My Faith: The danger of asking God ‘Why me?'
August 4th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: The danger of asking God ‘Why me?'

Editor’s note: Timothy Keller is senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York and author of The New York Times best-selling book "The Reason for God." His book for church leaders, "Center Church," will be published in September.

By Timothy Keller, Special to CNN

(CNN)–When I was diagnosed with cancer, the question “Why me?” was a natural one.

Later, when I survived but others with the same kind of cancer died, I also had to ask, “Why me?”

Suffering and death seem random, senseless.

The recent Aurora, Colorado, shootings — in which some people were spared and others lost — is the latest, vivid example of this, but there are plenty of others every day: from casualties in the Syria uprising to victims of accidents on American roads. Tsunamis, tornadoes, household accidents - the list is long.

As a minister, I’ve spent countless hours with suffering people crying: “Why did God let this happen?” In general I hear four answers to this question. Each is wrong, or at least inadequate.

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

The first answer is “I guess this proves there is no God.” The problem with this thinking is that the problem of senseless suffering does not go away if you abandon belief in God.

In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said that if there was no higher divine law, there would be no way to tell if any particular human law was unjust. Likewise, if there is no God, then why do we have a sense of outrage and horror when suffering and tragedy occur? The strong eat the weak, there is no meaning, so why not?

Friedrich Nietzsche exemplified that idea. When the atheist Nietzsche heard that a natural disaster had destroyed Java in 1883, he wrote a friend: “Two-hundred-thousand wiped out at a stroke—how magnificent!”

Because there is no God, Nietzsche said, all value judgments are arbitrary. All definitions of justice are just the results of your culture or temperament.

My Take: This is where God was in Aurora

As different as they were, King and Nietzsche agreed on this point. If there is no God or higher divine law then violence is perfectly natural.

So abandoning belief in God doesn’t help with the problem of suffering at all.

The second response to suffering is: “While there is a God, he’s not completely in control of everything. He couldn’t stop this.”

But that kind of God doesn’t really fit our definition of “God.” So that thinking hardly helps us with reconciling God and suffering.

The third answer to the worst kind of suffering – seemingly senseless death – is: “God saves some people and lets others die because he favors and rewards good people.”

But the Bible forcefully rejects the idea that people who suffer more are worse people than those who are spared suffering.

This was the self-righteous premise of Job’s friends in that great Old Testament book. They sat around Job, who was experiencing one sorrow after another, and said “The reason this is happening to you and not us is because we are living right and you are not.”

At the end of the book, God expresses his fury at Job’s ”miserable comforters.” The world is too fallen and deeply broken to fall into neat patterns of good people having good lives and bad people having bad lives.

The fourth answer to suffering in the face of an all-powerful God is that God knows what he’s doing, so be quiet and trust him.

This is partly right, but inadequate. It is inadequate because it is cold and because the Bible gives us more with which to face the terrors of life.

God did not create a world with death and evil in it. It is the result of humankind turning away from him. We were put into this world to live wholly for him, and when instead we began to live for ourselves everything in our created reality began to fall apart, physically, socially and spiritually. Everything became subject to decay.

But God did not abandon us. Only Christianity of all the world’s major religions teaches that God came to Earth in Jesus Christ and became subject to suffering and death himself, dying on the cross to take the punishment our sins deserved, so that someday he can return to Earth to end all suffering without ending us.

Do you see what this means? We don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be.

It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he doesn’t care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness that he was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering himself.

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Someone might say, “But that’s only half an answer to the question ‘Why?'” Yes, but it is the half that we need. If God actually explained all the reasons why he allows things to happen as they do, it would be too much for our finite brains.

What we truly need is what little children need. They can’t understand most of what their parents allow and disallow for them. They need to know their parents love them and can be trusted. We need to know the same thing about God.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Timothy Keller.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • God

soundoff (3,664 Responses)
  1. RMacklin

    God and his truths call out to us constantly. For large portions of our lives we all fail to actually listen or see. Eventually some by purpose some by accident hear and see the proof for Gods existence. I believe in God and his mercy as well as his mysteries but I could never show it to another or explain it to another. That is for God and the individual to work out not me. My task was to shut up and shut off the influence of this world as best I could so that I was able to hear and see what God wanted me to experience. I am not one who has a chance of everlasting life with God because of the extraordinarily righteous life that I've lived. To the contrary for some unknown reason I closed my mouth and shut off my self serving motivations long enough to hear what God was trying to tell me and it caused me to believe, no it caused me to realize that yes there is a God and he has been waiting for you to listen and see what he is trying to tell us all. I believe in the sciences and mans ability to improve or worsen his own condition believe me I was doing everything in my power to waste my life with frivolous things. Probably still do to some degree but I believe my faith that God exists improves my quality of life and those around me. You know for me if I had not heard Gods voice and seen his reaching out to us I would be real worried for the remainder of my existence. Call it what you will but know this we are all caught up in our own perceived knowledge and intellect Isn't that quite a coincidence that the name of the tree that supposedly brought about sin to the world was called the tree of knowledge. Just saying.

    August 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      If you truly hear "God's voice", you should seek professional assistance without delay.

      Just saying.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Not belief blog

      should be share you delusion blog. Listen I am quite happy for you, the problem is why not keep you epiphany to your self? Trying to convince others to join you in your delusion is the problem with all religion.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      RMAcklin, they call out constantly because they are continually needing money.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      "All religion ... is about humankind finding relationship to one higher source. And all religions speak of a perception of God within, a perception that fills us, makes us more than we were. Religions become corrupted when leaders are assigned to explain God's will to the people instead of showing them how to find this direction within themselves." (James Redfield; The Celestine Prophecy) Thought you might be interested in this passage if you hadn't come across it before.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  2. ArthurP

    Why do Christians worship a mass murdering terrorist:

    "And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead." (Exodus 12:29-30)

    (terrorism – killing those with no political power to force political change by those with political power)

    August 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • sybaris

      that was the old god

      August 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Did I also mention that I'm a complete idiot boob?

      Just in case you couldn't figure it out for yourselves.

      Yup, I'm quite a boob.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • David

      @sybaris If that was the "old god", then god would seem to be no less fickle than the Greek Olympians, or even mere mortals for that matter.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Colin

      As you might have gauged from the responses, the Judeo-Christians have no answer. They just wish it away. When Jews celebrate passover, they are, literally, celebrating the murder of thousands of babes and little children. Now, let's be honest, it is all mythology anyway, it never actually happened, but it highlights nicely how difficult it is to have your mythology set in stone while you morality evolves.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      In fact, there is an Egyptian account of the same events as described in the Bible which correespond remarkably until the 10th plague (although the Egyptian account makes no reference to the supernatural). As to the death of the first-born, could all the first=born of Egypt have died in a single night and the Egyptians didn't notice? According to the Ipuwer papyrus, the Egyptian account, a huge earthquake caused deaths in every one of the families of nobleman (and Hebrew tradition has it that up to a third of the Hebrews perished). The word for "first-born" and "noble" in Hebrew is nearly identical but clearly distinct in the Egyptian language; thus, the Biblical account seems to be in error. (There is also a minor grammatical issue with the Hebrew account.)

      August 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • ArthurP


      "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

      Thank you very much but it is not really required.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • ArthurP


      But I thought there was only one God now you say we have two Gods and old and a new???

      August 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  3. RichardSRussell

    “God” is merely a hypothesis with a large marketing department.

    August 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Rich

      There is a lot of truth to that. And while I disagree with much of organized religion, I still believe. Not all believers, fit the stereotypical Christian. Folks should talk to us. We are not as wacko as they want to make us out to be.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Very, very deep pockets and he's not going to give that up!

      August 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Papa

      and that God guy always seems to need money

      August 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You have to love the tax free status too. Hey, what's fair is fair, right?

      August 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  4. David

    There is no God. The reason we feel a sense of injustice with regards to suffering is because feeling that way is part of human nature – a nature which has evolved over many millions of years. If Nietzsche, who by the way died over 100 years ago, disagrees with that then he is wrong. This is the difference between atheists and believers. If some long dead famous atheist said something incorrect our entire system doesn't collapse in on itself because we do not get our beliefs from arguments from authority. Rather we rely on EVIDENCE and REASON. The author of this article would do well to learn this before publicly making a fool of himself in the future.

    August 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  5. Adrian

    When are the faithful going to stop quoting texts riddled with translational errors and utter societal disconnect? Cherry picking is done in what fashion, to support one's argument without fully acknowledging the story from which it comes from. As for violence. The definition is quite relative. From what I can tell the entire visible universe is 'violent'; viruses hijacking bacteria, mitchondrial precursors being surrounded and captured to supply energy, a lion chasing down a gazelle then ripping its midsection apart while it is still alive, a gamma ray eradicating an entire planet. I think you get my point.

    August 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Yeah, it's like neo-Nazis trying to convince Jews that Hitler was right by quoting Mein Kampf.
      But I guess that, if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  6. Paul46

    Neither Science nor Religion adequately answers our questions about suffering. This does not cause me to doubt the physician or the prophet. Only extreme hubris on my part (or petulance) would permit me to insist on an easy answer. Life is a great mystery. I appreciate the efforts of science & religion in helping me to embrace this mystery.

    August 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Sorry, that's a bit of a mentally-lazy cop-out. But as long as you believe YOU control your life, and that any goodness or evil in the world results from your actions and the actions of your fellow humans, I get your point of view and hope the best for you.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      1 + 1 = ?
      A red light means ... ?
      Your child runs up to you crying because she skinned her knee. The proper response is:
      (a) "You little klutz, why don't you watch where you're going?"
      (b) "Ohhh, honey, let me kiss it and make it better."
      See, sometimes it makes SENSE to go for the easy answer!

      August 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  7. jason


    August 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • LinCA


      By using all caps, you are not helping.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Rich

      This is actually a great topic for discussion. Nobody questions your love for your family. We just question why that love is there. Who put it there? There are folks that would murder and steal for their own benefit and be happy. You are different. Why? Is it hereditary (sp)? Evolution? What if things "evolved" differently? There is no rhyme or reason without God imho.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • David

      There are folks who would murder and steal for god and be happy, as well.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      rich, consider this equation:

      Love + stealing + murder + God = Love + stealing + murder

      Solve for God.

      The point is that those things you describe occur just as sensibly with or without a God to orchestrate things.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  8. Hien Tu

    Until we learn to serve others and not ourselves, when we are able to stop attaching ourselves to material and immaterial desires, when we are all finally consciously aware that every living thing is connected, then will suffering end.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  9. Rich

    Pain is only potentially senseless if there is a God. Without God, it's just a valueless fact. Survival of the fittest and all. To the Atheist, pain is good because it helps weed out the weak.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Pain is only potentially senseless if there is a God. Without God, it's just a valueless fact. Survival of the fittest and all. To the Atheist, pain is good because it helps weed out the weak."
      In effect you are saying that believers, if it weren't for their silly beliefs, would all be murderers.

      Please, please, please, do society a favor and never shed your insane beliefs.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • David

      You've got that reversed.

      To a Xtian, pain is good because it reminds mortal men that God is jealous and powerful and keeps us all in our place. Plus, it has the added benefit of ensuring that we never forget the wages of Original Sin.

      As an atheist, I have sadly shed much of the guilt that is that is the inheritance of humanity.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Rich

      Interesting, please elaborate.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  10. Mona

    I have never understood that question "why me?", why not me? The probability something we will face something difficult is high and all of us will die eventually. The problem with many religious people is that they think they are special, have a direct relationship with God and are God like themselves. The fact is we all one in a 7 billion people , there are trillions more living things we share the planet with, all struggle to live each and every day. In the grand scheme of things we are all irrelevant. Better to accept adversity head on, fight and be thankful to prevail. Much healthier than being a victim and asking "why me?".

    August 5, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Paul46

      I love your sense of inclusiveness. True, the "why me?" question seems utterly childish. One point: though you & I are two of 7 billion people, & though we share this beautiful planet with trillions of other life forms–does this necessarily mean we (or they) are irrelevant? What if all beings are quite relevant & important? Instead of feeling diminished by being one of trillions, might not this knowledge add to the wonderment of it all?

      August 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Mona

      I was thinking our individual struggles are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but I like what you wrote much better. I do think everyone is relevant and important.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Paul46

      Thanks Mona.

      August 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  11. fens

    So, in summary, we're little children, and god is our parent, and we don't understand why we're suffering but we have to know that god loves us and can be trusted?

    While a child might think he can trust his parents, it doesn't mean his parents can be trusted. Ever heard of child abuse? A child may not understand the difference between the suffering he feels when getting a vaccination shot vs. getting beaten black & blue for crying too much.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Rich

      Yes, you got it! Maybe you can't trust God. I have chosen to trust him. I hope I'm not wrong. But if I am, I guess I will have missed out on a long, selfish life that ended in death.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Rich, it fascinates me that you automatically equate Atheism with selfishness. Funny, but when you realize that there is no deity and this life will be defined by how you live it with those around you, you have reason to be much LESS selfish. You are no longer trying to reach utopia, you're living in the moment, loving your friends and family, and striving to live a life where meaning is less important than simply BEING. It's free will without the notion of automatic forgiveness if you simply believe. Better than having sins forgiven by God, live in such a way that you do not need forgiving. It's a whole different approach to life.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Aundre speciale

      being an atheist does not make me selfish, but the oppsite. I believe each one of us has the power to make life heaven or hell on earth and I feel a sense of urgency knowing my time is short to make a difference in our world.

      August 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  12. razz

    Why me? It's a good question that's endlessly asked, but it's not the right question which is – Why not me? It's the price we all pay for having a body – period. It's going to be someone, right? It's usually the other guy. But then we're all bound by frail flesh. Then suddenly it's ... you. You're no longer the other guy. It going to be someone who faces disease or the fateful fall of the piano from the 13th floor. The deeper question is what do we do next? If you're a believing Christian, you know that this is part of God's plan for you. Just as Christ suffered and accepted his Father's plan, we are invited to follow. An unbeliever will never grasp the importance of this surrendering completely to God. It's not easy. It doesn't mean that we have to like it. Who likes it? But in hardship and trial and suffering there is dignity and hope. It doesn't mean that we don't seek help and amelioration from problems that beset us. But even then, we must carry our cross as Christ carried his. Talk about tough love. But it is love that embraces and comforts and makes all hardships possible beyond simply enduring.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  13. Ricky L

    The question gives God a laugh.

    That's what I tell myself everytime I utter the word.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  14. FederalReserve Brown

    more people need to see Zietgeist 1-2 & 3 so they can see what a disease and mental illness christianity really is.

    religion IS slavery........ goodness in people does not come from plagarised egyptian crap.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  15. ArthurP

    You know if we treated our children the way God treats his they would be taken away from us and we would be charged and sent to prison.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  16. WorkInProgress

    Dear Bob, I am sorry that you do not have a personal relationship with God and have made the choice to reject Him. However, your non-belief does not mean God does not exist. I am a Christian, and like most Christians I know, we take responsibility for our actions and the choices that we make. There is nothing cowardly about taking a stand for Christ, because, and you and your fellow unbelievers have made it apparent, the world will laugh and mock us. Most people live to please the world, but I could truly care less what you think of me or my God.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      "I have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

      Do you gag as much as I do at hearing this pious crap?

      I've known my sister for over 6 decades. Altho I live in Madison, WI, and she lives in Denver, CO, so we only see each other every couple of years, I can tell you:
       • how tall she is.
       • what color her eyes are.
       • what color and how curly her hair is.
       • the different kinds of prescription drugs she takes, and what for.
       • which parts of her have been operated on.
       • which colleges she attended.
       • what jobs she's held.
       • what cities she's lived in.
       • what her hobbies are.
       • the names and breeds of the various dogs and cats she's had thru the years.
       • her favorite sports teams, and which one she has season tickets for.
       • the TV programs she watches regularly.
       • that it's her on the phone just from the sound of her voice.
       • her att¡tude toward eating meat.
       • whom she voted for in the last presidential election.
       • what kind of medical care she wants in case of a terminal illness.
       • her favorite color.
       • and about 50 other things.

      Now that's a personal relationship. Could any of you Bible-thumpers manage even half a dozen comparable answers about your "deep, personal friend" Jesus? And, even assuming your overwrought imagination could in fact gin up a few stabs at them, what are chances that they'd agree with any other equally deluded True Believer? OTOH, you could ask any of my sister's other good friends about the above characteristics, and they'd give you the exact same answers I would. That's because my sister, unlike your Jesus, is real — a 3-dimensional, flesh-and-blood, living, breathing, real-world human being, with a life, preferences, substance, and history.

      So, Mr. or Ms. True Believer, let's say you're walking across library mall one day, you see your good buddy Jesus in a crowd of folks ahead of you, and you holler "Hey, J, dude, wait up!". Would he?

      Let's not kid ourselves. This would never even happen because there's no way you'd be able to pick Jesus out of a crowd. Heck, you couldn't pick him out of a 1-person lineup. You wouldn't know him if he walked up to you on the street and handed you his business card. (In fact, it would tickle me pink to see your reaction if somebody actually did exactly that.)

      So we both know exactly what your claim to have a "deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ" is. It's bullsh¡t. You know it's bullsh¡t. Everybody else knows it's bullsh¡t. The only reason you keep on repeating this bullsh¡t is because it's the slogan of the club that some con artist or charlatan has suckered you into believing you really want to be a member of. All you have to do is keep repeating the magic bullsh¡t phrase "I have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ" and you can keep going to the club meetings. (Provided you keep paying the dues, too; let's not forget what's really important here.)

      But don't think that repeating that phrase is going to win you anything but contempt or possibly some degree of pity from anyone with a functioning brain. All you're really demonstrating is that you don't know diddly about real relationships or the way the real world really works. You are, in short, a pathetic dupe. And full of bullsh¡t, to boot.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • David

      You cared enough to post.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • LinCA


      Dear WorkInProgress, I am sorry that you do not have a personal relationship with Bob the Magical Blue Sock and have made the choice to reject Him. However, your non-belief does not mean Bob the Magical Blue Sock does not exist. I am a Bobian, and like most Bobians I know, we take responsibility for our actions and the choices that we make. There is nothing cowardly about taking a stand for Bob the Magical Blue Sock, because, and you and your fellow unbelievers have made it apparent, the world will laugh and mock us. Most people live to please the world, but I could truly care less what you think of me or my Bob the Magical Blue Sock.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • What IF


      Outstanding post!

      Yes, I too gag when I hear/read those "close personal relationship with Jesus/God" statements. It is religio-psychobabble, probably originating in the 1960s or 70s. You would not have heard any such a thing 100 years ago - then it was all about subservience to this "master".

      Elwood P. Dowd also had a close personal relationship with his friend, Harvey, the 6'2" invisible rabbit.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • sybaris

      WorkInProgress just got pwned

      August 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Who me?

      @richardRussell,..nice post.Prepare to have it totally ignored by each and every person who chooses a personal relation with Jesus..Aw well.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      RichardSRussell...you, sir, have my deep and utter respect in regards to your posts here.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • purchasedbyhisblood

      I know his family history going back 42 generations Matthew 1;1-17, Luke 3: 23-38, He has a beard Isaiah 50:6, I know he has two puncture wounds one in each hand, also a puncture wound in his side, He also has several scar marks on his back, Matthew 27, He is not handsome- Isaiah 53: 2, he has bronze colored skin, orange eyes, wooly hair Revelation 1:13-15, He will be shining Revelation 1:15, He will be wearing many crowns, dressed in white stained with blood, a sword coming out of his mouth Revelation 19:11-14, He is loving, just, gentle, meek, holy, righteous, kind, faithful, he will be calling me by name, He will have a bronze scepter in his hand Psalm 1:2, he gets angry at sin, he knows all about me, he is right handed Deuteronomy 33:2, He will wear fire as pants Ezekiel 1:28, there are more-I'll post later, just worked an overnight so a little tired. I love my Jesus.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      purchasedbyhisblood writes: "I know his family history going back 42 generations Matthew 1;1-17, Luke 3: 23-38"
      Hmmm, "I know", you say. If I told you that I KNOW that 2 + 2 = 5 and also that 2 + 2 = 7, would you think that maybe my use of the word "know" isn't the same as yours? Because when you say you "know" 2 distinctly different genealogies, and believe them both to be simultaneously true, that's exactly the reaction you provoke in others.
      My point still stands. If Jesus called you on the phone, would you immediately recognize his voice? Since he is, y'know your best bud and all that.

      August 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "I know his family history going back 42 generations [...]. I love my Jesus."
      Yet, I'm willing to bet a small fortune that if you encountered someone who looked exactly like that, you'd reject him as an imposter.

      August 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  17. Bible just a theory

    NEWS FLASH from 2025: "Scientists find CURE for CANCER". Preachers complain that "Scientists must stop playing God. God will be very angry to lose another means to punish those he "loves."

    August 5, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  18. teachingmen2pray

    Those who are attacking Keller for his well reasoned article do so without understanding the epistemology he is addressing. The Nietzsche quote underlies the worldview of the materialist – without a Creator and Law-Giver there is no reason to believe that 200,000 deaths is tragic. From the atheist worldview the universe is just what it is – random and chaotic where destruction is the norm so the materialist should rejoice in the natural working of the universe. But reasonable people don't do that. We recoil at the tragedy and only a warped mind takes pleasure in the death of others, regardless of who they are or what they did. Reasonable people appreciate the value of life but the atheist cannot find that in their own worldview. They may think its there but epistemologically it is not. But a person of reasonable faith can understand the value and beauty of life as created with a sense of both tragedy for such lostness and the hope of a better tomorrow where there will be no more pain. The atheist has no such basis for that hope and living without hope is in itself senseless. Unfortunately, anti-theists, atheist and even some agnostics are blind to this reality.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Interesting discussion of non-believers versus "reasonable people." Objectivity is not really your strong suit.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • David

      It is appallingly apparent that neither you nor the author understand a d_mned thing about Nietzsche.

      It is perhaps a bit more forgivable when you limit yourself to quoting your book of fairy tales than when you attempt to rationalize your silliness by bringing people into the conversation who actually used their heads for thinking as opposed to merely pressing them against the floor in front of an altar.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • afreeman

      Well reasoned article? Seriously?!?!?!?!?
      I believe in higher powers but am not a Christian. This article shows pretty much zero reason. First of all, his primary ideological crutch in explaining how he can believe in a a God who is all loving (at least in the new testament, right?) is the good old blame the victim!!! WE are at fault for th efact that we live in a world that is highly flawed and full of suffering and death... and this man's God allows us to suffer because he loves us! All utter silliness. As for my beliefes: there is a supremem higher power, and he really doesn't give us much thought... to quote someone else who put it bettor than I could, after the big bang, we are pretty damn boring.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • mitch

      The kind of belief dealt with by epistemology is when 'to believe something' simply means any cognitive content held as true in spite of the absence of truth or even evidence. Because religions can simply state something is true, without foundation, is why they are fantasies. Even if you can rise above that fact, 'only a warped mind takes pleasure in the death of others'; your god seems to love wiping out his loving followers from time to time or am I reading from a different bible than you.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      One of the greatest evils of religious argument is to try to validate an otherwise unsupportable point of view by taking the weakest possible counter-argument and distorting it further. You, and Keller go even further and reverse the position of the believers and humanists/materialists.

      August 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      teachingmen2pray commits one of the most fundamental errors in logic here, by misrepresenting what Atheism IS. Atheists simply believe a God is not the root cause of all observed phenomenon. Atheists believe in love, sacrifice, compassion, being "good", fighting "evil", and self-actualization. But Atheists also acknowledge coincidence, randomness, natural laws, etc. These things easily coexist as part of a physical and psychological world. It's a classic straw man argument. When you state your position, your opponent replies not to what you said, but to a distorted and exaggerated caricature of what you said, that is obviously harder to defend. Teaching creates a distorted definition of Atheism, and then proceeds to rail against it. But sadly, we are too smart to fall for this.

      August 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  19. Henry

    Luke 13:1-5, “ Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! BUT UNLESS YOU REPENT, YOU TOO WILL ALL PERISH.”

    August 5, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • David

      Is there anyone who doesn't actually perish, in the end?

      Whether via a collapsing tower, auto accident, or cancer – perishing seems to be common destination for all of us. Even Houdini was never heard from again, despite his promises to contact his wife if at all possible.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Al

      Repent all you want, you too will perish. Apparently only Jesus and Elvis will live forever. I once saw Elvis pumping gas.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Henry

      Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” “

      August 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  20. Bob

    The danger of asking God ‘Why me?' is that you will never get an answer back, because there is no personal god there that cares about you, to answer. All these centuries with no clear responses to requests to god and no clear evidence of god ought to make you think about that. No "god" should expect us to believe in such circumstances.

    Christians, show some guts for a change: Take responsibility for your own problems and get over your pathetic, cowardly delusions already. Stop expecting a sky fairy to fix things for you. Do it yourself. You and our country will be better for it.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:45 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.