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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. Whats In A Name

    "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." Sure...it's because they can bash God and his followers anonymously. Cruelty towards others seems to have no bounds when you can do it online.

    August 2, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • jungleboo

      History tells us very clearly what your type used to do to others who spoke against your ideas. More power to us!

      August 2, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • GiveItUp

      Or, when you have the protection of the church and a priests robe to hide behind to commit your pedophile atrocities.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Bozobub

      Yet, physical cruelty to others (*cough* The Inquisition; The Crusades; the genocide of the Gnostics) who don't believe in YOUR faith, or in a slightly different version, is A-OK. I see.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • mitch

      Christians for a Moral America posting on a website that openly gay George Michael should not recover from his illness but die because it is the will of god, is okay with you? Pot calling the kettle black. Cruelty towards others. enough said.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • lefty

      "Cruelty towards others" because someone disagrees with you and simply asks for some kind of tangible proof? Just because we dismiss your silly way of life doesn't make us cruel.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • GiveItUp

      One other benefit to communicating through the internet has nothing to do with 'anonymity'. I once 'challenged' the belief of a religious person face to face – I had the audacity to suggest that the 7 days of creation were actually an accurate explanation of evolution that could be explained to people that couldn't comprehend a million years of time passing. She very nearly became violent and ran from the room. Some weeks later she apologized and told me no-one had ever presented that concept to her and she reacted poorly. Religious people WILL NOT LISTEN to logic, but... they will read a post and maybe, just maybe, parts of it will trigger some independent thoughts.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Simple Logic

      So the general gist of what I'm hearing from people is that because some people of faith were jerks (since I can't use the words I want to on here), then that gives today's atheists the right to be jerks to religious people who probably had nothing to do with it? Yep, that sounds like a really mature move.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • TR6

      Back when I was a Christian I did try and tell them in church; but, they just got angry and told me some kinds of questions were bad and sinful

      August 2, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  2. mitch

    Gilgoff, in my opinion, takes a rather narrow view on the phenomenon of the interrnet and social networking is having through out the world. It is not just a place for secularists to join together and refute the dogma of the christian religions but a place where everyone can be exposed to different ideas. The Arab Spring has come about because in areas of the world where freedom of speech was curtailed by dictatorial governments and religious doctrines, the people have now been exsposed to how others live without fear of opppression and have been willing to revolt to achieve democracy.

    Religions have had it their own way for too long. Without the ability to control the minds of their adherants from cradle to grave, the religions are losing their grip on the power and wealth that defines their real objectives. It may take much more time but their demise seems likely to me, too bad I won't be around to see it.

    PS: By religions, I mean all religions; this has to be pointed out because many christians cannot see beyond their own narrow view point. Thanks, peace and freedom to all.

    August 2, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • jungleboo

      You done good, Mitch.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  3. Dyslexic Dog

    The Federal Bureau of Prisons does have statistics on religious affiliations of inmates. The following are total number of
    inmates per religion category:

    Response Number %
    ---------- --–
    Catholic 29267 39.164%
    Protestant 26162 35.008%
    Muslim 5435 7.273%
    American Indian 2408 3.222%
    Nation 1734 2.320%
    Rasta 1485 1.987%
    Jewish 1325 1.773%
    Church of Christ 1303 1.744%
    Pentecostal 1093 1.463%
    Moorish 1066 1.426%
    Buddhist 882 1.180%
    Jehovah Witness 665 0.890%
    Adventist 621 0.831%
    Orthodox 375 0.502%
    Mormon 298 0.399%
    Scientology 190 0.254%
    Atheist 156 0.209%
    Hindu 119 0.159%
    Santeria 117 0.157%
    Sikh 14 0.019%
    Bahai 9 0.012%
    Krishna 7 0.009%

    August 2, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Pastafairian

      I guess I will have to get my asz locked up to make the list.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  4. Simple Logic

    I'm a "believe and let believe" kind of guy, and I have nothing against other faiths (or atheism). But notice, all the comments refuting the pastor's article don't actually address anything he said with any kind of rational progression. All they say is "you're wrong, I'm right" with varying levels of tact. The pastor made a simple argument as to why God may be present despite tragedy, and no one (unless the comment was buried) offered a reasonable debate on that.

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

      The reasonal debate is that he doesnt exist. Therefore he wasnt there. And, if one wants to say he exists, people pointed out that he, as one commenter posted, is a D-BAG for not showing up.

      There is no rational debate with religion. It is inherently irrational. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, people still claim the factual existance of a mythic figure.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • DC1973

      "You're wrong; I'm right" has been the rallying cry and cornerstone of Christianity for centuries, and it still is. Objecting to other people doing the same is just silly.

      This is the point of faith. You believe in the God you want to believe in, no matter what that is. You believe because you want to, the same as I do. And the great part about it is that you know He'll never happen along to disappoint you. He didn't make us in His image; we made Him in ours.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Simple Logic

      @Geo: Overwhelming evidence that there is no God? Show me that, and I'll gladly listen. Here, I'll save you the time: there isn't any. It's inherently unprovable. Don't pretend like you have proof. If you don't want to believe that's fine, but be honest about how you reached that conclusion.

      @DC: Yes, far too many people on both sides use "you're wrong, I'm right." Two wrongs don't make a right, especially when the second wrong is from people who pride themselves on "thinking rationally." The pastor tried to elevate the discussion by making a somewhat rational argument for why tragedy doesn't disprove God's existence. As someone who desperately wants the discussion to elevate, I'm asking someone from the other side to do the same (I know that there are those who have in the World, just nobody responding to his article).

      August 2, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • TR6

      @Simple Logic: “Overwhelming evidence that there is no God? Show me that, and I'll gladly listen. Here, I'll save you the time: there isn't any. It's inherently unprovable. “

      There is a difference between prof and evidence.

      Yes it is impossible to prove there is no god; but, there is overwhelming evidence that there is no god.

      It just like it is impossible to prove there is no Santa Clause; but, there is overwhelming evidence that there is no Santa Clause.

      August 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Simple Logic

      @TR6: Again, I ask: show me this overwhelming evidence. Sure there's evidence that certain biblical stories aren't true (like creation happening in 7 days, or the great flood covering the whole world), but then again most biblical scholars would agree these are either allegorical, or have a large element of truth even if it doesn't get everything right (for example, many historians agree that there likely were a series of very large floods that certainly didn't cover the whole world, but might seem that way to people in the flooded areas).

      And in the end, all this "evidence" shows is that one or more stories from a specific religion may not be true. It is not by any means evidence that a God, some God, exists.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Simple Logic

      Or doesn't exist, as it were.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  5. showMOREluv84

    It's sad how we continue to push God out of our lives and public places (i.e. schools, etc.) then when something tragic happens we wonder where He is and why He didn't come to the rescue. We all need Jesus Christ more than ever. Only He can give us true comfort and peace. I only wish other "Christians" didn't push so many away with force. "And they'll know we our Christians by our love...by our love" – Jars of Clay.

    August 2, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • John

      James Holmes is Christian.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • lefty

      Nobody wonders "where He is and why He didn't come to the rescue". Believers know deep down what atheist already acknowledge, that god does not exist...and I mean REALLY deep down. Believers are just way too afraid to bring that thought to the surface.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • TR6

      You ever hear about the concept of separation of church and state? Forcing your particular god out of public places is a wonderful and ongoing process. Christians have gotten everything their own way for too long and we are leveling the playing field.

      As far as wondering where god was during a tragedy, its complete absence is just one more piece of evidence that it doesn’t exist

      August 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  6. notawingnut

    Can we all just get along?

    NO. LMAO !!!

    August 2, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  7. .

    5 And he said unto them: Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart; and behold he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people that the sword of justice hangeth over this people; and four hundred years pass not away save the sword of justice falleth upon this people.
    6 Yea, heavy destruction awaiteth this people, and it surely cometh unto this people, and nothing can save this people save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things and shall be slain for his people. (Book of Mormon, Helaman, Chapter 13)

    August 2, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • jungleboo

      ...coo coo

      August 2, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Horus

      yeah, and Matthew 10:34 – I bring not peace but I bring a sword (Jesus) from the Christian Bible......

      August 2, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • realbuckyball

      You're kidding right ? Are our magic undies a little tight today ?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcyzkd_m6KE

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

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcyzkd_m6KE

      August 2, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • justme

      at the end of the revelation John relates from Jesus, do not take away from or add to the words of the prophecy of this scroll or there would be serious consequences. be careful.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • .

      29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?
      30 Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity.
      31 And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them. (Book of Mormon, Helaman, Chapter 13)

      August 2, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • justme

      you may want to put down your book of mormon and pick up a copy of "the mormon murders"

      August 2, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • .

      I am very serious. I believe our days are numbered. No civilization in history has survived forever and I believe ours is on the brink of destruction. We are truly ripening in iniquity.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • justme

      at least we agree on something but if you go to jw.org or watchtower.org you will learn what the bible really teaches. or discuss these subjects with them when they visit and remember Jesus taught us to pray for his name's sanctification and made it known and will make it known as he is now. Jehovah wants you to worship him and he deserves it.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • .

      I am very sorry, my friend, but it is you that is in error. None of the protestant churches could possibly be the true church because they all apostatized from the Catholic church and can claim no authority (Isn't that why we call them protestants?) Christ founded his church on priesthood authority. Hebrews 5 says, " 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
      5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee." Aaron was ordained to the priesthood by Moses, the prophet, and Moses received the priesthood from his father in law, Jethro. John 15:16 says: "16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit," Christ never intended that minsters and pastors run helter skelter preaching whatever they please and taking priesthood authority "unto themselves". He intended that his church be run by revelation administered by a prophet. Only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the organization of the original church and is administered by a prophet of God. It is the only church today that is administered by verifiable priesthood authority with most churches not even bothering with authority at all!

      August 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Book of Mormon was given by angel Moroni who is no other then messenger of satan. There are people who, while staying alone in Utah in hotel room, had visitation from this angel .He told them to pi/ck up the book of Mormon and read , and to believe what is saying. Those , being strong Christians, were troubled in spirit and gave him the Word of God, just like Christ Jesus did when tempted by satan. And when they said to "Moroni" in the Name of Christ Jesus, reveal your true identi/ty, he said that HE WAS THE MESSAENGER OF SATAN. Then he left them!
      So be careful what and whom you listen too. If it does not align with the Holy Scriptures of the Bible, IT IS NOT OF GOD. You can not hang on to the Name of Jesus but reject the testimony of His Spirit. And the spirit of Mormonism is NOT in line with the testimony of the Spirit of God!

      August 2, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  8. Dyslexic Dog

    10 or 20 more generations and the world will look at God and Jesus the same way we see Horus and Ra and Zeus and Apollo today. What a nonsensical giggle religion is. LOLOL

    August 2, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • jungleboo

      Perhaps "Belief" will then be referred to as "Be-laugh", and we will get on with the business of loving this life as it truly deserves to be loved.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  9. Dyslexic Dog

    The stories of the Bible are not original. They are copied directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    It's not only just a story book, it's a copied story book! LOLOLOL

    August 2, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • zeus_z

      That is rediculous. WHo can write something in such degree, detail, and cover everything so perfectly? Obviouls troll.

      For you simple minded atheists, that are so arrogant and have it all figured out. I hate to go this lowly route but maybe looking at some youtube near death experiences will start making you believers. Christ is real. We are just passing by in this world. This is a test to see how we live our life- to we live to serve ourselves, or to help others? Do we live to be slaves to money, and posessions?

      August 2, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Yes, URADog

      2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Bozobub

      "Cover everything so perfectly"..? LOL

      Nope. You just think so.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Horus

      @zeus – don't know much about the average atheist I see. We aren't the ones claiming to have everything figured out.....believers take that claim. We just argue using evidence and reason that your claims are not accurate. That's the beauty of science; unlike religion, we continue to seek answers without locking ourselves within the parameters of some religious ideology.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • richunix

      Zeus,

      The Christian have had centries to write and YES re-write there stories...so who's the Fool here? It doesn't take a very wiseman to see the fallacy in your belief... Sorry....

      August 2, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • LOL

      The after life is depicted in the movies Beetlejuice by Tim Burton, which is way cool but a little over the top and/or The Rapture by Michael Tolkin, with all the requisite christian characters but the dedeased does the right thing in the end and tells them to pi*ss off.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @zeus
      The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, The Lord of The Rings and Beowulf are all acient texts that tell stories in great detail.
      They reference real life places and people and refer to historical events – but they're still myths.
      The complexity of a story is not correlated to its veracity.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Bozobub

      Er, LOTR doesn't refer to any real-life locations or people, no matter how analogous the Silmarillion is to the Bible...

      Just sayin'; I generally agree with your pooints, Doc ^^' .

      August 2, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  10. DC1973

    Horus, nah. Scientologists believe that we're all the dead souls of alien brain bugs. Or something. Those people are just weird.

    August 2, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Horus

      10-4.....for some reason I thought they believed you were reborn multiple times until you reached a level of enlightenment.....or 'till you donated enough $$$

      August 2, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Bozobub

      Actually, Scientologists believe we are all haunted by the souls of" alien brain bugs" ("Thetans"). We are supposed to be the descendants of the crew (as I recall) who survived the crash of a prison spaceship; the prisoners themselves supposedly died in a volcano o.o' ...

      August 2, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  11. GiveItUp

    As a child I believed in god. As I matured over the years, I became agnostic. Now that I am middle aged, and better understand and comprehend the intricate workings of DNA, cells and the like, I am an Atheist. This 'understanding' of life at a molecular level doesn't, however, preclude me from appreciating the positive influence that the church can have on the simpler minded masses. Most people in this world need to believe that a higher power is watching them and judging their actions, and that one day they will be held accountable. Without the belief that 'Santa is keeping a list of naughty and nice', we would literally descend into our own homemade hell.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • zeus_z

      Interesting. As a pre med student, learning more about the "intrictes" of DNA only made me realize how perfect all must be for us to exist, not only for our phyusical bodies, but our world- Why do you think this all happened by accident?

      August 2, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • John

      To believe in a god that judges your actions in no way requires organized religion.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • sam stone

      zeus: to your way of thinking, does a "creator" have to be a"god"?

      August 2, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • 303_B

      I couldn't agree more! Thanks for saying that so much more poignantly that I ever could!

      August 2, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • zeus_z

      As a Christinan I am in trouble I say I believe yet I sin, each and every day..and try to ask for mercy and forgiveness. Does the creator have to be God? Well, thats for you to seek out, through the Bible. It says in the Bible God will open the doors to you if you seek him out.

      I dont condemn atheists, I find it interesting views which makes me want to read and learn more in the Bible. This is all the Devils work. Also, the Devil believes in God. His demons are at work and are fighting to take our souls away from God.

      This world is getting very arrogant and thinks it has it all figured out. look around us, morals are out the window, the Bible is being taken out of everywhere- financial meltdowns at every level. Its all in the Bible.

      Is it a coincidence the Bible say the path for the saved will be narrow?

      August 2, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Zeus, why do you see "accident" as the only alternative to a creator god? (look up "false dichotomy")

      Keep at your studies, young Padawan. There is much to learn.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • GiveItUp

      The error I made for years was looking at the unbelievable complexity of the thing, how it would be impossible for it all to happen if there wasn't a supernatural force in action. But – stop and consider that the chemical interactions evolved layered upon layer (through trial and error) over the course of millions and millions of years. At every point in the chemical reaction, even though it is complex beyond the ability for us to fathom it, the next chemical reaction which is necessary for life to progress is actually the one most likely to occur (given the temperature, pressure and other external variables are within reasonable tolerances). Once you realize this, life at the atomic level becomes a row of dominoes that will always fall in order.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Timmy

      @Zeus...you are really no different than one who believes fairies cause rain and everytime it rains is proof of fairies.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  12. Stuho

    Every time something bad happens, due to a mentally deranged individual, some atheist comes along (or many) and begins the same old argument that there is no God. It really is amazing to me that they try so hard to prove their faith (yes, faith...they believe there is no God, so their faith is disbelief). I believe there is a God, so I also believe that there is a devil. And it amazes me that the devil has created the perfect storm, in that he turns man against man (and God), and then gets man to blame God. So, these lost souls (atheists) try their best to convince others to follow their beliefs, and unknowingly, help the devil in his attempts to turn man away from God. If you chose not to believe in God, you have that choice, because God gave you a choice, that is something that the devil does not do. So, as to the question, "why does God allow evil"? Well, if you spent as much time researching the Scriptures, as you do the gossip columns, or the sport columns, you may come to understand the perfect will of our Heavenly Father, who only desires you to accept His Son. Will this stop evil from happening? Only if everyone accepts our Lord, but sad to say, the majority of man will not, so evil will continue until the last trumpet sounds. I pray that you look closely at your course in life, and humble yourself before the Lord and be saved.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • realbuckyball

      Bla bla bla. So, the fact that you think there is no 1957 Chevy orbiting Pluto, is also a faith, and a belief. Right.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • JT1962

      If God exists and his perfect plan is all for us to accept his son, then how come those who accept his son still sin? If evil is truly caused by not accepting his son, then all Jews and most other non-Christian religions aren't part of God's perfect plan? Sorry, too many flaws there for me to accept that this is all God wants.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Bozobub

      Sorry, Stuho, you still have *zero* proof, besides the "holy book" written by sun-deranged shepherds and cranks. You don't think so? Of course not, silly. But that doesn't matter one whit, until you can come up with one iota of proof.

      The Deity who cannot survive critical debate is no deity.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • ArthurP

      Every time something good happens, as a result of any thing or individual, some religious person comes along (or many) and begins the same old argument that there is a God.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Tapas

      Stuho:
      There is a huge difference between belief based on facts and belief based on religion.
      Religion counts on you believing what it says blindly.

      In fact, try debating your point by exclusion of 1 source. You're not allowed to use 1 source of information in your argument (chosen by the atheist) and an atheist isnt allowed to use one source of your choice. Who do you think would "win" (rhetorical question)

      When you investigate and find out that the Bible is written about 5 generations after the alleged events happened (longest game of telephone) and was not written by Jesus, its just a spectators excerpt of a few events that don't cover any events of his youth.
      Follow that up by the fact that its a few thousand years old and has been translated at least 5 times and edited by every Pope and even Kings, you're left with old parables that are a moral guide at best.
      Also, a lot of Christians misunderstand what the Bible preaches.

      All of these are facts. Believing in facts are not the same as believing in a/any book.
      So atheism is not a faith.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • TDesai

      Stuho:
      There is a huge difference between belief based on facts and belief based on religion.
      Religion counts on you believing what it says blindly.

      In fact, try debating your point by exclusion of 1 source. You're not allowed to use 1 source of information in your argument (chosen by the atheist) and an atheist isnt allowed to use one source of your choice. Who do you think would "win" (rhetorical question)

      When you investigate and find out that the Bible is written about 5 generations after the alleged events happened (longest game of telephone) and was not written by Jesus, its just a spectators excerpt of a few events that don't cover any events of his youth.
      Follow that up by the fact that its a few thousand years old and has been translated at least 5 times and edited by every Pope and even Kings, you're left with old parables that are a moral guide at best.
      Also, a lot of Christians misunderstand what the Bible preaches.

      All of these are facts. Believing in facts are not the same as believing in a/any book.
      So atheism is not a faith.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  13. jack

    So with all the different religions and beliefs that have come into being through out history, which one accorrding to God (or whatever you may call him) is the one that was chosen/created by him? And how do you prove it?

    August 2, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • justme

      I only know of one that really uses his name on a regular basis and it means something.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • justme

      if you really want to know go to jw.org or watchtower.org and ask sincere questions

      August 2, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Bozobub

      Oho! So you think you know Deity's name, eh? Funny, even your own Bible directly tells you that the name of Deity is unknowable. Oops! Guess you go to Hell now, eh? lol...

      Think your drivel through.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • DC1973

      They all claim they're the chosen religion, and they all use the same words to do it.

      No one knows who's right and who's wrong, and no one living ever will.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • DC1973

      Bozobub, JWs also don't believe in vaccinating their children or celebrating birthdays. And they've got this problem with their prophets predicting ends of the world that never seem to happen.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • ScottCA

      Over 350 million Buddists, Over 1.6 Billion muslims, over 13 million Jews, 950 million Hindus,
      Catholicism 1.5 billion, Protestantism 670 Million, Eastern Orthodoxy, 230 Million, and countless other splinter religions, all off which claim to be correct with no evidence.

      The sheer arrogance of believing that you know your religion is the correct one (with no evidence at all), when the rest of the worlds faith based religions are saying you will equally burn in hell for your mistaken choice is pure idiocy.

      All faith based religions are ancient lies. Faith based churches are nothing more than peddlers of ancient lies, teaching what they would like to believe is true, instead of what is true. Religion is a parasitic meme infecting humanity.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Bozobub

      Well, I already knew that tidbit, actually, but I don't see how it applies directly to this poster's statement o.O'...

      August 2, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • justme

      bozo, where did you get that from? read the bible and many translations use his name as J esus taught

      August 2, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • DC1973

      Bozobub, I thought you were answering justme and their watchtower spam. Whoops.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • justme

      before i go , but i will be back, i love you guys and girls, but if you have not visited jw.org or watchtower.org you are missing out on what the bible really teaches. or give them a sincere discussion or question the next time they visit. they are the only religion that puts Jehovah first.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Bozobub

      Sorry, JustMe, but the rest of the Christians label YOU as a heretic. =)

      I'm sure you don't see the irony.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  14. Horus

    It would be interesting to run a poll online to see how many people are really non-believers. I suspect that the percentage of non-beleivers in this country is much higher than phone polls indicate. Regardless, atheism is not a religion, but forging together against organized religions IMO is necessary to counter the influence on elected officials. Take Bachmann for example; who will probably be re-elected to Congress even though she is viewed by most as out of her mind. Even McCain basically told her to S T F U. Or Santorum, who blames higher education for the decrease in belief.....well......duh....when you educated people they tend to apply a little critical thought. Why do people continue to vote for candidates that openly want you to remain in unquestioned ignorance? That is why non-believers need to become more vocal.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  15. Voltaire

    10000+ comments on the orginal story and 28+ pages now....I guess some people get really exicted when exposed to a "new" philosopical debate....too bad the Problem of Evil is one of the oldest philosophical/ theological questions and has been beaten to death and approached from every possible angle by the greatest minds in history for the last 3000 years....I get the feeling some of you actually believe you are contributing earth- shattering intellectual revelations....one wonders whether to laugh or cry....

    August 2, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • GiveItUp

      You've just touched on the very reason that religion is able to persist. Each generation is told that the Rapture is around the corner (but are blind to the fact that millions of people for thousands of years have been told the same story). The small mindedness of man is summed up by a story from my grandfathers generation. In a small church in southern Canada, someone burst into the church and declared that they just saw the devil skulking around the hay stack in the field. The congregation rushed out and surrounded the hay stack, lighting it on fire. They actually believed that the 'all powerful' devil would be hanging out in a field in the middle of nowhere, and that the could defeat him with their torches. Complete and utter nonsense, but... because people do not see the bigger picture, ignore history, ignore scientific proof that contradicts their childlike beliefs – religion persists, and will continue to persist long beyond any of our lifetimes.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Voltaire

      Religion is able to persist because it satisfies the basic human need to "believe" ....some choose to believe in god and an afterlife....some choose to believe in the precepts of secular humanism and deny the possibility of god or an afterlife...in the end, both are "belief systems" and neither is more philosophically valid than the other. Problems only arise when the intolerant....and there are plenty on both sides of the iissue....feel compelled to inflict their beliefs on the rest of humanity.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  16. it is

    In Aurora, God was in the cinema getting shot at, just as atheism is doing now. Wherever communion and uplifting of people in truth and love are being attacked, there is God and his people being attacked. God is spirit. Christ is the incarnation of his spirit. We are striving to join him. Perseverance under persecution has only ever made us stronger. Athiests, keep up the good work. (BTW, your outward objective impression is one of, snyde, rather pathetic, self-absorbed, impish negativity. Atheists seem to lack a positive, coherent, involving , contributing, relational existance, ie, a Life. You are welcome to join us anytime !)

    August 2, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Dyslexic Dog

      James Holmes is remembered by family and friends as a church going, christian lad. So you want to know where God was in Aurora ... God was in James Holmes' heart.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • bnakka

      Yeah what do you want people who knew him to say. Yeah he grew up a monster? What will that say about these people if they admit they knew there was something wrong about him since he was a kid? Where were they in alerting that this young man was always twisted in his mind. Stop with the he was good christian lad arguments.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Dyslexic Dog

      Not an argument. Just a fact. If you are a Christian then by definition you have God in your heart. Like the vast majority of prison inmates charged with the most heinous crimes, he has God in his heart.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • momof5

      Wow. Way to be a "Christian". Isn't judging one of those things you aren't supposed to be doing? Just one of the examples of what is wrong with religion.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Dennis

      Not that any of what I have done means any more than the countless others who have done the same and more.....but....... I have assisted in delivering five babies; resusitated three people in full cardiac arrest; attended to the sick and injured in their time of need; consoled the dying, their family and friends; raised three beautiful, caring, loving daughters; treat my beautiful wife like a queen because in my eyes she is; will take in any orphaned, abandoned, sick animal I find; etc. etc......... and I have done, am doing, and will do all of this as an atheist.

      When I emerged from my mother's womb I was pure. I did not know evil, or good vs bad, or pain..... from that point forward, all that I did, am doing, and will do, is the result of 'nature and nurture'. This I believe is true for all humanity, past, present, and future.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  17. Dyslexic Dog

    The stories of Christianity are not original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    August 2, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • YBP

      To your point, the debate on the Resurrection that is posted on YouTube between William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier includes a ton of interesting information about the Mythmaking in the Gospels. Dr. Carrier is really at his best is this one, despite the barbs and unseemly insults and other white noise coming out of Craig.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • DC1973

      Yeah, there's no doubt that Noah's Arc is the epic of Gilgamesh, or that Noah and Utnapishtim are the same person. And let's not forget that Christianity's holiest days – Christmas and Easter – are timed to coincide with the Winter Solstice and Oestre, two of the largest Pagan festivals. To steal a phrase from Jon Bon Jovi, "It's all the same. Only the names of have changed."

      August 2, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • low IQ=Christian? high IQ = atheist?

      Jesus is a historical (not made up) figure recognized even by other religions as having performed many of the miracles recorded in the Bible.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Orem

      IQ? Incredulity Quotient?

      August 2, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • low IQ=Christian? high IQ = atheist?

      I'm pretty sure Genesis/Exodus predates Gilgamesh.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Bozobub

      No, the date GIVEN for Genesis predates Gilgamesh, but not the actual myth. Exodus, on the other hand, supposedly happened after Gilgamesh, by its own accounting. Way to be ignorant of your own holy book.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • FactsStraightener

      All we really know about Apollonius of Tyana is given to us by Philostratus who produced his works in the 3rd century A.D. One source. His writings are not attested to by others and are written far after the time of the life of Apollonius. In contrast, the gospels and Pauline epistles were written in the mid-to-latter half of the first century. Much closer to the actual time of Jesus of Nazareth. They also include multiple attestation to certain events, even accounting for the Q source, there is still multiple attestation. Anyone who at least would like to be better informed, even if you do not believe, should read or consult The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright. Many of us today have never heard of these myths or figures you cite; they have largely died out. Yet within a few decades of His death Christian communities had already reached what to a 1st century Jew would have been the "ends of the earth": Rome itself. The Apostles were mostly all martyred for their claims. Why give your life for some story you made up? Why devote your life to something that brings you no material gain? Christianity (in its earliest years) spread through peaceful means unlike other world empires or religions. It was not about conquering, subjugating, or absolute conversion. The accounts of the resurrection as they are written are historically compelling, as they cite a woman finding the empty tomb. In 1st century Palestine, the word of a woman was suspect. So, a "myth" or "story" would most certainly not have had a woman doing this, which by the way, also meets the test of multiple attestation by being in both John and the synoptic gospels. We should consider it then, more historically compelling than not, that a woman did in fact report an empty tomb to a group of men. It is for you to decide what the meaning of this is. For me, it means being able to look at all of the gospels and Pauline letters in total (with their similarities and differences) as painting the picture for us of what Christ is all about. And that is calling us to live as we were meant to, to treat one another as we were meant to, and to put the world right through His Spirit both in and through us.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  18. Joe Deist

    That is the question that humanity has been struggling with since the dawn of civilization: how a benevolent God could allow bad things to happen to good people.

    I had a friend who was really poor growing up. His clothes were always hand-me-downs, or from the GoodWill, or donated by a church group.

    He was a smart kid, though, and he worked his way through college, and now has a very well-paying career.

    One of his secret joys has to do with buying dress shirts from mens' clothing stores. If you've ever done this you know the things have a million pins , plastic pieces, and cardboard inserts. He told me once that taking out all those pins was like unwrapping a present at Christmas. Something that probably drives the rest of the world crazy is one of his favorite things, because he has the perspective to appreciate it.

    Bad things happen so we can appreciate the good things.

    *That* is where God is.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • ArthurP

      Right, so twelve people get killed in a theater which makes me sad so I can better appreciate the joy of watching the NFL my new 60 inch flat screen.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Dyslexic Dog

      oh my! So millions of innocent people have died in untold agony and anguish in the name of religion over the centuries so that you can all better appreciate the good times? Is that where God is? Oh my!

      August 2, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • WASP

      @joe: that is just a way to rationalize why bad things happen. good things and bad things just like time is just a perspective of the thing viewing it.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  19. ArthurP

    If the International Olympic Committee cannot be sure of the gender of an athlete with all their testing equipment what makes Fundamental Christians think they can with just their eyes.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/30/science/la-sci-olympics-gender-20120730

    August 2, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  20. Lisa

    Hey athiests and believers, what if you're both wrong? What if we have immortal souls and God lets us work out our kinks throughout multiple lifetimes? Really reaping what you sow would make service and kindness to others a higher priority, don't ya think?

    August 2, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • rep

      your on to something here... But, atheist and christians are too ignorant.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Haps

      Tell me where the soul is located in the human body. Then tell me how it will make me live forever, then tell me where I'll live, and I'll begin to take your seriously.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • DC1973

      That's Hinduism.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Horus

      Scientologist?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Bozobub

      Lisa, guess which group (religious types or atheists) actually admits they could be wrong, if someone could produce some evidence regarding the matter.

      Well?

      August 2, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • ScottCA

      You are commiting a fallacy of logic, confusing what you would like to believe is true, with what is actually true.
      There is no evidence of god. There is no need to envoke the existance of god to explain anything.
      Envoking god does not answer anything, it simply pushes the question up one more level and complicates things with further questions. The simple question of how the universe was created (already given a working theory by Astrophysics) is expanded through the envocation of the existance of god into : How was god created? How did god create the universe? How does god control the process of the universe when they appear to function perfectly on their own according to the laws of physics? How does God make immaterial souls interact with the material world?

      Occam's Razor states that the simplest answer is usually the correct one. In this case the simplest answer is: There is no God.

      There is no evidence to support the existance of god, thus the null hypothesis remains most likely correct that there is no god, and this is the logical postion to hold.

      I will conclud with a quote from the brilliant psychologist steven pinker in regards the stupidity of faith based religion:

      "The problem with the religious solution [for mysteries such as consciousness and moral judgments] was stated by Mencken when he wrote, 'Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.' For anyone with a persistent intellectual curiosity, religious explanations are not worth knowing because they pile equally baffling enigmas on top of the original ones. What gave God a mind, free will, knowledge, certainty about right and wrong? How does he infuse them into a universe that seems to run just fine according to physical laws? How does he get ghostly souls to interact with hard matter? And most perplexing of all, if the world unfolds according to a wise and merciful plan, why does it contain so much suffering? As the Yiddish expression says, If God lived on earth, people would break his window."

      August 2, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • lefty

      Hey Lisa and rep....News Flash, you both fall into one of those catagories. You either believe or you don't so rep, calling both atheist and believers ignorant would include yourself.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:47 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.