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'Where was God in Aurora?' comments show Internet as church for atheists
Some atheists may ask questions on the Internet that they wouldn't have asked in church.
August 1st, 2012
12:03 PM ET

'Where was God in Aurora?' comments show Internet as church for atheists

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The Internet has become the de facto global church for atheists, agnostics and other doubters of God, who of course don’t have bricks-and-mortar churches in which to congregate.

We see this phenomenon in motion every day on the CNN Belief Blog, where atheists/agnostics/humanists are among the most zealous commenters.

Recent string of posts around the question of “Where was God in Aurora?” (such as this and this) drew especially large waves of comments that show atheists are using the Internet to commune with one another and to confront religious believers in ways that they don’t usually do in church.

Atheists and other secularists have offline organizations that stage in-person meetings - the Secular Student Alliance has seen its number of campus chapters quadruple in the last five years, to 368 - but the Internet has probably played a bigger role in the rise of the so-called New Atheism. The movement’s adherents evangelize their godlessness, just as many religious folks evangelize their God, often taking to the Belief Blog to do so.

“A lot of millennials who are coming of age have found that the Internet is a fantastic place to talk about their doubt,” says Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance. “Before the Internet, there was no place for young people to do that. The only place to go was really church, and that wasn’t always a welcoming place.

“But they can go online and discuss these ideas without being judged by friends and families,” Galef says.

For closeted atheists, the Internet’s anonymity is a big draw. A coalition of national atheist groups recently launched a program to transition doubting clergy to lives of open atheism by first having ministers come out anonymously in a closed online community.

Plenty of other atheists, though, are using the Internet to connect with real, named people through Facebook and other online social networks.

“It’s the ability to access a larger community, particularly for people growing up in religiously conservative areas,” Galef says. “There is nobody they can point to to discuss their atheism or their doubts about the Bible or their morality, and the Internet provides that.”

On Sunday, a guest piece from a Colorado pastor argued that it’s possible to reconcile the idea of a sovereign God with the existence of evil and tragedy. The post has drawn 4,239 comments as of Wednesday morning, largely from atheists.

One of those comments - a letter from God penned by an atheist commenter named Colin - caught fire online. Here’s how his letter opens:

"Dear Christians:

"God here. I thought I would take the time to personally explain my absence in the Aurora shootings. While I was at it, I thought I would also explain my absence during every murder, massacre and crime that has ever taken place in world history, and in every war, in every famine, drought and flood.

"You see, I do not exist. I never have. Did it really make sense to you that I would create an entire universe with billions of billions of planets and wait about 13,700,000,000 years just so I could focus on a few Jews from Palestine about 2,000 years ago while ignoring the rest of the 200,000,000 people on the planet at the time? Did I make those few Jews or did those few Jews make me?"

The letter has been posted on reddit, where it attracted another 1,000-plus comments. (Warning: The reddit comments includes foul language.)

The vast majority of comments come from sympathetic atheists and other secularists (the discussion is reddit's atheism thread), a striking example of such folks doing church without God online. Many of those comments are deeply personal, confessional and poignant.

Here are five of the best ones. Some respond to Colin’s letter from God, others to the Colorado pastor who wrote for the Belief Blog last weekend.

1. CarbonEmitter

"I grew up religious and decided to be agnostic (as an) undergraduate. Even though I am now in my late 20s, I still feel slightly guilty because my parents try to ram religion down my throat. My mom converted to my dad's religion (from Christianity to Islam) right before having a double lung transplant in 1995. They are now super-religious and attribute her miraculous recovery to her conversion.

"Reading posts like these remind me of how ridiculous religion is and help relieve my guilt. Thank you /r/athiesm."

2. tazadar

"I like what Carl Sagan said about reassuring fables.

" 'The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life's meaning. We long for a parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable.' "

3. RyGuy2012

"You know, it really irks me to no end to read the article from the pastor, as he claims to not have an answer for why God didn't prevent the Aurora shooting, but then claims to know for sure that God is there when people come to lend their support and sympathies for the shooting victims.

"I just can't wrap my mind around this logic. Like, the pastor must find some other explanation why people are good and do good things. It can't be that people can just be good on their own. Because, apparently (our) natural normal state is to be completely uncaring and disregarding? It's just such a very sad and low opinion to have of your fellow man.

4. funfetti_cookies

"Of course, he says that. You have to scare the people before giving them a reason to listen - "I held her hand as she died." What a great way to start your article. Also don't forget to mention Columbine so people remember that tragedy as well, but then go on to explain why God still exists and this is all part of his plan. Religion is nothing more but a scare tactic to control the masses.

5. ConstipatedNinja

"I don't share this much, but I was raped twice by my pastor when I was 6. And by I don't share this much, I mean that even my own parents don't know (as a side note, he's long since dead, so there's no sense in bringing it up). I had to sit in the same room (with) him for three hours every Sunday while he told everyone - including me - how a decent human being should act. I had to for four entire years before my family moved to a different state.

"When it first happened, I had no idea what was done. I was too young to understand. ... It's indescribable. You're told all this time about this ever-loving being that made you and has planned out your entire life. You're told that he'll protect you when you need it. You're told that if you're good, then he'll be good to you. So obviously, I wasn't good. I wasn't good enough. I was created and the creator of all things looked down upon me and decided that I was a bad egg. Do you know how rough that is for a 7-year-old? I still have problems with self-esteem. …"

That comment, which has been truncated above, provoked an outpouring of sympathy and support on reddit, including this comment:

rumpelstiltskin1

"This stuff is why I love Reddit. Yeah we are a room full of strangers but when it comes down to it we're a community. I love reading the stories of others and reading the heartfelt replies. I love that anyone can express themselves honestly and it will be well-received here (usually). And although this one is a little cheeky, I love that I can learn valuable life lessons of self-acceptance and being able to move on from a guy named ConstipatedNinja. Thank you for sharing your story, and I admire the willingness to share such a personal story; it's truly inspirational."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Colorado • Violence

soundoff (4,699 Responses)
  1. Karloff

    "church for atheists," "evangelize their godlessness"–Mr. Gilgoff can't even make his comments about atheism without using religious terms. Seems he's stuck in his god delusion even when he writes about the "godless."

    August 2, 2012 at 5:21 am |
    • Hobbit

      How else would he talk about a group who profess their belief with such religious zeal and conviction? Do Athiests BELIEVE that god does not exist? Or do they KNOW that god does not exist? This is actually nothing more than arguing semantics, of course. The Emperor still has no clothes.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:53 am |
    • Damocles

      @Hobbit

      Zeal can be non-religious.

      You are right though, the most either side can do is 'believe' they are right. Which is why I tend to fight against what is done in the name of that belief, thats where all the problems are.

      August 2, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • Hobbit

      Stay cool, Damocles...gotta go, its nearly quittin' time...good to have a civil discussion with an open minded person.

      August 2, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • Damocles

      @Hobbit

      Have a good one. Likewise, good to have a chat instead of an argument.

      August 2, 2012 at 6:27 am |
  2. Damocles

    My apologies, internet malfunction.

    Love, hate, compassion exsist because we say it does, because thats what we call these things. These things exsist in the animal kingdom of which we are a part of. Dolphins show compassion towards fellow dolphins, a dog or cat will show love/affection towards one another and too us, a fellow animal. I sure do want to feel special, I really do, but I can not bring myself to be glassy-eyed enough, or suspend my reason enough to believe that there is some grand plan. Let's say that I am a believer and simply do not want to live for all eternity, would I have that option?

    August 2, 2012 at 5:15 am |
    • Hobbit

      Of course animals have feelings...and those feelings Exist...and not because we choose to" label" them...They are the necessary result of consciousess becoming incarnate. Of course you will not live forever...impermanance is quite obviously a quality of the universe. Not everyone who believes in the "divine" believes we will be floating around stroking harps in the sky for eternity.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:30 am |
    • Damocles

      Yes, see that's my whole point. We don't do anything all that different from animals, therefor we arent really 'special', just a more or less (depending on how you want to look at it) evolved species of animal.

      The whole 'would I get to choose to not live for an eternity' means that if I'm a believer in god and do the things I'm supposed to do.... when I die and stand before him, would I have the choice to forsake his gift?

      From an evolutionary standpoint, it could be argued that 'feelings' are not so good. Now granted, I don't claim to know the minds of insects, but these things have been around for millions of years and have done quite well for themselves. Could it be that emotions lead to demise?

      August 2, 2012 at 5:43 am |
    • WASP

      @damo: i like the whole "could emotions lead to demise" it struck me as odd because theists speek highly of "god's" love and live in terror of "god's" wrath. so how come they don't understand that a "perfect being" can't be perfect with emotions due to emotions are unreliable and at most times dangerous. just a quirky thing i noticed. lol

      August 2, 2012 at 6:07 am |
    • Damocles

      @WASP

      I agree. An 'all everything' style deity would encompass... well everything. It couldn't love w/o hating and vice versa. This would lead to one of two things. A very insane deity constantly battling with itself or a truly neutral deity who couldn't make a descision for fear of contradicting itself. Neither would bode well for anything that deity would create.

      August 2, 2012 at 6:12 am |
  3. Name*Chedar

    Consciousness contain the evil and good. If the evil overwhelmed the good, this incidence at aurora is the results. Whether Holmes understand what he was doing..When that moment arises and the time is ripe for all the victims to be presence, Band! the karma rises.

    August 2, 2012 at 4:56 am |
  4. Daniel

    If this being does exist, he has much more going on than to potty train a arrogant species who think they are the sole reason for existence. I will love it when ET finally appears, all the Judaic utter nonsense will be so in the light.

    August 2, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  5. Hobbit

    Have any ot the Athiests here ever read a story by Mark Twain called "The Mysterious Stranger"? This was the last story Twain ever wrote. He was an Athiest by this time. He was old and bitter because of numerous personal tragedies and busniess failures that haunted him. But even so, he saw the folly of any altrustic "god" trying to construct a "perfect" universe where suffering does not occur. The logical result is more monsterous by far than the imperfect world in which we live. The argument that no higher consciousness can possibly exist because there is suffering and chaotic change in the world is not philosophically valid. It is the argument of a dissatisfied child.

    August 2, 2012 at 4:42 am |
  6. Snowdog

    The atheists on this blog are 100% sure without a doubt, proof positive that there is no God. Wow, I wish I was that smart and all knowing.

    August 2, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • Coach

      The only logical answer I can find is that we humans seem to rationalize what we can't wrap our minds around fully. The sun, moon, and stars were worshipped as deities. Even though logically I know they don't exist, I believe in a fictional crew who flies around space trying to advance the interests of the Federation because exploration is the theme of human existence. I believe in this fiction because it taught me to be a good person, to work hard and to do the right thing. I don't think anyone wants to disprove God's existence to be proven 'right.' It's more of a search for truth and you can't call it truth until there is empirical data to back it up.

      Find a way to measure/quantify the soul. If we place a human consciousness and a computer in a box and they both respond to my questions, and I can't tell who is responding, aren't both alive/conscious? One a conscious presence in a brain's grey matter, the other a huge amalgamation of codes created BY that same grey matter. Do both have a soul? Now, convince me logically and I will believe. Do not use the word faith.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:47 am |
    • Get educated

      You are lumping all atheists in one basket. There are gnostic atheists and agnostic atheists. As an agnostic atheist, it means that it cannot be known if God exists or not but without any proof, I choose not to believe. Gnostic atheists claim to know God does not exist but I don't see how that can be possible. This is why I am an agnostic atheist. There are also gnostic theists and agnostic theists.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:07 am |
    • Coach

      GE – Hey look, facts! Thanks for teaching something. I always called myself a straight agnostic with atheistic tendencies. I truly think the equation is bigger than I am and full understanding may be beyond us. I do not believe anyone can 'know' for sure God does or does not exist. We can't even define what makes gravity occur yet and we can FEEL it and test it. My religion: pursuit of truth. Maybe God will tap me on the shoulder and say "BOO!" the day we discover Gravitons and understand them. 😉

      August 2, 2012 at 5:15 am |
    • Reason

      wow arent YOU the smart one. Except you got it COMPLETELY wrong smart guy.

      As an atheist, I dont claim that I KNOW anything doesnt exist – but I have no evidence that God DOES exist – and those claiming he does arent proving their case – so I choose to not believe in God – the same as I choose not to believe that you like having s e x with bullfrogs. But can I say that I know for ABSOLUTE SURE that you dont? no, no I cant.

      Dont try to put claims in my mouth I never made, and I dont have to know something doesnt exist to not believe in it.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • WASP

      @snowy:The theists on this blog are 100% sure without a doubt, proof positive that there is a God.........and they know exactly which one it is. Wow, I wish I was that smart and all knowing. :p

      August 2, 2012 at 6:17 am |
    • IslandAtheist

      I'm only 99.9% sure, get your facts straight.

      August 2, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  7. Damocles

    To Higgs-Boson:

    Its funny, the few times I went to church as a kid, the big bang was never mentioned. The story was always 7 days and it meant exactly that, 7 days. It irks me to know end that certain believers try to hammer the round peg of science into the square hole of their beliefs. 'Oh 7 days could really mean 13 billion years'. Ah, no.... its a copout at the very least.

    To me the very fact that there are so many stars/galaxies/planets is a huge argument against an ultimate creator. I mean, why do all of that? If your overriding goal was to make 2 people to bask in your glory on 1 planet, there is no real need for all the rest.

    August 2, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • Snowdog

      Wow, how absolutely ignorant and sad. Are you going to say that to God when you meet him face to face. You will,be trembling on your knees.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:21 am |
    • Steven

      Early Christian writers said that the "days" could have been ages. IN fact the word "day" in the Greek language of the bible used by the early Church, can mean "age" or "era," just as it does in English. St Basil the Great (4th century) wrote a book called the Hexaemeron, about the six days of creation. And he said they were ages, not 24-hour days. So it's not jsut modern people trying to "explain away" science.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • Damocles

      @snowdog

      Am I going to say what to god?

      @Steven

      Ok, so it could mean 6 eras or 6 ages and because science tends to say the universe is nearly 14 billion years old, 6 eras or ages now mean billions of years? Still doesn't sit quite right with me.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:34 am |
    • Bob Bales

      If an ultimate creator does exists, then almost by definition He knows more than you do and has reasons and plans beyond what you would. It is not logical to conclude that God does not exist because He is claimed to have done something you do not understand.

      "If your overriding goal was to make 2 people to bask in your glory on 1 planet, there is no real need for all the rest." This may be true, but the existence of "all the rest" suggests that God does not exist, but that the overriding goal was different.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      But it is very logical to conclude that no gods exist because there is not a shred of factual, objective, verifiable or independent evidence to support their existence.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • Damocles

      @Bob

      You may be right, but then you are moving away from most believers idea that they are special, that humans are the end result of gods love. If a 'higher power' actually did make everything, then we would not be all that special. Let me ask you this: If there is another species out there are you willing to consider that maybe they are actually following gods will and he has no further use for us?

      August 2, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • Coach

      Snowdog – The ignorance comes from you. You go immediately to your reason for believing – the fear of being judged. I refuse to buy into any religion or organization that uses scare tactics to encourage belief. One night at summer camp after a particularly evangelical and brimstone filles sermon, 2 dozen campers had nightmares about Hell. This is terrorism IN ITS PUREST FORM. Evangelical religions should be banned and scoffed at. Discover your own truth and assign your OWN MEANING to it.

      And this meeting you speak of... Bring on that conversation and we'll see who hits their knees.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:22 am |
  8. Steven

    What do you mean "Where was God in Aurora?" As though he was absent from Aurora! He wasn't absent. He's everywhere. He's even in hell. God is everywhere! He's present when people do good, and he's present when people do evil. There is nowhere, and no state, from which he is absent. Got that?

    August 2, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • gager

      LOL

      August 2, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • Steven

      God allowed what happened in Aurora to happen because the only way he could have prevented the evil would have been to take away the killer's freedom of choice. Think about that. God would have had to turn the killer into a person without choice or freedom. And since the question could be asked about any bad event, God would have to do the same everywhere, in order to prevent all evil. He would have to remove our freedom, and the result would be that we could only do "good" – but the "good" we would do would not even be "good" because the action of a robot is neither "good" nor "virtuous." It is totally programmed.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • Coach

      To believe in something that has no duplicable findings, no empirical evidence of existence is illogical. Saying "I feel i"t is not empirical data.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:34 am |
    • Coach

      "God would have to do the same everywhere, in order to prevent all evil."

      Indeed Steven. WHY WOULD A GOOD GOD NOT WANT TO PREVENT EVIL?!?!?

      August 2, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  9. Joe Zamecki

    Just like on 9/11 and on so many other occasions, we ask "Where was your god?" and get anger in response. Not any information about gods. All they have to do is produce their god – and that's the last thing they want to do. It's the only thing they don't try. Except in the movies. Atheists are just people who expect results from religion. How ironic that the most devout religious people simply don't expect results from their religion. Feeling good is good enough for them. Meanwhile, caring people inquire into these blatant schemes, and the question remains: Where was your god? (I have an answer...on the throne, all alone, as it should be.)

    August 2, 2012 at 3:30 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      A man walks into a theater armed to the teeth. More firepower than most soldiers in service right now. He proceeds to fire into a packed crowd. Most theaters, such as the one in Aurora, can seat 300 to 400 patrons. Into all of this, he fires and only hits 70, killing only 12. The guy had more bullets than people.

      Question is this, as person of Faith, can I say … when adding up all of the factors, such as the amount of people vs the firepower capabilities of the gunman.... that under my Faith and Belief...I could count that God was in that Theater?

      I went to the theaters a few days later and the theaters here are similar to the Aurora theater. Stadium seating and the only way out would have been down towards the gunman. Clear shots.

      Also, after all these years I can also say that the Faithful now expect the Atheist to prove their claim of there not being a God or Gods. Joe, you seem very educated... can you offer proof of God's non-existence?

      Joe, the thing, maybe you do not understand is that most Faithful do not expect to live forever on this planet or to even expect a perfect harmonious life here on Earth. When Atheist ask the Faithful where was God in horrific acts such as 9/11 and Auora, I know I always ask do Atheist believe that once you walk the path of Faith that horrible things will not happen to you. Where is the scripture that promised a life without tribulation once you joined the Faith?

      Heck, watch a few episodes of Little House on the Prairie...

      August 2, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • Damocles

      @Mark

      Answer me this: If 12 people dying is proof of god, how many people would have had to die for you to not believe god was there?

      In other words, is there a body count high enough, in any disaster, that would make you say 'hey, maybe there isn't a godplan'?

      August 2, 2012 at 4:23 am |
  10. john316

    Why do Atheists ask for God when they don't even believe in Him? I don't understand this logic. Yes this event was tragic yet the nonbelievers are quick to ask "Where is God?" in times of tragedy. Is it a good question to ask? Yes. I am glad at least you're asking. I have no idea who wrote the so-called God letter but maybe some information may help to better understand. First, I am asking if one believes in choice? its a simple yes or no question. not asking for long answers just either answer "Yes I believe in choice" or "No I don't believe in choice".
    For those who answer "Yes I do believe in choice:, then why blame God for what this person did? You may say "We'll God could have stopped Him before this since He is supposed to know everything.". You are right. God could have stopped Him. You are now asking "Then why didn't he stop it if he is real?God could have stopped every murder, war,etc." You have made a good question. want to know the answer? Well it ends with choice. here's why. now remember this is for the group who said "Yes i believe in choice". Now i know not everyone believes in the Bible.its a given. Going back to Adam and Eve, God gave them everything available to them for food but He said(paraphrasing here) "just dont eat of this one tree or else you'll die".thats it. well we know what happened next. Now at THAT time He could have stopped them from going forward with that decision. Here's the problem though. If He took the choice away, then one can't make a choice at all. Keep in mind that God is consistent and never changes. If he took away the "evil intentions" of one person, then He has to take it away from everyone. He is a fair God. i know you may say " How come God just take away the thought of doing evil? Then that guy wouldnt have gone and done that evil act in the first place?" good question. Problem with that too.heres why. How would you define evil? Your definition of evil is most likely not the same definition of evil according to God.Ill explain. In the Bible(again not everyone believes in the Bible) a murder is when one takes a like from another. God put this in the commandments "Thou shall not murder"(Exodus 20:13).murder is different then killing by the way but thats another story.Jesus said that if you have evil thoughts for even your brother then you have commited murder of the heart(1 John 3:15) and since scripture says that we all have evil intentions in us.Yes I said ALL which means everyone including me (Matthew 15:19). So if you want God to take out evil thoughts, He would have to take us out or destroy us.See God doesnt want to do that even though He has every right too. It says that He desires everyone to be saved(Romans 9;2 Peter 3:9). I want to point out though that God has set a time to rid of wickedness.i could go on but I have to move on to the group who say "No I dont believe in choice"
    To the group that says "No I dont believe in choice". if you had no choice then you all would be Christians. Thats the beauty of grace. God has placed it in your hands to either choose life or death. He has placed it in your hands to either choose good or evil. He has placed it in your hands to either believe in Him or reject Him. All Im saying is are you willing to live with that choice for eternity?

    August 2, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • Damocles

      First off, yes I believe in choice. Now then, lets use the whole parent and child relationship to sort of answer your post.

      I raise my kid to be the best they can be. I teach them right from wrong, to have respect for themselves and to respect others. Do they listen? Most of the time, yes. Do I punish them when they do wrong? Of course. Now heres the tricky part... the punishments I mete out to my child are in proportion to the wrong that they did.

      I do not go on a killing spree 4 states away because my child forgot to hang up some clothes. I do not invent plagues and set them against the world because my child violated curfew. I do not punish the neighbors child because my child forgot to put the milk back in the fridge. I do not tell them they are going to spend an eternity in suffering because they made a choice I don't agree with. I don't tell them they got into that car accident because they did something to offend me. I do not send people to my child to tell them that I love them, if I can't do that on my own, I'm a pretty poor parent.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:50 am |
  11. Damocles

    @zentanith

    If I may ask without sounding rude or hateful... what research did you do that lead you to believe there was a deity?

    August 2, 2012 at 3:21 am |
    • Hobbit

      If you are asking no one in particular...what do you mean by diety?

      August 2, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • Damocles

      Was asking zentanith, but we can say deity = god if you want.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:28 am |
    • Hobbit

      Consciousness is very difficult to explain on a simply mechanistic level. In fact, "scientifically" it cannot be said to exist at all...the latest research suggests strongly that it is a quantum phenomenon. It is apparently something that occurs in the flux between the quantum world and the "mundane" world of classical physics. There is real hard scientific research being done on this by Stuart Hamerof and others. It is difficult ot see how this can be true unless consciousness is somehow "hard-wired" into the fabric of the universe...

      August 2, 2012 at 3:49 am |
    • Damocles

      So if its hard-wired into the universe, wouldn't that mean that everything has a concious? I mean since it would have to be written on the atoms themselves and everything is made up of atoms. Or is it the right combination at the right time at the right temp etc etc.

      But zen said he KNEW there was a god. Did he find god? Poke it with a stick, draw some blood to do a DNA analysis? What?

      August 2, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Hobbit

      I don't know what Zen said or believes, but I do know that many Native Amercan religions teach that everything DOES have consciousness. I think that you could argue that this idea is also fully compatable with both the Hindu and Buddhist systems as well. Don't laugh too hard. The idea is that consciousness exists...and that evolution by natural selection produces organisms that are capable of expressing this consciousness. It is undeniable that we live in a Cosmos where the POTENTIAL for consciousness DOES exist. Is this simply an accident? Or is it a fundamental quality of the universe?

      August 2, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • Damocles

      Being part Native American, I have great respect for their beliefs. Just because the universe has potential for consciousness to spring up still does not mean it has to be divinely ordained.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • Hobbit

      I would argue that the universal potentiality for consciousness...and thus feelings, emotions...love...hate....sorrow....joy...faith...hope...compassion...all those things that because they cannot be measured cannot be said to exist...are proof positive that there is a quality in the Cosmos that steers us towards an appreciation for life that supercedes the mechanistic explanation necessitated by the denial of even the possibility of higher consciousness. You can call it what you will.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:00 am |
  12. Lucifer's Evil Twin™

    Well this has been a hoot... Going to sleep now...

    August 2, 2012 at 3:08 am |
  13. Hobbit

    This article was written because of a massive backlash of negative comments received about a pastor who tried to address the problem of evil. Many self proclaimed Athiests did not like what he had to say. The problem of evil is one of the most basic philosophical/ theological questions. Paradise Lost, Moby Dick and The Bridge of San Luis Rey are just a few of the great literary works that address it. There are countless others. It is a profound question that some of the greatest thinkers in history have grappled with. I can't think of any who have addressed it with the certainty and conviction of the self proclaimed Athiests on this thread. It is as if they have never heard of the problem of evil before and are insulted that something so easily dismissed can even be discussed ...amazing...

    August 2, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • Damocles

      Good and evil are in the eye of the beholder. I prefer to say there are actions and consequences. What is good/acceptable one day is evil/wrong the next.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:20 am |
  14. oh please

    fools outnumber those who can actually think.

    thats why so many believe in god.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Can you get a better handle on basic sentence structure and grammar before attempting a flame war?

      August 2, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  15. Edwin

    I cannot abide evangelicals of any creed - religious or non-religious or anti-religious. Although I am essentially atheistic, I find the preachy atheists on this site to be quite annoying - perhaps more so than the preachy christians, because at least they do not give my belief system a bad name...

    August 2, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Its being in the middle and as much as Atheist and the Faithful point to their numbers as validations, I believe that more and more from both sides are filling in the middle ground. You can't live with that much hatred for the other side and after a while the words of the extremes on both sides slowly begin to sound very similar.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:42 am |
  16. supdude

    For believers and non believers alike, check out Itunes, Reasonable Faith Podcast with William Lane Craig, scroll down to Problem of Evil (pt. 1) 8/6/2007, and start from there. There will be things to consider from both sides in hopes to take this out of the elementary discussion that always occurs when something like this happens.

    -Peace

    August 2, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      Craig is a known and discredited ID tool, so no I will not go to iTunes.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:58 am |
  17. shawbrooke

    Only in America do people expect to live Godlessly and then have God rescue them and everyone else from the consequences. When consequences come, American atheists also chime in to say that if God existed he'd enable community and individual disregard by rescuing people from the consequences of their actions. It's a "prince-princess" culture, what can we say. Terribly indulgent and irresponsible.

    In the rest of the world, like Africa, South America, the Far East and Canada, people realize that God gave people free will (people of faith) or that people have free will (atheists, agnostics). Christians there think that bad things happen because of people's decisions to move away from God, and because death is part of the human condition. God is understood to stand with the suffering, one of the messages of the cross. Following God enables the faithful to have fuller lives, tocope with the stresses and perils of life and to face death with the expectation that God is there. Some Americans believe that too.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • Observer

      "American atheists also chime in to say that if God existed he'd enable community and individual disregard by rescuing people from the consequences of their actions"

      So 70 people deserved to be shot.

      Your statement is absolutely mindless.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • Darryl

      Shawbrooke....tell me, how is it you know you have free will? Because you were told? Hmm. Yes, explain and explain clearly, please.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • tallulah13

      I would never say that if god existed he would have saved those people in the theater. I simply say that there is no evidence to support the existence of any god, therefore it is pointless to discuss such a supernatural being's whereabouts.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:46 am |
  18. Jack

    Again, why are we even talking about atheism in light of the Aurora incident? It has absolutely nothing to do with atheism. Atheism (which is a lack of belief) does not comfort or console the friends and family of lost ones, so I find it tactless that people are using this story to attack religious beliefs.

    In Christianity this world is not everything, obviously. We believe that the soul of a good and loving person transcends material death – there will be justice in the afterlife. We also have freewill, and as a consequence of having free choice bad things will naturally occur. If God removed every possible bad thought, bad action, evil, etc., then freewill would not exist and people would not have a choice to do right or wrong. If there is no evil there can be no good. God gave us freewill because He wanted us to have the ability to love and do good. And if you are a parent, wouldn't you want your children to be the same; to love you by their own free will?

    I'm very sorry, but atheists can't have it both ways.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:13 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Because believer assholes blame atheism for these terrible events?

      August 2, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Again, why are we even talking about atheism in light of the Aurora incident? "

      Easy answer.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkyWec8m5W4

      CNN Belief Blog editors. They posted a article that asked where was God in Aurora last week and got 10k comments. Most of them with Atheist and the Faithful at each others throats. And like puppets most of us have danced for them. I used to think they were Pro-Atheist but now I feel that they spend their time laughing at the Atheist as much as the Faithful.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • L

      The issue isn't that atheists "want to have it both ways". It's the fact that there are people out there who are trying to spin this very terrible tragedy into a religious issue. If you want to talk about "having it both ways" then you MUST ask yourself why "god" chose to save some and didn't save others. This is the issue atheists ask every day. What's at issue here is not that people turn to religion in times of need, it's that people almost always automatically think it's okay to assign religion as the ONLY way of coping. Not everyone needs religion in these situation, and it's not right to assume that everyone in the theatre that night was christian.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • tallulah13

      There is no proof to support the existence of any god. Therefore I do not believe in any god. That's about the extent of my beliefs. As for posting about Aurora, the CNN blogs are open to anyone who wishes to respond.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"It's the fact that there are people out there who are trying to spin this very terrible tragedy into a religious issue."

      That is interesting because the common theme from some of the radical Atheist is to "spin" every war or evil done by mankind into an attack on Religion and Faith.

      Sadly this is what people do to validate themselves and stupidly believe that they will crush the other side. On the pro-gun and anti-gun message boards, this shooting was barely thought of as a Religion issue. Its gun ownership and folks are spinning this tragedy the best they can. One side saying if no one had guns then this would not happen. The other side saying that if more folks have guns then, I guess, folks could have returned fire.

      Its always going to be spin.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:51 am |
    • Higgs-Boson Baby

      God is everywhere, and He/She was in Aurora as well. So why weren't they saved? Or should I ask – Why should they have been saved? We are all mere mortals living in a universe of space/time that has been expanding since the Big Bang. Death/life, good/evil, order/chaos, matter/anti-matter, visible matter/dark matter, just to name a few, were all incorporated into its design. If this is part of a perfect creator's design then these variables must also be perfect, even though we may not perceive them that way. The design is not flawed, it is we who are flawed for questioning it. All things will be revealed to us someday, as God has promised.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:53 am |
  19. cheetofreak

    I'm an atheist, and it bothers me that other atheists are getting all in a stink about this. Some people choose faith. Atheists and Agnostics have faith in man and science, and that is no different than faith in a supernatural being.

    Why can't atheists just leave it alone? As long as the religious subject at hand doesn't infringe upon your rights, then you don't need to comment on it. At all.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:13 am |
    • Etalan

      because by saying it god will or god work in strange, etc. what christian really said is don't change anything. The incident prove something need to change, but using their religion, nothing will change, and a tragic like this will make more people become religious, and soon another tragic event will happen, said it god will, more people join a religion, rinse and repeat.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • Get Real

      Well, on the surface you're stating the obvious. But you have to consider that aggressive / antagonistic atheism is more a political movement than a personal socio-religious position. People like you bother nobody. That's fine. However when you start demeaning personal belief in an effort to marginalize political influence you are no longer an atheist.

      You are a lobbyist.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • TheBob

      You're no atheist. But you try to play one on comment sections. Nice try. Better luck next time. But I wouldn't count on it. Your IQ must be this high to get on this ride.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • Get Real

      My comment was to cheetofreak.

      Etalan, you're post is unintelligible.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • Get Real

      Uh-oh. Cheetofreak has been refused membership to Bob's little club. No secret handshake for cheetofreak.

      *sigh*

      Go get a beer.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Etalan

      @get real
      You refuse to think. Religion culture are the slowest to adapt or change for better. Using excuses like god, give people more reason to do nothing. Have you seen most religious city in the south. Some is almost identical to most 3rd world country. The more people believe in god, the slower they change for good.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • ArdDruid

      Why can't Atheists leave it alone?? I can give one reason, because Christians and most other religions are too sanctimonious to not try to shove their beliefs down everyone else's throats. I DO NOT Believe in the JudeoChristian Islamic god If I wanted to know about your god I would ask but only for curiousity's sake. I was Raised Southern Baptist and I thank them every single day for CURING me of religion. The last time I heard someone say it was God's plan that my friend's lost their baby I punched the A**hole right in the mouth. He was escorted out and I got handshakes.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • Edwin

      Faith in man or science is qualitatively different from faith in a divine being, because it is faith based on tangibles and on evidence. In a fairly real sense it is not even faith at all, at least not in the same way. Yes, there is the unfounded belief that the universe is measurable and predictable, and that humans are capable of successfully modeling that prediction. But science is qualitatively more experiential than religion, at least at its heart.

      That said, the real reason evangelical atheists post here is the same reason people post on on most of these sites: because they are essentially busybodies who like to tell everyone else how to live their lives. There is nothing more quintessentially American than small-town, small-minded gossip; the internet just allows us to do it on what feels like a much bigger scale.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Get Real

      Etalan, I don't know where you're posting from, but it sure as hell isn't Biloxi, Birmingham, or Atlanta. I do hope, for your sake, that the images playing in your head slow down a bit – or at least transform into some old American Idol episodes.

      Wait... that wouldn't be much of an improvement.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • Etalan

      @get real
      your statement don't even make sense.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • Get Real

      Well, Etalan, now you know how I feel about -your- posts.

      Of course you probably think that you're the only sane person on the blog, so, good luck with that.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • Timmuh

      Yes, i suspect you are no atheist at all. atheists do not have faith in science at all and would never use the 2 words together.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  20. No God

    There is just as much evidence that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists and created everything with his noodly appendage as there is that God exists and created everything. Yet Christians do not accept one but accept the other. Makes no sense.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • raenil

      You put a lot of thought into that comment. Kudos.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Fred Evil

      Ramen!

      August 2, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Get Real

      Oh yeah. Lots of thought. FSM. Totally original.

      Here's a cookie. Oh, wait.... a candy bar. It's.. a Kudos !!

      August 2, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • Mad Cow

      @ Get Real –

      Get real, Get Real, take your bi tch slap and go home.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • Get Real

      A bit ch slap? Directed at me? Show me.

      Cow, when's the last time you had an actual live, original thought pass between your ears?

      Never mind. I'm eating now.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • zentanith

      I believe in logic and science. I love learning. I rarely go to church and my IQ has been tested at 143. After 43 years on this planet, I know there is a God, and I come to that conclusion from all my scientific research, not by reading the bible.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • Get Real

      @ zentanith

      You are aware that the I.Q test doesn't count if you grade it yourself, right?

      August 2, 2012 at 3:18 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.