My Take: This is where God was in Aurora
Twelve crosses comprise a makeshift memorial across the street from the movie theater where last week’s mass shooting happened.
July 28th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: This is where God was in Aurora

Editor’s note: Rob Brendle is the founding pastor of Denver United Church, a former associate pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and the author of "In the Meantime: The Practice of Proactive Waiting."

By Rob Brendle, Special to CNN

I held her hand as she died.

Her family had come to a church where I was pastoring that morning, a routine Sunday. A thousand things would never have crossed their minds as they drove through Colorado Springs toward New Life Church’s enormous concrete worship center - including the prospect of being assaulted in their minivan by a young man with a high-powered rifle.

Later that day, we were all at a local hospital. The girl whose hand I held, Rachel, had already lost a sister at the scene. Her father was down the hall in critical condition and her mother was coming undone in the waiting room, but she didn’t know any of it. Rachel lay unconscious for a couple of hours more in the ICU.

And then she died. Her family had come to church together that morning, and by nightfall they were shattered.

That was almost five years ago.

The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado shook me and the rest of the nation. Reading about the young and unsuspecting victims took me back to the dying girl in the ICU who had come to my church that day in 2007, in a an incident that left the two girls dead and injured several others. Back to the Columbine massacre a decade earlier that horrified the world and traumatized Colorado. And back to the aching questions that accompanied those previous incidents: Why did this happen? Where was God in all of it? How could a loving God allow this?

Where was God in Aurora? 7 responses

We pastors face the unenviable task of being asked to answer for God. Most people ask the big questions in times of irresolution, times when satisfying answers are scarce.

Let’s be clear: there are no easy answers to the deepest questions of suffering. Libraries overflow with the volumes that have been written to address these questions. Centuries of philosophers, pundits and preachers have reflected on the existence of evil, the meaning of pain and the role of God in suffering.

I won’t begin to recount all of their ruminations here. But here’s what I think.

God is the author of life and the originator of good. He distinguished humankind from among his creation with faculties like reason, emotion, dexterity and choice. Scripture teaches that God made people in his image. Set apart from all the rest of his creatures, we were endowed with the capacity to know our Creator and ennobled with the ability to choose him. So singularly did God love humans that he gave us this ultimate gift.

Aurora survivor to alleged shooter: ‘I forgive you’

The capacity to choose God and goodness came with the commensurate ability to choose evil. Is it loving to force his creation to follow his order, or to teach it and leave the creature to choose? It would seem that God came to the same conclusion that America’s founders did many millennia later: compulsory virtue is no virtue at all.

But Scripture also teaches that God is totally in control. He is all-powerful and all-knowing and he is willing and able to intervene in human events. So there is a gap between human choice and divine foreknowledge, a gap that transcends understanding and that helps define God in my mind.

The debate over this theological tension has persisted for centuries, and I don’t aim to settle it here. Let me suggest simply that God, in his sovereignty, has chosen to make our decisions meaningful. Consequently, much of what happens on earth neither conforms to nor results from his preference. There are at least four influences on human events: God’s will, to be sure; but also the will of Satan, our adversary; peoples’ choices, for better or for worse; and natural law (gravity, collision, combustion, and the like).

It is difficult to know which force causes the circumstances that devastate us. But it is enough to know that God need not be responsible for them.

The man who made the Aurora crosses

Much of the internal gridlock around tragedy is because suffering is foreign to us. This foreignness is peculiarly Western and modern. Most of the world, for most of the world’s history, has known tragedy and trauma in abundance.

You don’t get nearly the same consternation in Burundi or Burma, because suffering is normal to them. God and hard times coexist intuitively there. For us, though, God has become Anesthetist-in-Chief. To believe in him is to be excused from bad things. He is our panacea for the woes of life.

The God of the Bible promises no exemption from suffering. In fact, he all but promises suffering. He does not suggest that his followers won’t go through fire, but rather that we won’t burn up. Mostly he promises to be there with us, to comfort and encourage us and renew our strength. God grieves with us, and he grows us into good people in the process.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Where was God in Aurora? He was on the lawn in front of the Civic Building as thousands gathered in solidarity, hope, and love at a packed prayer vigil last Sunday. He was in University Hospital as neurosurgeons groped for synonyms for miraculous.

He was in the outpouring of compassion at a victim’s funeral and in the passionate call for unity from a resolute councilwoman and at the bedside vigil of a wounded victim’s church community. Redemption has only begun in Aurora, and already God is everywhere. Their will be beauty once this story is written that overshadows and transcends the ashes.

Jesus started his ministry by declaring, “I am the light of the world,” and ended it with “you are the light of the world.”

What God our cities will see is what we show them. From the beginning, light has shone in the darkness - he ordered it that way. And the deeper the darkness, the brighter the light will appear. Where is God in Aurora? He is shining brightly from the hearts of his people.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rob Brendle.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • God • Opinion

soundoff (4,566 Responses)
  1. V

    Get over it ... there is no god and we all exist due to chemical reaction to build replicator molecules.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Mike

      It's not that we exist due to the receptor molecules...we exist for the same reasons that the receptor molecules exist

      July 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Madtown

      Oh. Well, since you've got the answers, where'd the chemicals come from then? I'm curious.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Mike

      Madtown- I know these "where did this come from" questions are hard. In the end anything, even god, has to somehow pass this test. If god is something, where god that something come from? If he is nothing, well then how can he do anything? Science does have something to say, by the way, on the existence and creation of matter. And the beauty is, if some of those ideas of science are wrong, they can find out and revise. That takes guts. It's not a faith copout.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Mike

      And one more thing- I don't have the answers. That's my point. I don't just accept what I am told and say..."okey dokey, sounds good to me". It is the not having answers that so many of us are bought into our rreligions.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Madtown

      And one more thing- I don't have the answers. That's my point.
      Precisely my point. I don't have the answers either, in fact no human does. The OP writes as though he's convinced he does.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • V

      Madtown ... your question is as base less as the statement, There is a tea pot orbiting Sun between the orbits of Earth and Mars. ... best of luck disproving this.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Mike

      Madtown- We are in some agreement here. My problem is that many religious do think they have some insight on the "real answer", and that others who believe something else are "off track" or wrong in some way. It annoys me to no end. Especially when they consider how random their belief system is because most religious folks are not converts to something- they just believe what the nearest people around them say.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Madtown

      Madtown ... your question is as base less as the statement
      Got it, all-knowing one. The entirety of humanity will from now on solicit answers from you, on any outlying unanswered questions.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • V

      Madtown ... You are most welcome... but understand it is your own desire to follow someone or something that knows all, caused by uneasy feeling of possibility that we may be all alone with no one watching over us. I think that is what drives people to faith of some kind. And of-course then faith is controlled, manipulated and boundaries are established by few to drive their own motives and purge questioning.

      July 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Madtown

      Madtown ... You are most welcome... but understand it is your own desire to follow someone or something that knows all
      Well, I'm not religious! I'm also not atheist, more agnostic. I'm just saying, I don't know and I also don't believe anyone else does, because the "answers" seem unknowable.

      July 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • V

      Madtown ... I understand ...... Thanks for good chat.

      July 30, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  2. Michael

    What does this have to do with anything based in reality?

    July 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Jake-413451

      It demonstrates the dangers of unchallenged delusion.

      Actually it doesn't but a few are:
      Witch burnings
      Papal Infallability
      religious war after religious war after religious war

      Oh, and of course lets not forget, the helpful assistance to justify doing great evil upon those who don't believe. After all any punsihment we give would be fleeting, and transitory, barely worth mentioning compared to the perfect judgment which awaits them from tehir perfect deity.

      July 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  3. No easy answers - so let's call it MAGIC

    "Let’s be clear: there are no easy answers to the deepest questions of suffering."

    ...that's why we have religion, so we don't have to think, so we don't have to think HARD, so we don't have to think at all. Religion tells us anything and we simply believe. The earth is flat? OK! The earth is now round? Boy, God sure is busy changing the world's shape, but hey – it's HIS world, so why not? The earth is only 5,000 years old? Of Course! Jesus really IS going to come back THIS YEAR – (something we've been saying for 2012 years and counting...!) Hurray!

    Everything is easy when you can snap your fingers and say "HOCUS POCUS JESUS CROCUS" and then convince yourself you're not bat-crap crazy.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  4. Agapath

    Of course, if any of the dead in Aurora were of the "wrong" faith or, heaven forfend, atheist, your majestic deity has already consigned their souls to the eternal cosmic Fry-Daddy. A double-whammy for them!

    July 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  5. Mike

    This whole debate is really nonsensical. The author of this piece believes what he was told. He is as sure of the truth of his beliefs as any devout Islamist, Jew, Mormon, Buddhist, etc. They are all sure. 100%. They know they are right and everyone else is wrong. You can't state any facts in this whole debate except for one. And that is that the majority of people are indeed wrong, about what they believe and "know" to be true. Most believers are so comforted by their belief system they warp all of reality to fit that belief system. Even when the facts are counter-intuitive or even in direct contradiction to that belief system. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry every time I hear the grace of god responses to every calamity where kids, and other innocents die. But I sort of know why it is so easy to fall into the religious trappings. I know it is so unsettling to admit to the unknown and to be uncertain, or to challenge a belief system of one's family or community. It's just the easy way. It's comforting, it is peaceful, and most importantly it provides solace to death (one's self and family/friends). But it is wrong to put the blinders on and to ignore critical thinking. And it is wrong to deindividualize yourself and buy in to the most convenient herd mentality. When we all do that we deny ourselves the very thing that many of the religious folks say was god given in the first place (free will of intellect). Stop and look around and ask yourself does that bible sound right? Stop believing just long enough to ask that question.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • James PDX

      Why would I ever choose a religion that was stolen from another people and which clearly states that this god loves more than me?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Mike

      James PDX- I guess what I was saying is that in almost all cases, the religion chooses the person, just based on what religion one is born into.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • James PDX

      Hey, Mike, I'm agreeing with you. Your point was well stated. I was just pointing out that if I were to choose a religion, I wouldn't ever choose one where my god would always love another people more than me for no other reason than who their parents are. I would never find that in the least bit comforting.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Mike

      James PDX- I wasn't clear form your post what you meant. Thanks for the clarification, and yeah, I totally agree with that.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      It sounds as if James is talking about "chosen people" If so, he has an incomplete understanding of the Gospel.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Mike

      Bill Deacon- And who does have a complete understanding of the gospel? Do you?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I wouldn't say that but the book of Romans pretty clearly indicates that Jesus crucified is good news to Jew and Gentile alike. So, no chosen people.

      July 30, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  6. andy

    It's amazing how imaginary friends never show when needed.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • ac


      July 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Make an intelligent statement please

      Yeah, its just by chance, that my sister was on her way to work on sep 9/11 and voice told her DONT go in today. She would have been dead 100% for sure if she went in. But I guess you'll have answer for that as well. So much silly comments on here, back, and forth, back and forth. with NO supporting evidence.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Huebert

      @ Intelligent statement

      It's called an illusory coloration.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  7. ReasonablePerson88

    Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, don't worry we have 2000 years of experience justifying the continuation of believing in childish myths and dismissing indefensible behavior by god, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, don't worry, people do not perish when they die, they continue to exist, YOU will continue to exist, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all is right in the world, sheep, fear not! blah, blah, blah, blah, etc., etc., etc...

    July 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • rational

      I bet the "bla, bla, bla" dude has his Masters, and BA. Its becoming the norm for the so called "intelligent MINDS " of this world, to make such stupid, dumb, retarded statements.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • fintastic

      Don't you mean.. "bah bah bah bah" ?

      July 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  8. Jake-413451

    "Let’s be clear: there are no easy answers to the deepest questions of suffering."
    Yes there are, you just don't like the answers, so you create a theology with layer upon layer of justification and obfuscation to avoid the simple answer.

    "He distinguished humankind from among his creation with faculties like reason, emotion, dexterity and choice. Scripture teaches that God made people in his image. Set apart from all the rest of his creatures"
    The humility of Christianity didn't take long to show up.
    A book written by men, tells us that men are above all other things in the universe. And we know it to be true because we have a book, written by men that reports everything within the book is true and comes straight from god. And men who write books never put lies in them.

    "commensurate ability to choose evil."
    An ability which only exists, if the pastor's utterly unsupported notions of a deity are true, because the deity in question created such abilities.

    "But Scripture also teaches that God is totally in control."
    There is that man-made book again. Pick one: free-will in a universe that operates according to laws which man have the capacity to learn about, model, and take into account to plan for the future; or, an arbitrary chaos with no free-will but only unknowable divine intervention which may make it rain frogs one day or water the next. One has centuries of evidence, the other has a book written by Iron and Bronze age men who oddly enough were said to be the representatives of that God on Earth, thus giving them a rather interesting position in society.

    "me suggest simply that God, in his sovereignty, has chosen to make our decisions meaningful."
    Or we adopt the much simpler exercise. The God in your mind exists only there. That other may report to believe in the same god doesn't matter, you have no more proof your god exists than Muslims that Allah, Jews for their God, ancient Greeks for their gods, Romans for theirs, Norsemen for theirs, etc....

    "But it is enough to know that God need not be responsible for them."
    We agree, that which does not exist can't be responsible.

    It is interesting you find god in the actions of men. But if you find god in the good men do as when they exercise their free will to do good then you are finding god only in their exercise of free will. You should just as readily find him in the evil men do, since he created both.

    At least according to your particular fiction.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • FreThinker

      Well said.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Linda

      Thank you for posting an intelligent message.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I thought atheists espouse that good and evil are man made creations.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • heavenSnot

      yes, well said

      July 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Jake-413451

      "I thought atheists espouse that good and evil are manmade creations. – Bill Deacon"

      We often do, I would agree the terms are manmade, if you would like to discuss what amounts to good and what amounts to evil that would be an interesting discussion, but has no bearing on my earlier response.

      My response is to address the logical inconsistency of the pastor. That Christian's beliefs tell them all of creation was made exactly to the specifications and in keeping with the will of their omnipotent perfect creator. If that is so then their creator did create a universe which allows for evil, something that would no exists otherwise, thus their creator did create evil regardless of how the pastor defines evil.

      But they don't want to credit their creator with that and instead say it only exists due to the creations. Creations again which are functioning according to the design their perfect, all-knowing creator made them. So that yes, his deity made Hitler, created every aspect of his character knowing full well in advance exactly what he would do.

      But let's not hold him responsible for his creations when they bad, but give him credit when they do good.

      The pastor looks to their deity as a toddler looks to their parent, with wonder and awe born from ignorance, and no critical thinking.

      July 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  9. MormonChristian

    I like what the pastor has said here. God let's us live our lives and invites us to choose light, love, things that lift us and make us better.

    God was also with His Son as He showed us how to live a life of service and sacrifice for others, as He took on Himself all our pain and suffering as well as the sorrow of our mistakes, that we might learn and have the opportunity to choose the good and improve. He gave HIs life and overcame the power of death that we (and all that died in Aurora that night) might live again.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • FreThinker

      Hey, MormonChristian, you really paid attention dueint your SLC brainwashing sessions, didn't you?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • FreThinker

      Hey, MormonChristian, you really paid attention during your SLC brainwashing sessions, didn't you?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  10. Will

    I don't know if this will help any of those who lost loved ones in Aurora but I lost my son a few years ago after he was swept over a cliff by an avalanche. I recorded the last conversation I had with him here: http://www.snugharborfoundation.org/category/sleeping_dust/36.html

    May God give you comfort and peace.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  11. FreThinker

    What a bunch of baloney. How many ways can a writer skirt the issue? "...we were endowed with the capacity to know our Creator and ennobled with the ability to choose him." So we have free will? But what about "The Divine Plan?" If there is such a plan, then he already knows what our choice will be, therefore there is no such thing as free will. Love me, or I will torment you forever. Not much of a choice even if free will existed.

    "He is all-powerful and all-knowing and he is willing and able to intervene in human events." Oh, really? So, if this god is all knowing, then he already knew from the moment the victims and the shooter were born that they would end up in this tragedy. He knew all along, and yet did absolutely nothing to stop it even though he is willing and able to do so.

    That makes him malevolent, not loving. It makes him precocious not benevolent.

    Religions and god worship is just a hold-over from the Iron Age. People who are members of the clergy are little more than snake oil salesmen who prey on the weaknesses of others and get paid for it.

    We should all be better off if the very idea of religious beliefs were dispensed with.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      I don't think you understand. God doesn't torment us. He will be far more forgiving than we are. If you have ever had a regret over a missed opportunity, that is the kind of "torment" we will feel for ourselves when we reflect on a life of choices that we would like to take again.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Will

      check out chaos theory. determinism and randomness at the same time. go figure.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Bishop Hairy Palms

      Well said.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • FreThinker

      I absolutely agree with you, MormonChristian. God doesn't torment us because god is a figment of man's imagination.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      This thread illustrates the circular logic fallacy so often laid on believers. Poster number one posits that God cannot exist because he inflicts torment. When offered a response, he twists it back into his own statement that saying God doesn't torment us because he doesn't exist. It seems clever but it isn't. I wish the logic police from the atheist side were as diligent with their own as they are with believers. It would eliminate a lot of fallacious arguments

      July 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Bill Deacon is an instance of a Begging the Question fallacy and contains non sequitur elements.


      July 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  12. Child of the King, the ONLY God, Jesus Christ

    This article was about where God was, NOT if there is a God, or not, and every time any articles like this come up, people (atheist, naturalist) start the debate about whether there is a God or not It’s a shame that soooo many people who commented, say there is no God, have no proof, no rational to back up there statements It’s a shame, because these people are suppose to be intelligent, University degree’s, BA’s, Masters etc. If a person is going To say something sooo foolish as “there is no God” that same person (if they claim to be intelligent) would have to investigate, BOTH sides of the coin Before they come to a conclusion, and then state “WHY”. But you can be sure, that most, if not all the arrogant Atheists with their smart, and ignorant remarks Have NEVER done this kind of research. Yet, they say there’s no God. If one of the most prominent Atheist Richard Dawkins can Admit (because he did research the evidence) that Jesus Christ did walk the face of the earth, did do AMAZING things, and claimed to be God in the flesh (but he ignores the evidence regarding his resurrection) then He has a better chance than all of you Atheist who continue to make unintelligent comments about the Creator of the Universe. If he can admit that Jesus Christ was alive, did do miracles, then the INTELLIGENT thing to do, would be to investigate the evidence that would prove that he did, or did not do the things that are recorded in the bible.

    VERY few people do this, and when they do, because the evidence is overwhelming that What was written in the Bible regarding Jesus Christ is 100% factual, they STILL don’t want to believe so they again look for more excuses All one has to look at is “Fine Tuning” for anyone with their head screwed on right, to know that there IS a GOD, and his name Is Jesus Christ. The stories about Alexander the great were written almost 500 years after he died, yet people don’t question its authenticity. The Scriptures were written as early as 35 AD ( 2 years after Jesus was crucified, and rose from the dead 1 Corinthians 15 Verifies this) Yet, People dispute the Gospels are fake. Very, very sad. ALL the evidence points towards intelligence, and Atheist keep saying “ Well, we can’t prove what we are saying is true, but one day we will, so until then, there is no God” VERY, VERY, VERY silly, and these are suppose to be the “intelligent minds” of today? Very sad!

    July 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • plaster city

      A valid answer to "where was god" is that there is no god. The question "where was god" would be steeped in arrogance if it could not also address this valid answer.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Madtown

      "If Jesus Christ is my God, how come I've never heard of him?"

      – signed, an Australian aboriginal tribesman, who's never been exposed to christianity

      July 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • John

      A lot of us have fantasies that help us get through the day.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Ozzy

      Wow...the amount of oxymorons and hypocrisy in this single post is kind of astounding. Firstly, Richard Dawkins never admitted that Christ actually performed miracles, he accepts the possibility that there was a historical Jesus, that perhaps claimed to be the son of God, but was in no way actually divine. Second...EVIDENCE for the resurrection? Pray tell, what evidence is there for resurrection?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • rAmen

      100% accurate? is that why your skydaddy's kid was born in the historical Bermuda Triangle of a empire-wide census that never happened and the 10 year gap between Quinarius was the governor of Syria and Herold the Great was still alive? lol

      July 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      Dawkins never said jesus performed any miracles, that is actually a lie, which is a non-no remember?

      as for Alexander the great......the minute anyone in the histories claims that Alexander walked on water and claim it is true, then you let us know, else until then there is no comparison.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Levy214

      The burden of proof is yours! It is your claim, not the Aethist. Atheist willing on factual demonstrable proof. Can you demonstate that the invisible snowman does not exists?

      July 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot


      I really don't know where you apologists get that 400 (you even say – 500!) year gap for writings about Alexander the Great. Please ditch that line. There were many concurrent writings about him, as well as in the years following his death:

      And you know what... even if there weren't real-time writings about him, it makes little difference if he existed or not, except to hero worshippers and purist historians (not demeaning historians, it's just a separate discipline). If any wisdom that is attributed to him is verified to be useful – that's all we need.

      It's the same with any practical wisdom that is attributed to Jesus. It's the valid wisdom that matters, not the man. Again, there is not a whit of verified evidence for the supernatural events attributed to him (or anyone else), nor that his alleged supernatural preachings are true.

      July 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • ME II

      @Child of the King, the ONLY God, Jesus Christ,
      "If [Richard Dawkins] can admit that Jesus Christ was alive, did do miracles, then ..."
      Sorry, but Dawkins never said Jesus did miracles, please cite your sources. "Amazing" and miraculous are not the same.

      "...the evidence is overwhelming that What was written in the Bible regarding Jesus Christ is 100% factual..."
      Please present your evidence.

      “Fine Tuning”
      This is not an objective measure.

      "The Scriptures were written as early as 35 AD..."
      There is little, if any, contemporaneous coroboration of Jesus' life.

      "The stories about Alexander the great were written almost 500 years after he died, yet people don’t question its authenticity."
      Alexander the Great is coroborated by many contemporaneous writings: "Contemporaries who wrote accounts of his life include Alexander's campaign historian Callisthenes; Alexander's generals Ptolemy and Nearchus; Aristobulus, a junior officer on the campaigns; and Onesicritus, Alexander's chief helmsman.[1]." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great_in_historiography) Although, apparently few remain fully intact.
      There are also artifacts, such as coins minted during his reign with his image, hierglyphics of his name from that time, sarcophagi, mosaics, etc. Oh and around twenty cities that he founded and named after himself.

      July 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  13. RobinMO

    Let's see if I understand this: There is an all poweful, all knowing, all loving "god" who created us and infinitely cares about us. He has the power to provide all humans with perfect happiness, but instead he decides to test us and allows terrible things to happen to creatures whom he "loves." What a scary fantasy. How can anyone live with the idea of such a perverted "god?" If I believed this nonsense, I would be absolutely miserable. It certainly makes more sense to believe that humans can use our intelligence and other resources and skills to improve our lives rather than to conjure up some demonic absolute power that terrorizes us.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • James PDX

      Not to mention that this god allegedly gives us freewill only to punish us for using it in any way he does not approve of. Slightly hypocritical, if you ask me.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      I think it's pretty awesome that we have our freedom to choose. But that means there is also risk and the possibility of wrong choices. Would you rather have intervention every time you did something? This way we can learn and have the chance to reach our full potential. God doesn't "punish" us in the end. We may feel regret over conscious choices we made that we would like to do over. We choose in the end to go to a place to be with people that are like us.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • James PDX

      MormonChristian, a perfect god would not cause pain, suffering and death if it was not necessary, am I right? A perfect and all-powerful god could also create us already at our full potential, right? Therefore, either god is NOT perfect and all-powerful, or enjoying the pain and suffering of others is part of perfection and perfection isn't what we thought it was. There is no way to rationalize the Christian god, which isn't even the Christian god. It's the Jewish god, as proven in the Old Testament where you will see that he plays favorites with his children and chose them over every other people. Only when the Christians wanted a ready made god did he become so loving.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Earl

      Christians bleed and die like every one else, however, we have a hope. Our body is just a `tent' that we live in. God created us to be eternal beings, so when that `tent' is destroyed by disease, bullets or old age, it is only the `tent' that is destroyed, the real `you' keeps living and the question is where do you want to spend that eternity. So it again comes to making a desicion. America has been making some very strident desicions to erase God from every aspect of American life, so don't ask stupid questions like, "where was God", when you are doing everything possible to `run Him of'f'.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      James, I submit that perfection and love are not what you may think they are. Perhaps you should give that some more thought.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  14. Stan Laughlfer

    This is the dumbest article I have ever read. God is responsible for all the good and is everywhere where there is good, but when it comes to death and carnage, "it is enough to know that God need not be responsible for them."

    Enough for people who believe in fairy tales, maybe. Your tooth fairy is a joke.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      No, the article is about the choices we make: choosing love or hate, etc. What have you chosen?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • James PDX

      That's right. God doesn't give you terminal cancer. But if you're the 1 in 1000 who live through it, it's because God loved you more than the other 999 people he let die.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      @James PDX

      No, God loves all 1,000 people the same. Why do we see death or suffering as punishment? Seems there is also great room for learning and growth – IF we continue to live after this life and take our experiences (both good and bad) with us. God is not someone that goes around dispensing cures and curses. He did provide for us a life and the power to direct that life. And He overcame death that we might live on with the things we learn.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • James PDX

      Actually, MormonChristian, if you read the Old Testament, that's exactly what he did. Cures for the Jews and curses for everyone else. God plays favorites with his children, and not even on merit, but rather on something as arbitrary as who their parents were. I'll pass on that kind of father.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • ml


      What about the people the dead leave behind? What about their suffering? My brother dies young. He left behind a wife and young child, not to mention me, my brother and our parents. what about our suffering?

      July 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  15. Priest

    1Peter 3:14-17 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who reviled your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right than than for doing what is wrong.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Will


      July 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • FreThinker

      Why do people post snippets of scripture as some kind of proof to convince others? You can't convince anyone using a book of fairy tales.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Maybe he's not trying to prove anything to you. Maybe he is just offering scripture as a statement pertinent to the discussion. The article isn't about whether God exists or not. It is about where he abides.

      July 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • ml

      The above scripture speaks of Morality. Religion does not have a corner on morality.

      July 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  16. REG

    There is no way to rationalize the contradictions in every book of the Bible...and this is another example. Cheers to those whose faith lights and guides their lives....it's their personal space of peace and explanation. But don't try to sell "We don't know but will spin" to everyone else.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  17. Rob

    OK CNN, it's not 2012. Stop giving mythology-believing nut-jobs free publicity already.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Hey, hey! Hold on there pilgrim! CNN wouldn't be anywhere near as much fun without this venue for debating Christians.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      It's not 2012? Can you prove that?

      July 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  18. tony

    Genesis 1:14.

    Blessed are the Astrophysicists, for they shall watch the signs in the heavens and learn to understand the Universe.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  19. Twolf

    Well said Pastor. And the Darkness that is so Dark nowadays, Will see a BRIGHTER LIGHT SHINING ....... after the hurt and after the story fades, JESUS WILL BE SEEN IN THE JOY OF THE FAMILIES...... That have put their FAITH in HIM. God Bless the Families, and the Community that were impacted by this tragedy, and may HE see yoiu through this valley. Knowing that there will be more mountain tops.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • James PDX

      But who is going to bless the planetful of people God murdered before setting his favorite incestuous family to repopulating the Earth?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • tower

      Most of us outgrow fairy tales and start to deal with reality. What happened to you?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  20. John

    Which god? There are so many to choose from.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Earl

      That is like saying, "I don't want to wash, there are so many kinds of soap, I don't know what to choose".

      July 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Your comment only makes sense, Earl if the belief in god was, in itself, beneficial. Pick one, any one, because faith itself will do you good.

      But belief doesn't spawn goodness. It only spawns belief. Goodness is still the responsibility of the individual, regardless what they believe, or fail to believe.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • ml

      No Earl, it is not like that.

      July 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
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About this blog

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