My Take: God not in whirlwinds of Sandy, presidential race
A NASA image of Hurricane Sandy.
October 29th, 2012
01:33 PM ET

My Take: God not in whirlwinds of Sandy, presidential race

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

I am riding out Sandy on Cape Cod and wondering whether this, too, is God’s will.

As this storm has carved its path through the Caribbean and up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, it has taken 67 lives and (so far) spared the rest of us. Was it the will of the Almighty that so many should perish?

Is God angry with Cuba, where 11 died last week? More angry with Haiti, where 51 perished? Relatively unperturbed with Jamaica, where the death toll was only two? If a tree falls on my house today, will that be an Act of God, too?

There has been a lot of talk lately about what is and what isn’t willed by Providence, thanks to Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Republican and U.S. Senate candidate who said last week, “I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”

Whether “it” in this sentence refers to rape or to conception, it assumes that God is both busy and capricious. Why does God offer the gift of life to some rape victims and not to others? Why does God allow some elections to be close and not others?

One answer, of course, is that God does nothing of the sort. Perhaps there is no God. Or perhaps God is more like the watchmaker divinity of Deism fame who winds up the universe, sets it in motion and then leaves it to its own devices.

In the thought worlds of Indian religions, things operate not by the will of God but in keeping with the laws of karma. So to put it in crudest terms, those who are injured in Sandy somehow have it coming to them, as do victims of rape who find themselves pregnant.

The western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have argued that God has a hand not only in setting our story in motion but also in seeing it through to the end. So Jews, Christians, and Muslims have had to reckon with the classical problem of “theodicy”: In a world in which God is all powerful and all good, why do bad things happen to good people?

As I wrestle with these questions, I cannot help thinking about how differently my New England forebears interpreted these natural disasters. While we speak of the eye of the hurricane, New England's colonists were ever mindful of the eye of a God who was forever watching over them, and sending storms their way as punishment for their collective sins.

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

When the Great Colonial Hurricane raced up the east coast and lashed New England in August 1635, its 130 mph winds and 21-foot storm surge were almost universally viewed in supernatural rather than natural terms — as a judgment of God on the unfaithful.

We still have Puritans among us today, of course.

Televangelist Pat Robertson is notorious for turning natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina into supernatural communications — God’s curse on Haiti or New Orleans for bad religion or widespread abortions. And with this “Stormpocalpyse” arriving on the eve of the election, I suspect some will suggest that the rain and the wind are God’s judgment on the leadership of President Obama.

Still, American society as a whole no longer interprets natural disasters as signs of a coming apocalypse or evidence of past misdeeds. When it comes to earthquakes and hurricanes, we tune in to the Weather Channel, not the Christian Broadcasting Network. And we interpret these events not through the rumblings of biblical prophets but through the scientific truths of air pressure and tectonic plates.

As a result of this sort of secular turn, we are much better at predicting the course of hurricanes. The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 arrived as a surprise and took many lives with it, including, according to the report of the Massachusetts governor, John Winthrop, those of eight Native Americans taken by the storm surge while “flying from their wigwams.” Sandy is a surprise to no one, thanks to science.

Still, we Americans cannot give up on talk of God’s will. At least according to Newt Gingrich, Mourdock’s foray into rape and theology reflects the position of “virtually every Catholic” in the United States. And if we are to believe the full-page ads taken out  by Billy Graham, God wills the victory of Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.

As for me, I am less sure about what God wills for our storms (political or otherwise). In my view, any God worth worshiping isn’t going to be so predictable, or so capricious.

I don’t think Graham, Mourdock, or Gingrich is speaking on behalf of God. They are speaking on behalf of themselves, on the basis of their own fears and experiences. And they are reading the Bible through their politics, not the other way around.

When it comes to storms like Sandy, I just don't believe in a God who drowns black babies in Haiti yet refuses to drown out the voices of cranky white men who claim so irreverently to speak in His name.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity • Church and state • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Science • United States

soundoff (2,188 Responses)
  1. God is Good

    One of my favorite verses from the bible is found in Ecclesiastes 1:9, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
    Jesus in His day was surrounded by mockers. He predicted that those of us who choose to follow him will too be surrounded by mockers. The apostle Paul wrote in II Tim 3, "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
    Attention all mockers, I can assure you of two things...Jesus Christ will return to judge the living and the dead & second that until that time every man at the end of his days will die. In warning, Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven in the bible. Eternal life is a gift from God found only thru FAITH in choosing to follow Jesus. Your other choice is eternal separation from a loving God, that you mock, and that is called hell. In hell "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth", and it will be hot.....

    October 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Ken

      Your first statement and quote is actually plainly in conflict with well-studied thermodynamics. Like so many other statements in the bible, it is plainly wrong. Far wrong, in fact. Now go study entropy.

      The sooner you get over your ancient supersti-tions, the better.

      October 31, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  2. John

    Is it the will of God that man is hurt by nature? No. Was it the will of God that man would sin? No. God gave us a free choice to sin, thus sin brought death into the world. Death comes in all different forms. You say God was not in the hurricane, I say He was. He was not in the hurricane to bring destruction on the world, that’s later. (Fire, Not Water and Wind). It is the voice of God I hear in the winds telling me no matter what happens He will be there with me and for me. (No it’s not a literal voice, but a remembrance of what He has said through His word.) It is the comfort we have when times are tough. It is the understanding; God does not punish the wicked now. It is God that has better things for me if I put my faith and trust in Him. I’m not perfect, I’m forgiven. You can’t hear God in the wind because you are not looking for Him. It’s ok if you don’t believe; it gives us who do someone to pray for. If this life were so great, why would we want to go to a better one? The question I ask, why are all of you who are so “ANTI-GOD” so afraid of Him? What one thing is it we Christians do that makes you so afraid? Do my beliefs keep you from some great time that you are missing? We want good things for our country. Why do you want hate and death? You know that some people put on the name Christian, and don’t act like one. Just saying you’re a Christian, does not make you one. If you read Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, He does not teach hate, He teaches tolerance and compassion. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf States, I made 8 trips to help rebuild people’s lives. God did not hurt the people in the Gulf States, but He did use the Hurricane to help me show other people His love. If belief in God is so bad, how did it do so much good? True belief in God, is a belief that my life is spent helping others.
    Leave God alone and work on your own problems.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Ken

      John, that is some very twisted (and wrong) thinking that you've presented. In all your excuses that you make for your god not lifting a finger to help anyone during the disaster, you've missed the obvious correct conclusion, that your god simply does not exist.

      Selecting what fits your belief and twisting what doesn't seems to be your modus operandi of your argument. You seem sincere, so why not sincerly consider all the evidence fairly rather than twisting what doesn't fit your hypothesis?

      October 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • the AnViL

      your delusional mindset is disgusting and shameful.

      you and your ilk have absolutely no business voting, teaching public school, owning firearms or holding public office.

      October 31, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  3. Surakij Vuthikornpant

    Hello,sir.And Peace be upon you.
    Today,please allow me to introduce myself & show my opinions,sir.
    My God name's "God",sir.
    My name's Mr."Surakij" Vuthikornpant,sir.

    With my humility & respect to everybody opinions,sir.
    Please allow me to show my opinions about "In a world in which God is all powerful and all good, why do bad things happen to good people?"

    To be precise,we should start with the scientific facts...the meta-realism (multiple truth) & cognitive realism (like pragmatic & principles of causes & effects,like modern science.) .
    The scientific facts...
    "My "God" really exist & omnibenevolence (all goodness) as omnipotent (Epicnessess power) & omniscience (all wise & all knowing) about "to know everything about the roots & problems of all evils including know how to resolve or treat underlying causes of problems of evils & prevention to not make problems of evil recurrent again too."

    But,but,but,but,but.........excercises of free wills without morality & virtues..can be "good deeds","not good,not bad" ....
    And also "evil deeds",is the fact too,

    In another hand,"absent of goodness" might cause "problems of evils" also the fact.

    And "Karma" (in this life & from previous life time (child universe or cosmos)) also really exist as the fact too.(Karma is the wisdom in Buddism and because in Abrahamic tradition has no vocabulary that can explain in 1 word but in Buddism explained very well.And if asked me,"Knowledges take no side" is the fact too.)

    Ex....if you smoke hard while you were teenager,when you are 70,,you might risky about some cancer.
    Or "global warming" that some scientists warned a lot of people since 1950-1960 but only a few people believed...............
    Untill today.

    Like causes & effects.

    Sometime,hyper-coincidence or accidentally happen. (Very rare in statistically & can not repeatable like scientific facts like "global warming",)
    Ex. To win some Epic prize lotto,

    Go back to the question......

    In the world,that "my "God"" have Epic power & know everythings,
    Why bad thing happened to good people???

    The answers are "all of above depended on sistuation".

    But if asking about "Sandy storm" ,surely "global warming".
    Causes & effects since 1950-1960...untill today.

    By the way,sir.
    According to wikipedia.
    Comapare between "Hurricane Katrina" & "Sandy storm".
    "Hurricane Katrina" had Fatalities 1,833 confirmed.
    Damage $108 billion (2005 USD)

    And "Sandy storm" had Fatalities 127 total, 21 missing (not officially confirm yet).
    Damage $25 billion (2012 USD)

    But if nobody die,that's better,sir.

    And you know what,during November 2011,in my country Thailand...,"Thailand Epic float",
    To be honest,I couldn't go to my work place for a month.

    But I can assure you 1 thing,sir.

    "Global warming is SU*KS" !!!

    Just kidding,sir.

    "If good people never quit,never stop to helping each other."
    "Everything can be rebuild,sir."

    And omniamorous infinite love of "my "God" unconditionally infinitely,For all humanity of all nations unconditionally infinitely,For all living unconditionally infinitely, is never change,sir.

    Even sometime,"mother nature" say ...."IT'S PAY BACK TIME !!!" (Just sense of humor,sir.)

    But I can assure you ,my God loving-kindness & good wills towards everybody will never change for eternity,sir.

    So "please keep doing goodness,never quit,never stop",sir.
    It called "Forbearance" ,later it called "faith", "Patience" 1 of 7 Heavenly virtues,sir.

    And with "my "God"" loving-kindness....to be precise...

    With my "God" 's grace of graciousness,grace of merciful,grace of forgiveness,kindness,sympathy,compassion,empathy.."true repentance","the redemption".

    While pursuits of "Peace" through the ways' my "God" guides,"the ways of true repentance"....though uncertainty of future....that in the end,always have Peace,gloriousness & joy waiting,sir.

    It called "hope",sir. As 1 of 3 theorical virtues.

    That's my opinion,sir.
    If somebody disagree,that's ok,sir.
    Just only opinions,sir.

    And I ultimately ultimately believe faithfully in "Spirit of Humanity" in all of us,can help everybody walkthrough any difficult times together & will prevaill all difficult times,sir.

    Thank you very much about reading,sir.
    Sincerely & faithfully.
    Surakij Vuthikornpant.

    If nobody get kill,that's better,sir.
    But according to wikipedia.
    Comapare between "Hurricane Katrina" & "Sandy storm".
    "Hurricane Katrina" had Fatalities 1,833 confirmed.
    Damage $108 billion (2005 USD)

    And "Sandy storm" had Fatalities 127 total, 21 missing (not officially confirm yet).
    Damage $25 billion (2012 USD)

    Really hve sympathy & compassion to all victims & their families,sir.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  4. John

    For all of us Christians I have a statement for us to think about.
    Mathew 7:6 Jesus said it best!
    We believe they don't. If we are wrong, so what. If they are wrong, everything they have said and done will be brought back up.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Bob

      Hey, John, while you are dumping bible quotes on us, let's have a closer look at some of the horrors in your Christian book of nasty AKA the bible, in NT as well as OT:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      October 31, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ Bob:

      There is no shortage of information online of which you can avail yourself and learn the answers to the questions you apparently have about the old testament and covenants. Here's a start http://www.usccb.org/bible/understanding-the-bible/

      Then, move to: http://www.usccb.org/bible/understanding-the-bible/faq.cfm

      Next, read it in order

      1) http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?src=_intros/preface-revised.htm

      2) http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?src=_intros/pentateuch-intro.htm

      3) http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?bk=Genesis&ch=

      Then read the books in order and don't skip the introductions or footnotes.

      Here's some study material http://www.usccb.org/bible/understanding-the-bible/study-materials/

      Lastly, don't ask questions of protestants or fundies. If they knew what they were talking about, there wouldn't be a gazillion different interpretations of the same material and you wouldn't be confused in the first place.

      If you need a live person or two to assist you with your studies, call a local Church (here's a directory for the U.S.) and ask. There are adult bible study classes, RCIA classes for those who want to learn about the Church and its teachings, and clergy to assist with real questions.


      November 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  5. Ben

    The author promotes a false dichotomy. 1. God is punishing mankind with these acts of providence or 2. God does not exist (or is at most "hands off").

    He leaves no room for the possibility that God's providence allowed such a dissaster for another purpose. Why does CNN have such poor theologians write articles on their "faith" blog?

    October 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Verner

      "Poor theologians" contains certain redundancy within it.

      October 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Apparently because CNN employs no one with professional credentials to monitor this blog and uses no consultants or reference materials either.

      November 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  6. the AnViL

    it is disgusting that this level of ignorance exists in the usa today.

    there are precisely zero gods. it's an imaginary, delusional construct – born entirely from the minds of uneducated, ignorant men over 2000 years ago.

    tolerance of religious idiocy has to end.

    enough is enough

    October 31, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • John

      I guess we should not have any tolerance for you? I believe in God! I have a B.S. Degree and a Masters Degree. I teach science, math, and history. The only disgusting thing is people like you who think you know better than anyone. This level of ignorance in "USA TODAY" is what our country was founded on. If you don't like what our country is founded on and what our beliefs are, go away. I am so sick of people like you who think people like me who believe in a power than myself are dumb. It is only the height of arrogance to think we are useless because we believe in God. As you put it "tolerance of religious idiocy has to end" is the same thing that Hitler said and did. Why should we not be tolerant of all people. I my think that you are wrong in your beliefs, but I am still tolerant of you.
      I'm glad that 200 years ago that our forefathers listened to the religious idiocy that they learned 2000 year ago. It gives you the right to say stupid things like you have done. There are boats and planes that leave every day, take one. GOD BLESS THE USA

      October 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Verner

      Hate to break it to you John, but, well, you are dumb. Just plain dumb.

      October 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • the AnViL

      first of all – i'd like to point out – hitler was xian.

      next: you've got a general education in science, yet you reject reason. you should be ashamed instead of proud of your ignorance.

      john – this level of ignorance is repugnant – and by all means we'll do what we can to keep it from being passed on to further generations.

      again: you should literally be ashamed to be so ignorant. but you go ahead and revel in it.... roll around in it like a dog in excrement. be proud of your ignorance!!!

      delusional people like yourself should be free to believe whatever crazy trash you like – but you should never be allowed to be an instrument in any decision making process for the general public.

      deal with it.

      October 31, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • the AnViL

      john – i'm betting your bs and masters are non-existent.... upon further scrutiny of your scribblings... you're too stupid to be educated beyond 8th grade. i'd seriously love to know where you teach.

      you've got a lot in common with akin and broun.

      October 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  7. Lucy

    God is a reality that has been proven to me without a doubt. Although nature and Satan have a hand in the bad things that happen here, ultimately God is in control of everything. If you think this is bad, wait 'til the Tribulation when the wrath of God hits the earth in earnest. Now are just the warnings. Are you heeding them?

    October 31, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      nope, thats not gunna happen. keep wishing for it though, if wrath of an evil, desctructive god is what keeps you going every day!

      October 31, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • biobraine

      The whole "You're going to suffer for eternity for not believing" tactic might scare a child into believing but most adults are way past such a silly concept.

      October 31, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • old golfer

      Hey Lucy. Why don't you read the AGE OF REASON, written by Thomas Paine. Yes, that Thomas Paine that was instrumental in breaking our yoke with England. You might also consider reading THE BIBLE ACCORDING TO TWAIN, written by Mark Twain. Yes, that humorist Mark Twain. God gave man reason. Man gave man religion. Or, you can continue to live in fear.

      October 31, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • niknak

      There was armageddon, then the rupture, then Y2K, then the Hale Bop commet, then the Myan calander, but now I am supposed to be afraid of the "tribulation?"
      Man, you fundies never cease with your end of the world predictions.
      Fear, it's whats for dinner in a christian household........

      October 31, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • jennifer

      Read Matthew 24. This is just the start of the end. She is right, because scripture is right. There not our words, but Jesus words.

      October 31, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Yep

      "Read Matthew 24. This is just the start of the end. She is right, because scripture is right. There not our words, but Jesus words."

      Only that book was written by 30+ fallible human beings over the course of 1500+ years, many passages of which contradict themselves, many of the ideas were included in previous religions. Many of the people who wrote about Jesus never knew him, only wrote about him 50-100 years after he supposedly died. That book was also edited by many individuals to gain power, money, control and to convert pagans to Christianity. Learn the history of your religion.

      October 31, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • niknak

      Then why don't you give all your stuff away JennyCraig?
      At least those fools following that idiot from the Family Radio Network put their money where their belief was and did in fact give all their stuff away in preperation of the end of times like you are predicting.
      Go ahead and prove to us all how you know the world is ending by quiting your job and giving your stuff away.
      You won't. Because deep down inside you know it is all bull.
      You are just anothe follower who can't think for yourself.
      It guess that is why they call it a flock, because the people who still cling to stone age fairy tales are sheep.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Madtown

      Read Matthew 24. This is just the start of the end. She is right, because scripture is right
      You can believe in God and a spiritual aspect to this life. But, there's no compelling reason to believe in the tenants of christianity over any other world religion. Religion doesn't have the answers, it's a creation of the human mind, meant to attempt to answer questions that we're simply not able to answer.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • the AnViL

      gods exist in one place only – between the ears of delusional, mentally impoverished, gullible, idiots.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Jesus was the first nutcase in the long line of christian nutcases to predict the end of the world, and be completely wrong.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  8. One one

    The article says "I don’t think Graham, Mourdock, or Gingrich is speaking on behalf of God. They are speaking on behalf of themselves, on the basis of their own fears and experiences."

    It seems this is true for everyone who claims god exists and they know what god wants.

    October 31, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  9. Reality

    I (Stevie Prothero) am riding out Sandy on Cape Cod and wondering whether this, too, is God’s will."

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    And to this we offer our favorite prayer:

    The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request

    And we await Stevie P's rebuttal but that would mean stating his own beliefs something he never does.

    October 31, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  10. GO_GOP

    A recent study by a leading longivity research group found a strong correlation between atheism and early death. They also found a stronger correlation between belief in christian God and longevity. It was shwon in the 15 year long survey that people who describe themselves as atheists on an average live 39 years less than people who describe themselves as Christians. I urge all atheists to take note of this and change your lifestyle before it is too late.

    October 31, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • God is not real

      link please.

      Im calling your bluff

      October 31, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • God is not real

      ...your silence is deafening

      October 31, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • c s

      Religion is a lifestyle now?

      October 31, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • One one

      Wow ! Atheists live 39 years less ? That means that if the average lifespan is 80 yo, atheists only live to the age of 41. This is obviously utter nonsense as is the suggestion that if atheists start believing in god, the will live 39 years longer.

      October 31, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Research has shown, even though christians beleive thier god will set them on fire for eternity for lying, they still do it. Source please.

      October 31, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • biobraine

      Atheists and agnostics as a whole are better educated. Those who are better educated live longer on average.

      October 31, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      Research has shown that 97% of statistics are made up by Christians.

      October 31, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • old golfer

      I would appreciate you giving your sources on this enlightening information. Actually, you are just attempting to instill fear in people because they do not believe in your book. It saddens me to watch so many people live in fear. It is worse to see so many people try to instill fear in other's with God.

      October 31, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • niknak

      A recent study from a very prestigious research center was released that said people who still cling to stone age myths have a higher degree of gun ownership, obesity, higher rates of smoking, higher rate of using government aid, low IQ and a lack of a sense of humor.
      If you want any proof of this study, go to Mississippi.

      October 31, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • the AnViL

      it has been shown that as religiosity goes up.. iq goes down.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Another "Liar for Jusus"...

      October 31, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  11. God is not real

    Please note, anything written about God is placed under 'opinion' and not under 'science'

    October 31, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  12. Rscan

    By the way, Stephen, how does one become a Religious Scholar? Can you know anything that isn't man-made? I'm surprised you don't rename it Cape God. After all, in MY version of truth, Cod=God. Wait, I misspoke! Cods are real.

    October 31, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  13. Rscan

    What are you nuts? How can you "question" the "intentions" of a god we "pretend" exists? Where is this so-called guy? I see NYC officials on TV, but not (your fairytale version of) God. Let's see if I understand (LOL...using "understand" with a superst itious author)-God crashes that evil airliner but God saves a little girl in seat 21A, only to have her grow up to be assaulted, so as to make Ol' Friendly God a new earthling baby? Which is it dodo? And where can we contact it? Tell me, fountain of knowledge...Dog loves New York,or Dog hates New York? Did God make the rats?

    The world is changing in many ways besides the weather. For instance, we now know you believe in mythology. You drive "science" to church then start the "pretending" when you get to the door. And your pretend has killed a lot of innocent people. Gosh, thanks for the enlightenment Ol' Gosh O' Golly, but you were sure tricky leaving those old dino bones laying around to confuse the superst itious.

    October 31, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  14. Lizard Lance

    God gave us a world to take care of and we've failed. We poison the waters, we waste millions of gallons to suck up natural gas, we pollute the air. Why shouldn't we have a world that turns against us?

    October 31, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Rscan

      I think you are mostly correct-mess up the planet and it will rebel naturally, maybe even mess up our species. Where we disagree is this-your bucket of knowledge is full, and you religious folks claim to know everything, right at the start of any discussion. In my bucket, I don't know yet precisely how the world was created. Science starts with wonder, a question, an idea, an empty bucket of knowledge, and leaves "faith" for you wise people with (already) full buckets and secret knowledge of invisible sky friends. Maybe I'm too stupid to get it.

      October 31, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Humans and pollution go hand in hand. More humans, more pollution. Doesnt your god encourage more and more procreation? How can you multiply the humans and not the pollution? Or maybe god doesnt exist.

      October 31, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  15. Johnrose

    Its really funny how people suddenly remember God, or take an active interest in him only when something *BAD* as this hurricane storm happens. What about all the good times in a person's life, a birth of a child, graduation, promotion, marriage are these good events not enough to thank the providence for this blessings.

    But No, people just dont care as long as things happen as they want it to. And one fine day, when they face an crisis we get to hear such screams like"Why God Why, do bad things happen to *GooD* people like me?"

    “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” – C.S.Lewis

    Believing in GOD will not make the Storm stop, but will give me the strength to go right through it. Amen.

    October 31, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • facepalm

      What’s even funnier is when brainwashed fools attribute great things to a supernatural character in a plagiarized fairy-tale. Grow up!

      October 31, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  16. MoonChild02

    I think the best way to understand the situation would be to look at the Book of Job in the Old Testament/Tanakh. God's ways are not our ways. It is not our job to question or to understand what He does or doesn't do, allows or doesn't allow. It is simply our job to have faith and trust in the Lord, and adjust our life accordingly.

    October 31, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • Rscan

      The Book of Job was written by humans you idiot. Guess what? Donald Duck's ways are not our ways either, but at least a duck exists somewhere besides your (easily hijacked) imagination. The duck is natural, your favorite deity guy is imaginary, but somehow you like to be controlled this way. You have merely been taught to "think" it's your job to be simple and have faith. Do you realize the ignorance of that statement...in the modern world?

      October 31, 2012 at 7:09 am |
  17. Anontheist

    The author of this essay, Mr. Stephen Prothero, would like to absolve God from having any hand in these things we still refer to as Acts of God. He doesn't see God's hand in the evil perpetrated by killers, rapists and other really bad people because God gave us Free Will. But I'll bet that after a mine cave in that killed 30 miners but one was rescued, or after a plane crash where a single child survived, or when two old people were found alive in the rubble 5 days after an earthquake, he's the first one to shout "IT'S A MIRACLE!!! Thank the Lord".

    October 31, 2012 at 6:11 am |
  18. Darkness has a Hunger that's Insatiable

    Cash Cow Novel 3:28 "And then Beck and Pelosi joined and spaketh forth, saying, Let there be a day of reconciliation and parades. Send us your dollars and we will thus live very richly and complain in a loud voice about the stupidity of the people, who ares so easily instilled with fear. And there was gnashing of teeth, and sales rose accordingly."

    Steve ought to read some Barth, who reminds us that man cannot define God by taking about man, in however a loud voice. God is "ganz anders."

    October 31, 2012 at 5:17 am |
  19. JOhn

    This comment is For people who claim that there is no god.
    Let me tell u just 1 thing only,
    "Everything happens because it was caused by someone",
    that someone is who? use ur brains and go find out because this is the simplest explanation.

    October 31, 2012 at 4:47 am |
    • the AnViL

      you'll need to cite your sources for this claim.

      October 31, 2012 at 5:00 am |
  20. Mike blow

    Whats more violent then Sandy ? ISLAM

    October 31, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • JOhn

      Why dont u investigate if thats true, just by studying Quran first.

      October 31, 2012 at 4:50 am |
    • the AnViL

      islam is a tribal-minded, bronze-aged, ignorant, bigoted, racist, antiquated delusional construct that needs to be destroyed. islam teaches bigotry, racism and intolerance.

      October 31, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • Anontheist

      "the AnViL
      islam is a tribal-minded, bronze-aged, ignorant, bigoted, racist, antiquated delusional construct that needs to be destroyed. islam teaches bigotry, racism and intolerance."

      Islam teaches bigotry? So does the Bible ... and so did you.

      October 31, 2012 at 6:04 am |
    • Rscan

      Jewish=Christian=Muslim. Why argue...same religion copied over and over? Same Adam and Eve, same God, same Abraham, Moses, angels, devils etc. It's called Monotheism, and it kills a lot of people, and has for a long, long time. It's easy too-just start a Judea-based religion and dummies fall in line to save themselves from the evil zombies. You know zombie don't you? That's people who rise from the dead...and come after your soul, or money.

      October 31, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • the AnViL


      my post was in response to this thread.

      >Mike blow
      >Whats more violent then Sandy ? ISLAM

      i was merely responding to the post. it is a proven fact that islam teaches intolerance, hate, bigotry and ignorance. it is an established fact that islam is a tribal-minded, delusional construct. it is my opinion and the opinion of others that it needs to be destroyed. that opinion is no more bigoted than the opinion of gardeners and how they might approach weeds, or surgeons and how they might approach a cancerous tumor.

      had the poster made a statement about the bible then this thread would be about the bible. they didn't and it's not.

      your assertion is rejected.... and you should be ashamed to be so stupid and ignorant.

      as a consolation: i will agree with you – xianity and the bible are just as huge a wad of utter crap as islam and the koran.

      October 31, 2012 at 8:02 am |
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About this blog

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