings if we refuse to confess, repent and obey. However in this Age, He also will withhold His hand from curses He used to place upon the people during the OT days to give us time to repent. The elements along with people and animals do indeed have the original curse upon us and therefore there will be storms etc. If we repent and ask, He will protect us from the storms in our lives - both the elements and personal. As for the illnesses and sicknesses, it is written in Scripture that by His stripes we ARE healed. WE are commanded for US to go heal the sick through the power of His Name. In the OT Book of Hosea He tells us that we perish for lack of knowledge. Read the Bible, become knowledgeable and then DO as He commands.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Fred1

      @ starrbright : “WE are commanded for US to go heal the sick through the power of His Name.” So how come Christians don’t survive cancer any better than nonchristians

      August 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      you said, "This is the Age of Grace given to us through the life, death and resurrection of our LORD Jesus Christ."
      like i posted earlier, adam and eve never existed. Which means we don't live in a fallen world, and there is no original sin. Hence, Jesus, who is god in your eyes, died for a made up story (adam and eve, the reason for the fall/original sin) to save us. Now how does someone like Jesus, who is god, not know that he came to die for a fairytale story?
      Sorry to tell u. but ur age of grace is a sham.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  8. danat

    God is a loser and Jesus is a janitor.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • R


      August 29, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  9. K. Peterson

    I wonder if you've read the New Testament. Maybe Christians don't see storms as a sign of God's fury because that was, in large, a faulty understanding of the Bible. Jesus is the definitive revelation of God's character. What did Jesus say about storms? Well, he REBUKED a storm, which would suggest that the storm was not God's doing, but rather Satan's. Now, I'm not saying that there is a specific evil spirit in a storm–but I am saying that disturbances in weather are part of the fallen nature of our world. And the Bible doesn't encourage us to look at each storm and wonder what God is punishing us for.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • jimtanker

      Of course, anthing good is god and anything that is bad is satan. How convieeeeenient.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Religious sects

      jimtanker, It's like my ex-wife .. she tells our kids that when they do something bad they're like their father but when they do something good they get that trait from her! My ex is a very strong believer too.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • Believer

      Never punishment... His punishment was taken out on Jesus and so was His full wrath. We need not worry about His wrath anymore. The very end is when He purges creation of all sin and all non believers who are without excuse. I do believe that God does discipline us for He disciplines those He loves through brokenness and whatever He wants to allow in our lives is for good.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • jtc

      I'm a Christian, and storms are NOT a result of a fallen world. Think in larger terms than our small little planet. Jupiter has a storm the size of the earth that has existed for hundreds of years! There must be some really big sinners there!

      August 29, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • BRC

      Maybe you can help me with this. You say he took his punishment out on Jesus. How does that make any sense? If you follow that logic:

      -"God" became angry at the world
      -"God" created Jesus (either as his son or as himself)
      -"God" has Jesus tortured and killed (and I've heard the argument that that wasn't the intention, but if a god is omnipotent and omniscient then, nothing is an accident. He either meant for Jesus to be crucified or he's nowhere near as powerful as people say he is).
      -"God" forgives man... but apparently only for now because at some undisclosed later date he's going to wipe out everyone who doesn’t say thank you

      Does that really sound like the work of an inconceivably powerful being, that could create the universe with all the complexity that people like to point out is a proof of an intelligent designer?

      August 29, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • Stacie

      There is nothing "fallen" about this world – or storms, for that matter. This world is beautiful. It is a perfect, closed, symbiotic system. Millions of species lived here for hundreds of millions of years. Even HUMANS lived here for at least 200,000 years, in relative harmony with their ecosystems.

      No, this earth is not "fallen." But humans really are, though probably not in the way you mean. The only way the "fall" of man makes any sense at all is if it is a description of the rise of civilized cultures and their horrific destruction of a beautiful creation.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • DrJStrangepork

      Where is the cutoff? If a storm negatively impacts human life it is "part of a fallen world," but if it is just a rain storm that brings water to some thirsty plants it is just normal or a "blessing" ? Consistency... There is the argument against religion. You can't have one group say a process that has happened well beyond the span of man's existence is something that is now caused by a higher power.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • LetsThink123

      good post. But you are asking a believer to think critically which is what i would compare to a 'miracle', lol. Well, at least you tried.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  10. SMH

    Let's just throw the baby out with the bath water...
    When you lump all "Christians" together you lose the very essence of those who truly love God and follow His directions.
    If you would actually pick the Bible up and read it without any preconcieved ideas, you could see many things are coming true, in both the old and new testaments. The problem is you have allowed the bad apples to spoil the whole lot.
    One of the main things that is spoken about, is that we will be ridiculed for believing in Jesus..and truly that is very apparent here..and it will only get worse.
    Unless you choose to believe you can never understand what I believe and though I don't agree with the position of atheism I don't call you stupid but we don't get that same respect. I certainly don't go around calling you insane for your belief (I do pray for you) but just because you were hurt..offended..by a Christian you feel that it is ok to lump all of us together and insult us.
    As for this article and all the others written by this guy..they are lousy pieces of journalism. It is biased to all other ways of thinking except his and on top of that he chooses to name Christian leaders, without knowing the full truth about where they stand and he chooses those same ones for just about every article he writes.
    Truly you can continue to believe that the Great I Am has been tamed...you can continue to believe that He doesn't exist..you can rely on science and your own self ability..no one is stopping you..wait for it......only He can change you..but beware He can and will harden your heart..that may sound good now but then again you could be wrong.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • jimtanker

      Name just ONE specific thing that is in the bible that is coming true. Just one.

      And no, wars and rumors of wars doesnt count. I said specific.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • SMH

      I already did..read my post again..we (Christians) will be persecuted for His (Jesus) sake

      August 29, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • geebs

      How about...ummm... I don't know....Israel becoming a nation once again?

      August 29, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • justme

      jimtanker, you are one.
      now i would like to add the book of matthew ch.24, luke ch.21, mark ch.13, 1 tim. ch.3 and all of the book of revelation.
      that's a quick read so when you are finished i will give you more.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • Laughing


      I mean really, to say, "The bible said we were going to be ridiculed and now look!" is like saying My calandar told me I had a meeting on thursday and low and behold I had a meeting on thursday! When you start a new religion, the majority of people are going to think you're crazy and probably make fun of you, with christians you were more liable to get thrown into the lion den. The main idea here though is that when you build into a holy book that followers are going to be made fun of because of their crazy beliefs and they have to keep faith is a smart way to get ahead of would-be bullies. Look around now, I can guarantee that any "ridicule" you're feeling is only in reaction to christian policy and statements, and sure I lump all of them together because the main point of EVERY christian sect is to get me to accept jesus as my savior and to follow the new testement, only after that does it become more nuanced.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  11. IceT

    I used to think that CNN was just playing into the hands of religious followers by having a belief blog ... now, with articles like this one, it seems more likely they are subtly making fun of them by showing the absurd side & how religion evolves to meet the needs of the current religion industry to keep butts in seats.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  12. ramicio

    Or maybe there's resting going on for one big cataclysmic event... Do you really think the world is going to get off scot-free from all the filth it's been engaging in and spewing this past century, and especially this past decade?

    August 29, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • jimtanker

      By filth do you mean all of the atrocities that have been commited in the name of your god? Hitler, the Crusades, Inqisitions, priests diddling little boys.....etc, etc.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Rick

      Why does god need to rest? Can you be specific regarding all this "filth"?

      August 29, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      I think your god would have wiped people out back during the Middle Ages if he had a problem with immorality.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • ramicio

      Is that your argument? Things humans have done carried out in the name of God? Let's only remember the bad, too, but not give credit to the good that has been done. You want to know what filth I mean? Turn on the TV. Go out to any social event in real society, and see how people act...and you wonder why there are things like AIDS.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  13. el_incr

    Do you argue over the fact that there is no 4th primary color? We all KNOW there isn't. So why do some of you argue over the existence of God?
    If you KNOW He doesn't exist, why do you continue to argue? That truth is, you don't know. To be absolutely KNOW for sure there is no God, you would have to have traveled the expanses of this vast universe and come back and can say unequivocally, there is no God! Your position must be; I HOPE there is no God. EIther way, you have to exercise faith that your position is correct. Either way, you get to die soon and your position will be confirmed one way or the other.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • jimtanker

      Because there are some people who are delusional enough to believe that there is a 4th primary color even though there is no evidence of it.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • IceT

      and wanting really hard to believe does not make it true. Every Atheist knows that they don't know, we just don't see any reason to believe. I personally would love it if this religion stuff were true but I cannot "make" myself believe just to make myself feel better about reality.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • BRC

      To be fari I've never argued about the existence of gods here. I usually argue about the human perceptions of gods, and why religions are flawed. I'm fine with gods (I don't believe in them, but they don't bother me); I just don't like their fan clubs.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Rick

      Not true. If there is no god, there will be no confirmation because the people will simply die. I don't know if there is or isn't a god. I suspect that it is just deification of bronze age (or earlier) mythology. Would not the position believer HAVE to be "I hope it is MY god"?

      August 29, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Jon

      It's all about doubt. As an atheist, I have tons of doubt about the existance of god. But as a believer, you are not allowed to have doubt that god does exist. Doubt is considered a sin. Why go through all that? Free your mind from ancient dogmas and think for yourself. You will see that morality and kindness are not rooted in belief, it's much deeper and more profound than that. It's BEYOND God.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Fred1

      No, my position is not “I hope there is not god”. My position is there are mountains of evidence that god does not exist and there aren’t even mole hill of evidence that he does. Just like vampires, unicorns and elvs

      August 29, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  14. Reality

    "Professor" Prothero ends his column with "But our God has." using a capital G and also not noting that he is a professed "partial" atheist (how can one be part atheist??) i.e. "wishy washing" the entire commentary.

    "Prothero: Some of my best friends are atheists. Some of me is atheist, too. … " http://www.patheos.com/.../friendlyatheist/.../stephen-prothero-talks-about

    wish·y-wash·y (wsh-wsh, -wôsh)

    adj. wish·y-wash·i·er, wish·y-wash·i·est Informal
    1. Thin and watery, as tea or soup; insipid.
    2. Lacking in strength of character or purpose; ineffective

    August 29, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • jimtanker

      He probably means that he is a weak atheist. Relating to a 4 or 5 on the Dawkins scale.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • David

      Watch out, Mother Nature ( in CAPS ) is coming for you !

      August 29, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  15. Glades2

    Disasters like the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina deaths and 9/11 are of man's doing, whether out of greed or indifference or politics, as in the New Orleans situation, or hatred for another culture, as in 9/11, but to say that God is no longer a part of anything that happens is completely and totally wrong, since the Bible states that nothing can exist without God – does God desire suffering of Mankind – no, as the Bible states, but does God permit human suffering for a greater purpose – yes, that sometimes is necessary, as the Bible also states...

    August 29, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • jimtanker

      That is about as stupid as $shlt. If you realy believe that then you are as evil as the god of your bible.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • JT

      "as the bible states...". You are using some 2000 year old bronze age text as your evidence about the supernatural? Seriously?

      August 29, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • BRC

      IT's a fairly personal question, so I undertand if you don't want to answer, but do you have any beliefs or thoughts about "God" that don't come from the bible?

      August 29, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • PulTab

      blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

      August 29, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  16. Lou

    Get Them While They're Young


    August 29, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  17. Bobs your uncle

    I sure do seem to have a lot of facebook friends who think this combined with an earthquake and removing god from schools is a sign of god yelling at us to pay attention. I wish more people used their brain and thought rationally for a second instead of passing around poorly thought out facebook posts. If hes real, God can make us pay attention to him by showing up with a bigfoot and a loch ness monster under each arm.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  18. Just me

    Who was it that said, "God wouldn't create a second great flood because the first one didn't work."

    August 29, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  19. Lou

    Noah's Ark


    August 29, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • steve

      That was great! Thanks

      August 29, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  20. David M.

    I find it all amusing when people think they are speaking for God. He really does not need humans to "explain" what He does or what something means. Most of the time when people are saying God is doing something to "punish" a nation, they are only spewing mindless drivel with nothing to really base their statement on. One's opinion is simply an opinion. And that applies to both the religious and non-religious. Stop trying to assign motive to God.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Just me

      Isn't that the crux of the situation? The entire basis of any religion is for a select few to try to enterpret events and the words of others to make it fit within the context of a given religion/belief system. That certainly involves some degree of "why?". I agree with what you're saying. What those who try to explain events from a biblical context often overlook is when they attempt to explain something and come up short, it regularly opens the door for people to refute their inadequate explanation. Are they spreading the word, or inviting criticism then walking away when they can't address the questions? At that point, have they spread religion, or cast doubt in the mind of those who may have converted? As you eluded....some things are better accepted without question......That's the heart of "faith".

      August 29, 2011 at 8:49 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.