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. Shiloh

    “Dr. A.E. Wilder-Smith was one of the two or three most important scientists in my life. He very powerfully influenced my intellectual development and my change of opinion on the origin of man. His writings, in particular The Creation of Life and The Scientific Alternative to Neo-Darwinian Evolutionary Theory, and the discussions I had with him were outstanding and had a great impact on my views and thoughts on origins. He was a courageous, supportive and gracious man, and he is greatly missed.”

    —Dr. Dean Kenyon
    Professor of Biology, San Francisco State University

    August 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Just more religious propaganda, fail.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Shiloh

      How convenient.......

      August 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      He was a spreader of lies and the world is better off with him gone. What really makes people like him dishonest is that they propose that if they pokes holes in evolution it will automatically make their postion "true", it doesn't, they still have to prove it. So they try proving it and will lie to do so. ,

      August 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  2. Voice of Reason

    Hey Believers! Please give us ONE (1) good reason to believe in your god. Post with your own thoughts not something you read in the bible or what your god said or jesus or any other supposed prophet said. Your voice, your words and please, PLEASE make sense. Thank you.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No one else ever died for me.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Pete

      "No one else ever died for me."

      Oh please, our military men and women have and you dishonor them by saying something so stupid.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I deeply respect and admire the sacrifices of our military. But their oath is to the U.S. Constiitution, under which I am blessed to live, not to me as an individual. Their sacrifice,often inspired by love of their fellow man, is not in the same category as Christ, though as close as possible in many circomstances. Jesus took on the cross for me individually. Thus, I revere Christ as my Savior and the U.S. military as my defender of freedom to worship Him.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      Billy Boy.....you are so full of dung. The soldiers died for you and you compare them to an Iron Age comic book character?

      August 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  3. nojinx

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

    The problem with this logic is it ignores the fact that a Judeo/Christian/Muslim god is the crucial point of the problem of suffering. If you remove the deity from the problem, the problem (the conflict with an omnipotent/omniscient/morally good god and allowing suffering) goes away with the deity. It is only because of the assumption of the aspects of a god that cause suffering to be incompatible with the god.

    August 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • ME II


      August 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      The whole concept is pure intellectual insanity.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  4. joe kool

    20,000 children die everyday, its all their fault. and the next day 20,000 more will die and on and on and on. Will children never learn?

    August 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      The really cool thing about it though is that their god gave them free will!

      August 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • ME II

      In the next 80 or so years over 7 billion people will die.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @ME II
      "In the next 80 or so years over 7 billion people will die."

      How convenient for you.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • ME II

      @Voice of Reason,
      Not sure what you mean by that. Convenient, how so?

      August 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @ME II

      Unless you are 2 years old you will not be around to prove it.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • ME II

      @Voice of Reason,
      It seems rather self-evident to me, i.e. there are around 7 billion people in the world, most of whom will die within 80 years, plus any additional people that are born in the next 80 years that die young.
      I was just attempting, apparently without success, to put death rates in perspective. That's all.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @ME II

      Got it! Sometimes you have to hit me in the head with a hammer, thanks!

      August 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • ME II

      no problem. I've met my share of hammers, too.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • ME II

      @Voice of Reason,
      I just realized that my comment sounded like a prophecy. I didn't even think of that. Guess I should have said "Over the next 80 years... " instead of "In...".

      August 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  5. joe kool

    Love how the pastor blames humans for high Enthropy.
    Blaming the victim for all the suffering and decay in the world, is like blaming the jews for the holocaust.
    There is no way to remove gods responisibility for Suffering, if he is Omni-everything.. unless..... Chirstians are polytheistic? Oh yea they are, the cosmic battle between the god of good and the god of evil.

    August 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  6. Henry

    Jesus says in John 12: 47- 50, “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

    In Matthew 13: 10-15, “The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:

    “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
    In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.
    Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

    August 6, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      "So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

      So he is not really god, that part was made up by later christians. Why would god have to tell himself what to say?

      The rest of this post is the same message any good cult would push as knowledge. "We can't know and those who require proof will be lost, if you just believe without needing evidence you are the one blessed." It is a joke of a message, would anyone apply this type of "reasoning" to any other belief in life? No of course not, it is only acceptable in religion, otherwise it is called self-delusion.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • David Larimer

      Ok – so I'm repeating this comment for Henry. This part of the thread is newer anyway:

      Do any of the rest of us atheists also wonder about the mentality behind bible-spouting posts like Henry's? I wonder often what thought processes lead the regurgitation of bible quotes, when the thousand preceding comments should have convinced anyone that we don't agree on the basic authority of the bible. I thought the purpose of blogs (naive me) was to try to convince the other side about the right-ness of your position. Fundamentalists keep going back to the same well as if they hadn't heard anything. It's like being stuck in Bank of America's voice-mail hell. Hello ... anybody there? or is this just a recording?

      Ok, I realize my tone is snarky, but my question is serious. What am I missing here? Why do fundamentalists just keep yelling louder about the same book, when it should be obvious to them that they are not communicating on any level that will be understood?

      August 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      henry: pretty interesting....for those who believe it. for the rest of us, it is just so much blah, blah, blah

      August 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @David Larimer

      I think I can answer or at least speculate on that even though I am not a believer. It's all they have for answers, whatever is in that book is their answer to everything. That's it, nothing more, no substance.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • nojinx

      David, I really think it comes down to a desire to reinforce and defend those things we want to believe in. You could call it a survival instinct, but ultimately we choose to believe what makes us most comfortable or affirms our conceived paradigm. Things like, truth, logic, empirical evidence or deduction all go to the wayside when it comes to making the world fit the way we want it to be.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • George

      It must be true what they say about atheists, that they don't know how to read?

      John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims


      As a former christian my guess is, most christians have doubts, when they go and address these doubts with a religious leader or even just a fellow parishoner, the "answers" are bible passages. They accept these "answers" to their doubts and therefore they think it is reasonable for others to accept them as well, even though other bible passages can usually be found to contradict the quoted one, and this makes the bible the "Big Book of Multiple Choice".

      August 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • David Larimer

      @Voice of Reason,

      I agree completely, but I don't understand how a purportedly logical person can react like this.

      If I make a statement and someone challenges it: "I don't believe you, show me your justification." My reaction is to muster up my evidence. That's the way everything else in human society works. If my evidence is questioned, I go to the citations, but I never loop back and "see ... I said it, therefore it must be true." Why is this universal logic suspended in christians? They certainly don't do this in the rest of their lives.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • S. Hagar


      “It was real. [Aliens] were plugged into me. It was a download situation. This was long before computers or any kind of wireless … Looking back now, it was like, ‘F___, they downloaded something into me!’ Or they uploaded something from my brain, like an experiment.”

      August 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • David Larimer

      I presume that George is a real person typing on a keyboard, but he sure looks like BofA's voice-mail hell.

      See you're seeing what I mean in real time ... spouting bible-quotes. No attempt to communicate.

      George, tell me why I should pay attention to your verse from John? And what it's supposed to mean?

      August 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Reading Rainbow


      "All the evidence seems to suggest that integration into human society is the aliens' ultimate goal. And all their efforts and activities appear to be geared toward complete control of the humans on Earth. Indeed, the abductees are already living with the burden of alien visitation and manipulation.” - David M. Jacobs, PhD.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @David Larimer

      You see David? I had struggled with your dilemma and frankly I still do but what I have found is that their intolerance to answer reasonably has in essence created an intolerance in me for their nonsense. It's to the point now that I just get pis*sed-off at their stupidity, their hate, their bigotry and believe me the list could go on and on. They are just plain crazy, delusional idiots, simply f*ucked-up real bad.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • David Larimer

      @Voice of Reason,

      My patience with religious non-logic comes and goes. Sometimes I stay away for months. Then I come back to see if anyone else has actually broken out of christian voice-mail-hell. Unfortunately I've never been rewarded, so I suspect you're right. Maybe my patience will wear out again by the end of the day.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • sam stone

      george: pull the bible out of your rectum.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • just sayin


      It must be true what they say about atheists, that they don't know how to read?

      John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

      Ah yes your christ was so impressive his followers fled like scared sheep for his trial. There were no miracles, just hot air from a delsuional insane cultic leader whos follwoers even knew he was not a God.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  7. StoryMing

    I suspect the *real* question behind our "Why?" is actually, "Does God care?"

    Anyone ever seen the aria, 'Ach Ich Fuhl's', from Mozart's "The Magic Flute"? That piece (if well-acted) is one of the most powerful 'answers' to that question I have ever encountered; having seen that, I don't think I will ever again mistake God's silence for indifference.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • TheRationale

      17 children under the age of 5 die every minute.

      No. God doesn't not care.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  8. TheRationale

    The actual answer is he doesn't exist.

    And since when do you need a God to have morality? How enormously small must your mind and heart be to admit to that need?

    August 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Shiloh

      How do you know?

      August 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • TheRationale

      Because there are no sound arguments nor evidence in his favor. Enter the null hypothesis. The question actually falls on you. How do you know there is one? Burden of proof. You need to meet it.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  9. Wrenn_NYC

    So, what we take away from this is that it's 'okay' not to question. Not to think, to learn, to know.. because we cannot know. We are 'little children' in the sight of God. He knows all, we can't understand him.

    You know what happens to children when you constantly put them down and tell them they are stupid? When you instill in them a profound sense of inadequacy?

    First, you are setting up a dependency on you in them. Second, you make them question their own worth, all the time.

    You break them.

    Child abuse, pure and simple.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      That's their plan, get 'em before they can think for themselves, indoctrinate them, place them into private schools and if they can't afford private schools they push public schools to teach religion. They are stalkers, abusers, perverts and dangerous, dangerous individuals.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Trying to understand god is like trying to understand Tony the Tiger.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Rational Libertarian

      Careful now, you might give them an idea, like; Have you had your god's goodness gra*pe nuts this morning? Or, My Tummy Goes Yum Yum for jesus jello!

      August 6, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      @ Voice of Reason...

      Careful. I'm a product of those private catholic schools. 😉 And I was actually taught to question. That my questions and the results of my questions did not, perhaps, go the way the priests and nuns who taught me wanted it to go... That does happen.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      I lasted two years in catholic schools after the nuns beat the crap out of me with their HUGE wooden rosary beads.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • exlonghorn


      At least Tony the Tiger is pretty up front about selling you cereal. Can't say the same for religions.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  10. Shiloh

    I'd like to thank Mr. Keller for his article – his messages are always right on. I've been following the Lord for 30+ years and it has made all the difference in my life – He has been so incredible. I've had a lot of hard things in my life, but He has redeemed them and brought good out of them – I would hate to see where my life would be if I hadn't taken the risk to believe in Him and trust Him. One thing I've always appreciated is that He asks us to live Him with our minds as well as our emotions and our hearts. I love reading the historical writings of those from long ago – they go very deep and it is beautiful to see what their God-given minds created. From authors such as C.S.Lewis, Francis Schaefer, Soltzeneitzen (sp?), Spurgeon, Doestovsky (sp?) and so forth. I love hearing how God has met people and brought them through horrors, i.e. the Hiding Place, Bonhoeffer, etc. I appreciate the 14th century piece "The Cloud of Unknowing" written anonymously by a 14th century monk. The unknowing is part of the risk – that's the adventure part – to know I'm not in control but something bigger than all of us is.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Shiloh

      Correction – love Him with our minds

      August 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • MarkinFL

      That's great that it works for you. I appreciate the fact that you did not push it on anyone else. Peace.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Shiloh

      Thanks Mark – God doesn't drag anyone into His love, He pursues but He doesn't drag anybody. They have to be willing to take the risk. Our society is so risk phobic these days – everything has to be guaranteed – yuck! What fun is that? I loved to roam around the Dakotas by myself because you never knew what you might encounter – it was an awesome experience. That's the downside of no longer having a frontier to challenge us, everything has to be controlled.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  11. Hypatia

    Isn't it funny how xians are so obsessed with what goes on in other people's beds and heads?

    August 6, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  12. joe kool

    SO before " The Fall" (in which man is too blame for Suffering),
    God created carnivores with their carnivore teeth to chew grass?
    Did God create the T-Rex knowing that sometime in the future, the T-Rex would be killing other animals? Did sharks eat seaweed before The Fall?

    August 6, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Kelp builds strong bones!

      August 6, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • ME II

      plankton... er.... algae... yeah that's what sharks ate and they need very large and sharp teeth to filter out the algae. yeah, that's the ticket.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      The only way to believe such, is to not learn science. Biology, Chemistry, Physics... all refute parts of creation 'science'.

      Which is what some fundamentalists are doing, keeping scientific learning from their children. The result of which is going to keep them from a lot of possible career choices, because they will either be biased against scientific study, or they will be so far behind the average that it will be close to impossible to catch up.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Rational Libertarian


      If only more people realized this. People are missing out on a tasty and healthy source of nutrition.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Wrenn, you do realize that basic tenets of scientific inquiry as well as the university system at large were started in Catholic monasteries don't you?

      August 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Bill Deacon,
      Did you know that the Catholic church acknowledges evolution as reasonable?

      Concerning human evolution, the Church has a more definite teaching. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul. Pope Pius XII declared that "the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—[but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God" (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36)

      August 6, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Also, Wren was referring to fundies who are notoriously science averse. The Catholic church has learned some lessons and now accepts most science and lets god work in the background "guiding" it. Its still silly, but at least it does seriously not impede progress.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yes Mark, I am Catholic and I am familiar with the catechism regarding evolution. Your statement seems to support my position which is that people who say Christians are anti-science are ill informed. Some one will now, no doubt, throw up Galileo. A little research will show that the reason Galileo was persecuted was not for his scientific views but because of a conflict of egos between him and a Cardinal. While this fact doesn't reflect very much better on the Church itself, it does show that the science involved was not the issue.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon,
      Some "tenets" of scientific inquiry can be traced as far back as Aristotle, Archimedes, and Thales. Claiming that the RCC, the de facto only religion, for much of the middle ages, is responsible for science is like claiming the Roman Empire is responsible for Christianity.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Problem is that MANY Christians are anti-science. The VAST majority are protestant and most of those are fundies.
      The catholics on the other hand are a bunch of hypocrites on birth control. Dancing around "artificial" vs "natural" birth control when they both have the same goal. It should either be right or wrong. Since when did your god care about latex?

      August 6, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Shiloh

      It's not as black and white an argument as that – there are plenty of scientists who believe in God. I went to Bible school in the north of England and one of the other students there was a geneticist from Ireland (Simon) who worked for the leading geneticist in the UK. They both were followers of Christ, and Simon commented that they were by no means alone in that academic community. When someone sees the order and detail of design it becomes difficult for many to write it off as coincidence or random chance. That's kind of like having a tornado go through a junk yard and have a 747 emerge in its wake.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon,
      "...my position which is that people who say Christians are anti-science are ill informed."

      Sorry. If your point is that Christianity is not anti-science, then I have little issue with that. And even though there are many Christians and Christian sects that I would classify as anti-science, I don't think generalizing it to Christianity as a whole would be fair.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Calling it random chance is deliberately ignoring an entire theory. And many people will never shake an ingrained belief as long as they can emotionally reconcile the two. The Catholic church is the most successful at dancing around the issues.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • ME II

      I was agreeing with you that there are many scientist who are believers. But then you lost it with, "That's kind of like having a tornado go through a junk yard and have a 747 emerge in its wake."
      747s are not natural objects and are in fact designed, by humans. We know this because we designed them, not because we can't understand them.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Shiloh

      @ME II

      What I was referring to was a junkyard, perhaps more specifically an airplane junkyard – bits and pieces – and having a natural phenomenon such as a tornado "just happen" to combine the bits and pieces into a detailed 747 – it's not very likely that that much order would come out of disorder without purposeful engineering of the bits and pieces.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • ME II

      What I was referring to was a junkyard, perhaps more specifically an airplane junkyard – bits and pieces – and having a natural phenomenon such as a tornado "just happen" to combine the bits and pieces into a detailed 747 – it's not very likely that that much order would come out of disorder without purposeful engineering of the bits and pieces.

      I understand what you are trying to say, but that analogy is false. Nature does not 'build' recognizable, useful, objects by chance.
      This 747 analogy is commonly used in reference to evolution, which is not a random process.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • ME II

      "it's not very likely that that much order would come out of disorder without purposeful engineering of the bits and pieces."

      This, I think, is a confusion of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which, despite common understand does not 'forbid' order from disorder.
      For example, snowflakes, and every other crystal, form order out of disorder.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • ME II

      should read: "despite common misunderstanding"

      August 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Shiloh

      So who is engineering it if it's not random?

      August 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • ME II

      "So who is engineering it if it's not random?"
      Again, I as.sume you are talking about evolution. It is unguided but not random. This is due to the natural selection part of the Theory of Evolution, because those organisms better suited to their environment reproduce more successfully and those less suited propagate less successfully. Similar to animal husbandry, or breeding, but nature, in sense of food, weather, geography, predators, etc. do the selecting.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Shiloh

      How did the organisms get there so that they could survive?

      "It was an unforgettable experience to listen to his lectures on fundamental problems on the evolutionary doctrine and Biblical creation. His outstanding personality, his far-reaching knowledge and his unique talent to fascinate during lectures attracted many listeners throughout the world. In remembering Wilder-Smith, innumerable Christians are grateful to their Lord for this fearless witness who helped many to jettison pseudo-scientific ballast and to find access to the living Word of God. May our Lord grant that the mighty witness of Wilder-Smith may continue to reach many people through this present work even after his home-going, and that it may glorify the Creator of heaven and earth."

      —Professor Dr. Dr. Theodor Ellinger
      Rector of Cologne University, Cologne, Germany

      August 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • ME II

      "How did the organisms get there so that they could survive?"
      That is abiogensis and I don't know how life origianlly started on Earth.
      There are many hypotheses, such as RNA-world, Metabolism-first, etc. but there is no conclusive evidence yet on what actually happened.

      p.s. Quotes from someone about their opinions of someone else is not evidence.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bill Deacon,

      you say 'people who say Christians are anti-science are ill informed.'

      Clearly some Christians (particularly Catholics) are not anti-science. The prevailing "Christian" in the USA with a plurality of 26.3% (versus Catholics at 23.9%) are Evangelical Protestants. The noisiest of these fundamentalists are most certainly anti-science.

      While we really shouldn't generalize like this, grouping the Catholics and Main-line Protestants (23.9 + 18.1) is 42%, or more than half of the 78.4% of Americans who profess Christianity probably blend a belief in God with an acceptance of scientific explanations. This is a very quiet group compared to the fundies.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Christians, who are typically united only around some very central dogma no matter their denomination, are generally saddled with being stereotyping no matter where they fall on the curve of intellectual deftness or dogmatic adherence; while non-believers seem to be non-group oriented thus allowed themselves the luxury of deniability to any "atheist dogma". It's a nice convenience to be able to adhere to your group when reinforcement is beneficial but distance yourself from it when the group fallacy is exposed.

      August 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon,
      I don't know if convenient is the correct term, but the fact that there is no "athiest dogma," is directly related to it being a lack of belief, a non-doctrine.

      While it may seem convenient, my opinion is that the only adherence going on is the adherence to evidence. In other words, it is not the group that Atheists adhere to, but the evidence. If there were significant evidence discovered supporting the supernatural, or god specifically, I suspect that Atheists could become beleivers practically overnight and Atheism would essentially be extinct.

      Perhaps one way to look at it is, the lack of evidence is the only thing that keeps the lack of belief alive.

      August 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  13. Henry

    My question is: Why atheists don’t speak, write, and debate about other non-existing subjects, besides God?

    August 6, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Most atheists are skeptics in general. If you do an internet search for "skeptics" you will find them and yes they talk about aliens, ect. Check out "Skeptic Magazine".

      August 6, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Because no one else is trying to force us live by the rules of their arcane religious beliefs associated with other non-existent things.

      If religions kept to themselves you'd be shocked how fast interest would fall off. However, while our society is unduly influenced by supersti.tion it will keep my attention.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Hypatia


      August 6, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • ME II

      They do. Read "God is not Great" by Christopher Hitchens, read about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, etc.

      However, most other religious followers in the US are not trying to force their beliefs into our lives like Christians do, e.g. Creationism/ID in science class, school endorsed prayer, "in God we trust", banning gay marriage, etc. so they do require more effort/response/rebuttal.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • sam stone

      henry: because people do not use other non-existent beings to attempt to influence public policy

      August 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  14. Henry

    Famous atheists last words!

    Sir Thomas Scott Last Words before Death:
    "Up until this time, I thought that there was no God neither Hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am delivered to perdition by the righteous judgment of the Almighty."

    M.F. Rich: "Terrible horrors hang over my soul! I have given my immortality for gold; and its weight sinks me into a hopeless, helpless Hell!"

    Thomas Paine
    "I would give worlds if I had them, that The Age of Reason had never been published. O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! . . No, don't leave; stay with me! Send even a child to stay with me; for I am on the edge of Hell here alone. If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one."

    DAVID HUME, the atheist, cried: "I am in the flames!" His despair was an awful scene.

    Sir Francis Newport, the head of an English atheist club said, “You need not tell me there is no God for I know there is one, and that I am in His presence! You need not tell me there is no hell. I feel myself already slipping. Wretches, cease your idle talk about there being hope for me! I know I am lost forever! Oh, that fire! Oh, the insufferable pangs of hell!”

    August 6, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      All lies spread by Christian propagandists.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Only someone that could believe in sky fairies would fall for that load of hooie.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • ME II

      For some reason death bed conversion stories are often fict.itious, please cite your sources.

      for example, even young-earth stalwart AIG debunks Darwin's supposed conversion at http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2009/03/31/darwins-deathbed-conversion-legend

      August 6, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims


      These lies are not spread to change the minds of atheists, they are spread to keep you from changing yours.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Brett

      How about a quote from someone who was alive within the last three hundred years? You're quoting people who barely knew the world was round.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Wrenn_NYC


      Most deathbead conversions are not true. Most were made up by family members so that they could bury their relative in the church yard.

      Hume's supposed one stated above is provably false. His grave, in fact, had to be guarded after his death because of hostility towards him due to his atheism. Yeah. they expectation was that CHRISTIANS would deface it. Good going Christians.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  15. Brett

    How noble of this parasite to come out with this drivel. I'm sure it has nothing to do with his book that he is shilling. I've never heard anyone sum up the idea of God better than George Carlin. I believe I am a fairly decent human. I try to do good and help others when I can. I make mistakes and have said and done things only to later regret them. I hope I can use those mistakes to learn. I have managed to live 37 years all without the aid of some book of fairy tales or listening to some charlatan in a three piece suit and a rolex who preaches about humility. If I am wrong at the end and in fact there is a God, I'd like to think I would still be ok with the life I have led. If I am to be punished for eating a hamburger on Friday or some other such foolishness, than so be it. Too many times the idea of "faith" seems too close to "slavery". I'm sure I'll know plenty of people in Hell anyway.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Shiloh

      Hell is not a group experience – it is total isolation, separation and torment.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  16. TG

    Our Creator, Jehovah God, is committed to our everlasting happiness. However, since the rebellion in the Garden of Eden some 6000 years ago, he has allowed suffering to continue to prove that Satan's way of ruling is an utter failure.

    Satan questioned God's way of ruling by asking Eve: "Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?”, knowing full well that the "tree of knowledge of good and bad" was off limits to both Adam and Eve.(Gen 2:16, 17) He thus set in motion the issue of universal sovereignty, challenging God's right to rule.

    Upon Adam and Eve rebelling, God immediately made arrangements to undo the damaging effects of this defiance by stating the first prophecy, in which there is now seen a "woman" (God's loyal angelic hosts of spirit creatures) and her "seed" (Jesus as the primary one, Gal 3:16) that is at enmity with the "serpent" (Satan, Rev 12:9) and his "seed" (those who side with Satan), and whereby the "serpent" deals a heal wound (only temporary when Jesus was put to death but later resurrected by God) to the "woman's seed" (those who firmly side with Jehovah God) but the "woman's seed" later deals a head wound (permanent, Satan's destruction, Rev 20:10) or deathblow to the "serpent" and his "seed".(Gen 3:15)

    The apostle Paul wrote that "the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now."(Rom 8:20-22)

    Suffering caused by Satan's challenging God's sovereignty will soon end, for Revelation 21:3-5 says: "With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away. And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.(in making the earth a paradise, Luke 23:43)” Also, he says: “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”

    August 6, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Which God??

      TG, I am happy for you. Your delusion is of such comfort to you and those of your ilk. Does it help the others in the padded room you share with them? Cuckoo, cuckoo

      August 6, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Cosmo

      To Funny...Silly Jehovahs ..

      August 6, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Anybody who believes the universe is 6,000 years old is retarded, simple as that. Even human civilization predates that. The agricultural revolution was about 10,000 years ago, which gave bith to civilization.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Brett

      I couldn't even get all the way through it. It reminds me exactly of how mind numbingly dull a mass is. A room full of people comparing clothes, silently judging each other, all the while listening to some self absorbed blowhard spout more of the same gibberish. One of the things I distinctly remember about going to church when I was a kid is how often everyone would look at their watches. With the exception of a few loons, everyone else was there out of obligation and couldn't get out fast enough.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • MarkinFL

      HAHA, you noticed that too? I never heard anyone discussing the sermon as they left church, ever.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Shiloh

      MarkinFL – how many churches have you been in? We have plenty of sermon discussions – but I've always been in fellowships that focused on teaching and had pastors who had that gift. My adult Sunday School class facilitator is a chemistry and physics teacher and his teaching is awesome because of it.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • MarkinFL

      OH no, I am talking about typical suburban churches full of people that go because it is what they have always done and will always do because they have been told it is what a believer should do.
      MOST (not all) Americans that claim a religious affiliation could not tell you what the difference is between their flavor of Christianity and others. Maybe a little between Catholicism and Protestant brand X(and it would just be the obvious stuff, not theology). I'll bet that there are a huge number of Protestants that have no idea why the are called Protestant.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Shiloh

      From a Biblical perspective true Christians do not believe that going to church makes you a "believer". There are plenty of people that show up every Sunday and have no relationship with Christ as Saviour – you're right, it's often just a social tradition. The Lord wants much more than attendance – He addressed that with the Pharisees. I've prayed I would never be one. In order to be a true Christian you have to know your own sin – that's where it starts. The farther I've come in realizing my own imperfect wretchedness the more I've been blessed by knowing His love, it's incredible.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • David Larimer

      Do any of the rest of us atheists also wonder about the mentality behind bible-spouting posts like TG's? I wonder often what thought processes lead the regurgitation of bible quotes, when the thousand preceding comments should have convinced anyone that we don't agree on the basic authority of the bible. I thought the purpose of blogs (naive me) was to try to convince the other side about the right-ness of your position. Fundamentalists keep going back to the same well as if they hadn't heard anything. It's like being stuck in Bank of America's voice-mail hell. Hello ... anybody there? or is this just a recording?

      Ok, I realize my tone is snarky, but my question is serious. What am I missing here? Why do fundamentalists just keep yelling louder about the same book, when it should be obvious to them that they are not communicating on any level that will be understood?

      August 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Reason122


      In your original sin story: 'the "tree of knowledge of good and bad" was off limits to both Adam and Eve.' Why did God consider seeking knowledge of good and evil a sin? Why would God want mankind to remain ignorant?

      And how could anyone possibly hold Adam and Eve accountable for making a "good" decision (obey God) when they did not have any understanding of the concept of good and evil?

      Why would a benevolent God punish anyone for seeking knowledge? God wouldn't. So the only possible conclusion is that the "original sin" story is not true. It is made up. It is fiction.

      August 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  17. Cosmo

    Hell is right here on earth..

    August 6, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Cosmo

      Hes taking care of Heaven, Its not his job on earth

      August 6, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  18. Which God??

    Keller's wonderfully circular logic is breathtaking in it's stupidity. All of life 'suffers' to one degree or another, from a little fish in the waters of the world, to the higest on the food chain. Nothing surprising there. A god? where? Anyone see him/her/it? Those who feel 'touched' by it sure seem so... they act cuckoo cuckoo.

    August 6, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  19. Just sayin'

    The question is irrelevant, as god does not exist except in the minds of irrational, uneducated, and/or weak-willed humans.

    So, Jesus was born by immaculate conception?
    Yes, and the Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Jupiter visited the virgin Danaë as a shower of gold and got her with child. The god Buddha was born through an opening in his mother’s flank. Catlicus the serpent-skirted caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom, and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli was thus conceived. The virgin Nana took a pomegranate from the tree watered by the blood of the slain Agdestris, and laid it in her bosom, and gave birth to the god Attis. The virgin daughter of a Mongol king awoke one night and found herself bathed in a great light, which caused her to give birth to Genghis Khan. Krishna was born of the virgin Devaka. Horus was born of the virgin Isis. Mercury was born of the virgin Maia. Romulus was born of the virgin Rhea Sylvia.

    See a pattern here?

    Think. Defy. Unite.

    August 6, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Prove

      Again Can Anyone
      So there is no God, so there is a God, both sides fight about the existence and neither can provide solid proof. All holy scriptures where written by MAN, man is flawed and can at time miss represent the true or even be made to think it is one thing while its actually something else. So if either side wants to prove or disprove god, do so with out the reference to MAN written scriptures. Prove to me that GOD can not exist. As for Evil and Good, who as set the standards for each? How can we define either with out the influence of religious believes? Last note out of every evil act, just as much good comes from it. From the support of our fellow humans, I.e. laws passed better awareness of the issues, finical and human aid and the realization of how fragile life really is. Prove too me the existence or nonexistent of God with out our knowledge passed on by “Flawed Mankind”.

      Or is everyone so wrapped in their own confused little world that neither can come up with anything other than name calling or the scriptures.

      I change any intelligent HUMAN, to prove all others please continue with your Mind numbing babbling.

      August 6, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • MarkinFL

      You make a ridiculous request. Prove to me that there are no unicorns or werewolves or vampires or leprechauns or tooth fairies.
      Why would you not make the effort?
      You cannot prove a negative. And there is little to no reason to believe something that has no logic or positive data to support it.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Marklin, you are asking him to prove something that he does not make the claim to exist. When a Atheist makes a claim of God's existence, then the job to disprove is not on the Faithful, it is always going to be on the one making the claim.

      Atheist, have been getting away with this tactic because it has mostly been as a response to a Faithful making a claim of God's existence. Now, when the Atheist makes a claim, he or she falls into the role of offering proof.

      Sorry, the burden is always on the one making the claim.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I'm not claiming that there is no god any more than I am claiming that there are no unicorns or werewolves or vampires or leprechauns or tooth fairies.
      Show me one or proof of one and I'll believe in them too. How about you?

      I will say that I see 0 evidence that there are any gods. (or any of the above other mythical creatures that may or may not exist)
      However, they are all equally irrelevant until they make themselves know to the population at large.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • MarkinFL

      BTW, I guess you missed the point why I asked him to prove those things?

      August 6, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      That is the issue I guess, I do not require anyone to show me proof of their Faith. It is a waste of time and has no real impact on my Faith. Many of us Faithful are not Evangelicals, and do not have this major radical push to convert folks to our Faith. Also, we know there is enough battle lines drawn with in the Faiths.

      Now, we look at post by some Atheist and we see the same kind of radical almost militant push to convert that we see from our side of the aisle. A year or so a Atheist confronted a few of those radical Atheist and declared there was a big difference from saying that you do not have a belief in God to attacking others because they do.

      I will also state this fact. On a message board such as The CNN Belief Blog, you are not going to find anyone that is open to converting. Both sides of the aisle are “dug in” and have heard every twist, argument and view towards the subject of Faith.

      Question, since we know through out history there have been things that have happened that science and philosophers still can not explain... If a person of Faith declares it a work of God or Gods... since you can not prove that it was not, can you live with another stating such?

      >>>”However, they are all equally irrelevant until they make themselves know to the population at large”

      Then folks will fall into that conundrum of Faith. If God did manifest himself or herself in a way that the world “at large” would see... Then two questions. Would that not automatically eliminate “Faith”? Society would then just be beholden to God fully. This is how it is written the Angels were created. Second, what if God did do something... and all of us witnessed it. Even got it on video tape. How many generations before our distant descendants would right back to where we are today declaring that you, me and the rest who witnessed it, just made it up?

      >>>”BTW, I guess you missed the point why I asked him to prove those things?”

      Truthfully, I saw another person who dares to stand in the middle between radical Atheist and the militant Faithful. He basically attacked both sides and you attacked him for taking such a middle ground stance. With that, you attempted to make him fully commit to the Faithful side. A 700 Club Faithful would attack him and make him commit to the Atheist side and attack him as such. That is what folks on the extreme on both sides do, if you are not with them then you are idiot or an infidel.

      August 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  20. BoundTorturedAlterBoy

    He asked me to stay after sunday school

    August 6, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Your a liar.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Prove


      I have never claimed that he/she/it exists; I ask for proof either way. And by say you can’t see feel or touch, this does not disprove existence, just as saying that it is written proves that (he/she/it) does exist.

      As for the other mythical creatures you speak of, I have not sought their existence nor care for such. But to say Million/billions of people a wrong with out any proof is ridicules. I ask for proof either way. If you don’t believe because you don’t want too that’s your choice but say it for what it is i.e. “I have no proof that he exists there for (you) choice not to believe”

      As for me I do not believe in the scriptures as written, because they where written by man. But to take your word that he does not exist, without any proof other than your lack of faith or knowledge of the complete universe is also ridicules. Do you believe that man knows everything in the universe? is there things out there that we have not seen or fully understand? By your logic there can not be anything real out there because we have not seen or touched it. Just as children learn we have much more to learn as humans we do not know everything and continue to learn. But if you have learned all that is please do let the rest of us know. I for one have much more to learn.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      If you're going to be this facetious, at least spell 'altar' correctly.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
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About this blog

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