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.
(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.
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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.
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.
Hey reverend, a congregation down the street just spent 18 million to build a mega church, while I sit here and imagine all the good that have been done, quite literally, lives altered and changed forever, if that $ had been used to assist people, instead of building a temple of worship. Would you consider that evil? Or can you twist and contort the selfishness into praise for Jesus?
Or how bout you use the anger and indignation you feel to do the good you feel they should be doing with their money?
rick likes to offer weak excuses for christian callousness.
Evil grows in cracks and holes
And lives in peoples minds. (Poppy Family)
But the gods need temples and monuments to their greatness, the bigger and more oppulent the better, we must convince the suckers that god is glorified with wealth, pomp and circ*umstance. I say again the prophets have turned to profits, pass the plate. Amen. HALLELUJAH
That wasn't an excuse for anything. It just seems a big waste to complain that someone else isn't doing enough, while you are commenting on a belief blog about the horrors of Christianity.
That wasn't an excuse for anything. It just seems a big waste to complain that someone else isn't doing enough, while you are commenting on a belief blog about the horrors of Christianity.
waste of time to complain that people who are supposedly full of love and compassion aren't doing enough? he's pointing out the truth. he's pointing out the hypocrisy. that's not a waste of time. you want to waste time? get on your knees and pray. that's a waste of time.
pointing out the horrors of a cult is also not a waste of time. if we can get people NOT to join the cult of christianity, then it's time well-spent. cults are not healthy.
Yep, angry because they spent money differently then how he feels they should have spent it. Except maybe they want and deserve a nice place if they are spreading joy and goodness, and promoting charitable acts. Do they? I don't know, most likely this guy doesn't either. Just wanted to ride the high horse and look down on people who aren't doing "enough" good. Sad, really.
The better question: Why not me?
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever would believe in him should not perish, but receive eternal life. – Jesus Christ
I don't get why this is such a big deal. He sent his son to Earth for 33 years, knowing full well that he would come back to HEAVEN after and live in paradise for eternity as the price of men.
Also, why was this what had to happen? Where in the rule book does it say a blood sacrifice is required? Is God not the author or the rule book?
"I love humans so much that I sacrificed my son for them... Although I didn't really have to, but this way makes me look really really benevolent."
Luke Chapter 19 Verse 27:
"But those enemies of mine who do did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me."
god murders babies. read the bible. god drowned babies in his great flood. god specifically murdered babies to punish the pharaoh. god sent bears to kill 42 children because they made fun of one of his bald prophets.
yahweh is a disgusting baby killer.
If God's plan is so far beyond our comprehension, isn't any attempt to see him or his intentions completely futile and hypocritical? Mr. Miller even implies that, when he asks "why me?" after surviving cancer. You can't say "What a loving God to have spared me!" because you have no idea what his motivation was in saving you. You are just a tiny piece in his grand scheme.
So how is that any different, really, from the atheist's view? When you survive a horrific car crash, cancer, etc., all any of us can do is be thankful we're alive and realize how lucky we are to still be here.
If God doesn't exist, then why do we have so many ATHEIST reading stories like this one? why do you spend your time on reading this? ahhh because you all know that GOD DOES EXIST, deep down in your heart you know it. but accepting it will automatically judge you and all the things you normally do. it doesn't matter if its today, tomorrow, or in 20 years, but you all will one day acknowledge that there is a CREATOR a GoD in Heavens. and every tonge will confese the name that's above every name.
Do republicans not read democratic arguments? Vice versa? Any time someone enters a debate, does it prove the other side is right? Come on.
It's always nice to see a confirmation of one of the main reasons people will adopt the cultish fantasies of religion.
It allows them to feel that they are better than someone else.
that's politics, that a fact that everyone knows about, and may be to whoever cares about can make their opinions, but on religion, if you are atheist why commenting senseless stuff on such a positive story about someone that does belives, why do atheist spent so much money on ads around the US attacking christianism? why? if atheist do belive in human emontions are a randome manifestation of atom or I have no clue, why not spending $150,000 helping other humans that do suffer famine and plages?, the answer if because atheist is another group of people controller by evil, of course selfishness and egocentrisim will be in their blood and helping someone else who really needs it is the last thing we can expect from them.
"If God doesn't exist, then why do we have so many ATHEIST reading stories like this one? why do you spend your time on reading this?"
We do not believe that a god or gods exist. Believers, however, DO exist... and way too many of them are as stupid as you are and cause way too many injustices (and even deaths) for humanity.
You just desperately wish this to be true because it would help validate some dodgy ideas you have about magic. But just because you believe in something doesn't make it true. Even if you really really wish it to be true. Think about that...
Because between working and bicycling and cooking and watching tv and helping at the food kitchen and playing scramble with friends, it's sometimes fun to come in hear and read what weak-minded people are writing, trying to defend make-believe stuff. If we can offer some good advice, we try that to – it's like trying to ween someone off of a drug habit. But I know it's hard for them – the thought of not relying any of their made-up gods just makes them want to go p00py.
If Santa Claus does not exist, why do we have so many Christian parents assuring their children that he does? By your "reasoning", that PROVES that Santa is real.
Been there, done that. My life is many times more fulfilling and happy now than it ever has been. Being a believer in God, maybe you could look at it as God rewarding me for being a good person because I have morals without needing to be afraid of Hell. I know many Christians who wish terrible things upon others but do not act on them solely because they don't want to hurt God or go to Hell. I'm glad there is religion for people like that, but for myself, I don't believe and I still have a moral compass. Shocked?
it is very sad that atheist groups are larger every day, but all this was written, all I can say is that first, GOD is above every religion on earth, catholic, evangelisim, mormons and so on are man made stuff, He gave us his WORD and we all have access to it today, we all have our chance to change our live as I did, and as I live a life with God everyday, I have seen and hear stuff you most have clue and call me weak.minded, one day we all weak-minded will be put in test agains those who do feel superior in knowledge and "culture". hopefully I ask in heavens that at least 1 one of you can change and open your eyes to the truth, God did not send his son Jesus in vain, at least if only 1 belive stands still at the end, God has win for the love of ONE. but something for sure is that ONE DAY you will all see his GLORY and you shall know that GOD is the CREATOR
i'm interested in mythology. i've read about odin, ra, zeus and lots of other gods that never existed. yahweh is just another god on the list. interesting stories - but not to be taken literally.
santa is not Christianism, actually santa claus is another trick of satan to make people belive that DEC 25 is the day that Jesus was born, which is another bIG LIE, CHristmas is a pagan holiday and it is not commanded by GOD....so....who ever teaches that is not teaching what God says....
Well damien I do know the truth and your god has no part in it. Nor is it mnecessary for anything in this world.
I don't want to speak a lie, so I'll speak the truth in the SPIRIT, NO ONE KNOWS THE MIND OF GOD AND HOW HE DOES THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH. BUT I HUMBLY BELIEVE HE HAS BEEN WARNING US SINCE THE BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF OUR LIVES, IT IS WRITTEN: "Be clearheaded. keep alert. Your accuser, the devil is on the prowl like a raoring lion, seeking to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Do so in the knowledge that your fellow believers are enduring the same suffering throughout the world. After you have suffured for a little while, the God of all grace, the one who called you into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself restore, empower, strengthen, and establish you.
THE TRUTH IS THAT WE ALL SHALL DRINK FROM THE SAME CUP OF GODS WRATH AS JESUS DID. WHY SHOULD WE BE EXEMPT TO SUFFERING, JESUS SUFFERED FOR OUR SINS, SO WE SHOULD SUFFER AS WELL, IT IS A REMINDER OF WHO IS IN CHARGE EVEN WHEN THINGS GO HORRIBLE.
ALL WHO READ THIS: IT IS YOUR CHOICE TO BELEIVE. BUT DON'T BE UPSET WHEN THE TRUTH COMES AND YOU ARE LEFT BEHIND.
"I don't want to speak a lie, so I'll speak the truth in the SPIRIT,"
I would call that in the spirit of lying.
God has a "mind"?
Every thing you have written is asserted opinion with no facts to back any of it.
Essentially its a bunch of Christian scary tactics that amount to....zip, zilch nada nothing.
"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."
no, it just all makes sense.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
there is no such thing as god. grow up. leave the cult. think for yourself. be a better person.
there are people on this earth that do suffer in the name of Jesus and those who do belive will get their reward in heavens, why does God allows all this to prepare us to make us stronger, he is not willing to get another satan on heavens like the first time. he just wants to make sure that all people that go to heavens trully loves him rembember FREE WILL
Really sophmoric argument actually, easily answered by the layman's theologian CS Lewis. I mean, if atheists get hung up on this stuff, they really haven't searched hard for any decent explanations.
god lets babies die of crib death because it will make them stronger?
god lets women get r.aped because it will make them stronger?
god lets millions around the world starve to death because it will make them stronger?
god lets millions around the world die of cancer because it will make them stronger?
the christian god is disgusting and so are you.
i like how you say the argument is childish but don't actually produce a counter to it. the arguments of CS Lewis are full of logical fallacies. he doesn't disprove Epicurus on anything. there is no flaw in Epicurus' argument. i challenge you to produce one.
It happens because man does it. God didn't make a protective bubble for us, and if he took away the consequences of actions the free will wouldn't really be free will would it? All the situations that furnish opportunities for good actions also fur ish opportunities for bad actins too. You want to exist as good-only automaton then, basically.
LOL, i knew it. you ignore the parts of the argument you don't like. it happens because man does it? man causes hurricanes? man causes babies to die from crib death? man causes tidal waves and earthquakes?
of course you don't answer the argument. if god is all good, why doesn't he stop innocents from dying from causes that are NOT man-made?
Wow, you were talking about EVIL.... Natural things are not that, and you are attempting to equate EVIL with something that can cause PAIN or HARDSHIP. Can you not see the difference? What is it you are arguing? Because Epicurus certainly isn't talking about hurricanes and crib deaths.
To question things out side human understanding is not of the spirit, truth but hinduism, ignorance caused by hindu soul, ignorant desire of a person, One may think himself to be all knowing in his hindu Judaism, ignorant self center ism, secular ism, way of hindu's deniers of truth absolute, known as hindu's, pagans, possessed with hind, filth of hindu Judaism, filthy secularism, in denial of truth absolute, WE DO NOT HAVE ALL THE POWER OF KNOWLEDGE BUT VERY LIMITED IN POWER TO BE AN INEXPEDIENT, BUT VERY DEPENDENT UNIT AS HUMAN BEING. LERAN TO STAY IN YOUR LIMIT HUMAN, THIER WILL NEVER BE A QUESTION IN HINDU jUDASIM. FILTHY SECULARISM.
Yay secularism! : )
Just another typical nonsensical rambling. Cut your throat and do us all a favor.
@NoTheism Nah, I'm chill in real life. Perhaps this is stupidd of me to expect, but I just like normal debates, that's all sir/ma'm.
How can someone have a "normal" debate about the supernatural, just curious?
OK, normal debate. Proposition: "The God of the Bible exists."
You're 1st Affirmative. You begin with your constructive case. Then it's 1st Negative, 2nd Affirmative, 2nd Negative, each with 10 minutes, then thru the order again, except with negatives going 1st, 5 minutes each for rebuttal.
You're on. Go.
@RichardSRussel Sir as I said in my last post I'm going back to studying (finals tomorrow unfortunately :/), but I'm definitely willing to debate. Please email me at email@example.com if you want to, or I'll start it another time if/when I see your name on one of these blogs again. Thanks 🙂
I love the little analogy below. It so neatly captures a fundamental absurdity in the Judeo-Christian belief and I am yet to hear a satisfactory rebuttal from a Christian.
John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."
Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."
Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"
John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."
Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"
John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."
Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."
Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"
Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."
John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."
Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"
Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."
Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"
John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."
Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"
Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts
out of you."
Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"
John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."
Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"
John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."
Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"
Mary: "Well, He gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."
Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"
John: "Hank has certain 'connections.'"
Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."
John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."
Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."
Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."
Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"
John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."
Me: "Who's Karl?"
Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."
Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"
John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."
From the Desk of Karl
1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
2. Use alcohol in moderation.
3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
4. Eat right.
5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
6. The moon is made of green cheese.
7. Everything Hank says is right.
8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
9. Don't use alcohol.
10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.
Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead." vein
Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."
Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."
John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."
Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"
Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."
Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"
Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."
Me: "How do you figure that?"
Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"
Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."
John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."
Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."
John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."
Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."
Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."
Me: "I'm not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon was somehow 'captured' by the Earth has been discounted*. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it cheese."
John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!"
Me: "We do?"
Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."
Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"
John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."
Me: "But...oh, never mind.
Excellent analogy, until right after that little phrase, " Hi I'm John, and this is Mary".
Ahhh... yes ! more Colinisms. Love it ! 😀
So, David, I think I can safely say that I am still yet to get a satisfactory rebuttal from a Christian.
Peace, dud, why did you change your name? Somebody steal your handle? BTW, this is not my work, I copied it from a website, JHuger.com. Unfortunatley the site appears abandoned.
"dude" not "dud"
I'm curious... please demonstrate where -Colin's an-alogy breaks down, or isn't 'isomorphic.' ?
nail on the head.
Yep... there has been a definite uptick in the stealing of monikers. When I say -Bucky Ball getting his taken, and he established a password protected blog through wordpress, I decided it was time for me too.
Colin. I didn't mean to belittle you ( that's a lie, actually I did), but perhaps if you were to present a little more credible analogy I would consider a response.
This is a pretty funny sumation of your point of view, I like it. At the same time I think there is a bit of wisdom to be found in it here: "Me: 'Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him...' "
The only truth anyone can hope for in these matters must come from within the self, no sales pitch required. It may be a long lonely search, but for the mystic who finds their inner truth, there is ample reward now, not after leaving town.
Hnag in there fella, I like your logic.
Colin from San Diego by any chance?
Ruby, no, wish I was.
I've seen this before, and I love it! Anyone who says it is a bad analogy has apparently never actually had a Christian at the door giving them the sales pitch.
To question things out side human understanding is not of the spirit, truth but hinduism, ignorance caused by hindu soul, ignorant desire of a person, One may think himself to be all knowing in his hindu Judaism, ignorant self center ism, secular ism, way of hindu's deniers of truth absolute, known as hindu's, pagans, possessed with hind, filth of hindu Judaism, filthy secularism, in denial of truth absolute, WE DO NOT HAVE ALL THE POWER OF KNOWLEDGE BUT VERY LIMITED IN POWER TO BE AN INEXPEDIENT, BUT VERY DEPENDENT UNIT AS HUMAN BEING.
Might want to brush up on your language skills a little before applying for a job in a call center, dude.
Do all Packies believe this way? Great religion for keeping people stupid.
an interesting subject..... but as soon as I saw it was written by a "pastor" (I'm not a sheep....) I cancelled any plans on reading it. christians are not to be gone to for advice on......... anything
Well said Lexe....
lol. your reply that is not really a reply and your spelling says it all.
A Loving God : definition
A God that forces a couple to have a severely disabled child because abortions are the work of the Devil so that they have to go into bankruptcy caring for the child because their insurance runs out and there is no national health insurance because that again that is a tool of the Devil so that their and their other children's lives are ruined.
bless their little hearts!
Don't you understand? There was this woman who ate a forbidden apple and THAT explains why this couple has to suffer as you mention. It all makes perfect sense, it's our fault for being descendent from this woman who ate an apple.
And god promises to work that trial for their good Rom 8:28.
Suffering is a necessary and benificial part of the Christian life.
So why was everyone so upset by the shooting at the theater as by that reasoning it was really really beneficial. People should have been dancing in the streets.
L2ms yep I'm hating. You may quote me, but that wasn't hate-filled at all. I'm taking a study break, it's sunny out, and the Olympics are on...I'm happy as a lark, there's no hate involved w/that at all lol.
I hope you are studying something that is true or it's just a waste of time and money, just sayin'
I'm majoring in social studies education w/minors in management, political science, and history. I hope all of those are true enough.
Remain skeptical, question the claim and demand proof.
Why is it that so many religious philosophers think morality is somehow dependent on belief in a god or in some way enhanced by belief in a god? The morality of most atheists and secular humanists is virtually indistinguishable from the confessed morality of most mainstream beliefs – nonviolence, charity, honesty, etc. Indeed, to the extent that the morality of the secular humanists and atheists I know differs, it tends to be MORE accepting, especially in the way it treats $exual minorities and other beliefs.
Second, I am at a loss as to how one’s morality is somehow “better” or “deeper” (god, I hate that word, as it implies a sophistication that is largely absent in religious beliefs) if it is linked to a supernatural lawgiver of some kind. Does that not make the believer’s morality less worthy, as it is not performed out of selfless motives, but in the hope of some long term post-mortem reward, and is therefore inherently motivated by self-interest.
At least Buddhism refers to money being given to the poor as "water flowing to it's natural level."
Enlightenment is seen as the realization that there is no "giver" to reap some kind of cosmic reward.
Wherr do your morals come from apart from God, what gives them weight and permanence?
You must read a bit more on this. Even the greatest atheist writers say that is the something they could not explain. Where does morality comes from... if not for God who defines what is good and what is bad, without God, everything goes. Science say that evolution is based on strong over weak... why would a murder be bad. Animals still kill each other, so why not us if we all come from the same cells. Apart from God, your morality is just your opinion, and so it is the same of person on the other side of the world. Two could be different but you cannot say yours is better because you say 'don't kill' and because they 'might be OK with it.." You value human life, they don't. Who is right? If we are nothing but cells, obviously easily reproduced, why would life have value?
"if there is no God, then why do we have a sense of outrage and horror when suffering and tragedy occur?"
You mean to say that your belief in a magical man in the sky is the only thing that makes you horrified and outraged at senseless suffering? I don't see the connection. I'm an atheist, but you can bet I'm horrified and outraged by senseless suffering. If Nietzsche reacted with indifference to a natural disaster, it proves nothing except that Nietzsche was a jerk.
Think of it the other way around: horror and outrage give rise to a belief in a God who causes, or could have stopped these things.
Nietzsche was no jerk and definitely is being mis-used by the author of the article.
I find the opposite of that more compelling: If there IS a god, why do we have a sense of outrage and horror when suffering and tragedy occur?"
If there is a god and we really trust that every event is part of his master plan that we are not capable of understanding, but we trust that everything in this plan is ultimately good, why would we sense outrage?
If you believe there is no God then it basically takes the meaning out of life. You look at life in a much more limited way as you think life ends when you die.
Of course you don't see the connection. You're an atheist which means you have replaced faith in God with faith in yourself. You are your own god and you are the measure of truth and falsehood. That's ok. You're worldview is radically different from the author's, hence you don't see the connection. The author, however, is correct.
I would much rather have faith in myself than faith in an imaginary diety. No gods, never has been, never will be. Only humans and their imaginations.
John 14:6 asserts that: "You look at life in a much more limited way as you think life ends when you die."
To the contrary, I think that my life here on Earth is 100% of what I'm going to get, and that necessarily includes all the good parts, so I'm enjoying it to the hilt. It's you who think that your life on Earth is essentially trivial and pale in comparison to what comes afterward who think of life in a limited way. Just be glad we're right and you're wrong, because, according to the Bible, chances that you'll spend the afterlife in the fun place rather than the warm place are pretty dim, unless you're one of the 144,000 holiest people who ever lived.
"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."...This is the heart of his argument and the one given to scared and confused children in church asking amazingly clearheaded questions.
I would say "shame on the Shaman" but the manipulative pastor has no shame.
Yes, Nate, I noticed that lame claim too.
- A real smart god would know exactly what our human brains need as evidence.
- A real powerful god would be able to provide it.
- A real loving god would do so... without the mortal danger of misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
Intrersting that prophet changed to profit over the history of religions. Do you think that pastor Keller fits that mold?
Prayer changes things .
Once the chidren are brainwashed it is very difficult to deprogram them.
Other living things have been sacrificed as required.
Preying on children changes them.
howd that Santa thing work out for all the children that just believed?
Between the killing of first-born sons and dominion over the animals (not to mention the killing of all inhabitants of cities and sowing salt into the ground, etc.), I can barely even remember whose daughters were given over to to r*pe, etc.
No offense, but I think I'll pass on God's supposed benevolence.
It conceivably makes you feel better. But it doesn't change anything else. But hey, if it makes you feel better and more at peace then I say knock yourself out.
Funny, I've prayed and prayed that your insipid little message would change, but it never does. Maybe you're wrong.
atheism is in fact wonderful for children and all kinds of people! However, I wouldn't apply atheism nor christianity to say a begonia (and not too much sunlight either). Atheism stops deadening brain cells and frees them up for meditation, as well as encouraging productivity and real contribution to society. it's a fact. it is written.
I'm a Christian, not an extreme one mind you, but a faithful one. I don't look down atheists, I mean all of us have a right to believe or not believe in what we want. But gosh...the comments on these pages, they're just so hateful. I understand disagreeing w/someone but to harshly criticize their beliefs? This is a public forum so obviously you can, but the loads of negativity and hated spewing from these comments is just sad. Why not do something positive instead of sending comments or have an actual polite debate? You may get likes from others that are fine w/negativity but that doesn't mean being so rude is the right thing to do.
Tens of thousands of innocent civilians dead.
George Bush used his military to invade Iraq because he believed his god told him it was the right thing to do
Who is hateful?
What? Do you really think that we get some sort of perverted pleasure by defending what is right? We're fighting and we're not going away!
See, it's that kind of stuff I'm talking about. I'm not much of a commenter since college and work limits me on time, but I do like reading rational debates. What does that comment achieve @sybaris? Do you expect me to dash all of my beliefs b/c of a smark-aleck response? Come on...I just ask of people on both sides to grow up and have somewhat friendly debates w/out being a complete a.s.s.
David, in his Psalms, thanks God for hating his enemies. God is the quintessential hater.
".I just ask of people on both sides to grow up and have somewhat friendly debates w/out being a complete a.s.s."
who is hateful?
I did not see one ounce of sybaris being impolite to you. It is just a typical response from a christian like yourself when someone points out the obvious to you. You get all twisted-up and rear your intolerant ugly head. You fail terribly waggy!
@wag729, some of the commenters are a big rough... does that make their arguments any less valid or sound? I think not...
If you're concerned about posts on a blog, I can't imagine how sensitive you must be IRL.
Haha fair enough. I honestly am not hating on him though lol. All I'm saying is the snide remarks and sarcasm gets a bit much. Idc if you're here to promote your beliefs, that's great! I just prefer specific mannerisms is all. I apologize if I wasn't clear on that @VoiceofReason.
You said, "I just ask of people on both sides to grow up"
I'll second that. Can we start by shedding infantile beliefs in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and other mythical beings?
You didn't respond to sybaris about george bush and god, you avoided it because it's truth.
OK, this is about the 20th comment I've seen about how "hateful" the comments from atheists are, and not ONE of them has provided a single example. It's not hateful to point out that the emperor has no clothes; to the contrary, many people would take it as a kindness, especially if it's pointed out before you go running around naked in public making an ass of yourself. (See, I'm trying to help you NOT make an ass of yourself; that's not the same as CALLING you an ass, and even if it were, that's not the same as hating you.)
Well said Voice. 🙂
wag: The issue wouldn't exist so severely if we weren't seeing the damage christianity causes. It's not hate when we stand up for equal rights. We see it all the time...religion dictating on basic things-contraception; abortion; gay rights; religious freedom rights...not everyone believes in your same god, so not everyone should be forced to endure it...it's your belief, not mine...I choose to believe on facts and evidence from more than one source and coming to the same conclusion, you choose to believe from a book that was written 2000 years ago and has never been updated, then christians take bits and pieces of that book to try to tell others how to live...the buybull can never be used in a court of law, except in situations like the Andrea Yates case where she was found not guilty by reason of insanity due to religious psychosis...it shouldn't be hard to see..if your buybull can't be used in the laws of the land, then you need to re-evaluate your belief....look at the evidence on both sides and then tell me who is hating....open your mind a little.
"No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says. He is always convinced that it says what he means" George Bernard Shaw
We're not hateful...we're just standing up for something christians care little about.
Constantly hearing I deserve to burn in hell for not believing gets annoying after a while.
@RichardSRussel, I should have been more clear from my first post. I'm not grouping everyone together into a hate-fileld category. There are numerous on both sides, there just happens to be more atheists on this blog than Christians it seems, that's all. For all that I know the %'s could be the same. As for the GWB comment, I avoided it b/c I don't speak for other people. It's a simple as that. I speak for myself and what I believe in. Bush may have acted in an evangelical sort of way but that doesn't mean that mixes w/my beliefs.
I don't have a problem with the Christian folks, or any other religious folks, as long as they don't proselytize their religion to non believers. Many of these non believers hold to their own highly developed belief systems. So to proselytize to them is the same as trampling on beliefs they may cherish and hold dear just as you do yours, yet you wonder why the comments you read can be so nasty. I personally think all humans have the right to believe in whatever belief system that gives them comfort as long as they don't use those beliefs to harm others who may believe differently. Whenever you proselytize, you can expect a negative reaction from non believers especially among the more militant types. These people tend to think your kind are always trying to subvert their beliefs by trying to replace them with your own 'for their own good'. My best advise is to believe in your religion ...quietly. Go ahead and believe their 'souls' are lost and on their way to hell. It won't affect you and you can do nothing about it anyway. Just leave them alone to believe as they wish.
@TruthPrevails and @fritz...this is what I'm talking about. Truly enjoyed reading both of your posts. Back to studying 🙂
Atheists are harshly criticizing the logical underpinnings of religion and belief in God. Why, because Atheists have seen far too many examples of Christians attempting to force their beliefs on everyone else. I am all for peace, love, compassion espoused by fundies, but it doesn't end there. It NEVER ends there.
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." – Mark 16:15
"preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." 2 Tim 4:2
See your deity commands you to spread this garbage to everyone you can. Conversion has always been central to the major religions. Of course Christians will always say that they just spread the word and it's the Holy Spirit that does the conversion. My friends, this is absolutely splitting hairs. Their goal is still conversion, and I don't care for that mentality one bit.
I hope that helps explain some of the harsh criticism you're observing here. There's a reason for it. You may not deserve it personally, but if you t!the you're funding many of those who DO deserve it.
@exlonghorn can't argue w/that.
You're a christian, george bush is a christian, bush said god told him to do it. Hello?
The various Inquisitions. Who is hateful?
But you sound like a nice person. I would probably avoid calling you christarded to your face. I would just point out silly make-believe stuff and weak-minded decision-making when they become apparent.