December 14th, 2012
06:17 PM ET

Massacre of children leaves many asking, 'Where’s God?'

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

(CNN) – As he waited with parents who feared that their kids were among the 20 children killed at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, Rabbi Shaul Praver said the main thing he could do for parents was to merely be present.

“It’s a terrible thing, families waiting to find out if their children made it out alive,” said Praver, who leads a synagogue in Newtown, Connecticut, and was among nine clergy gathered with parents at a firehouse near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the shooting occurred.

“They’re going to need a lot of help,” Praver said of those who are close to the dead.

From the first moments after Friday’s massacre, which also left six adults and the shooter dead, religious leaders were among the first people to whom worried and grieving families turned for help.

Over the weekend, countless more Americans will look to clergy as they struggle to process a tragedy in which so many of the victims were children.

“Every single person who is watching the news today is asking ‘Where is God when this happens?’” says Max Lucado, a prominent Christian pastor and author based in San Antonio.

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Lucado says that pastors everywhere will be scrapping their scheduled Sunday sermons to address the massacre.

“You have to address it - you have to turn everything you had planned upside down on Friday because that’s where people’s hearts are,” Lucado says.

“The challenge here is to avoid the extremes – those who say there are easy answers and those who say there are no answers.”

Indeed, many religious leaders on Friday stressed that the important thing is for clergy to support those who are suffering, not to rush into theological questions. A University of Connecticut professor on Friday hung up the phone when asked to discuss religious responses to suffering, saying, “This is an immense tragedy, and you want an academic speculating on the problem of evil?”

“There is no good answer at that time that anyone can hear and comprehend and take in,” said Ian T. Douglas, the bishop for the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut, referring to counseling family and friends of the dead. “They’re crying out from a place of deep pain.”

Praver, the rabbi, will join a memorial service Friday night at Newtown’s St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church.

“We’re going to have a moment of prayer for the victims,” Praver said of the service. “We cannot let it crush our spirit and we march on.”

Some national religious groups are also sending staff to Newtown, with 10 chaplains dispatched from the North Carolina-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on Friday.

Public officials including President Obama, meanwhile, turned to the Bible in responding to the shooting. “In the words of Scripture, 'heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds,' ” Obama said from the White House, citing the book of Psalms.

On Twitter, #PrayForNewton became a trending topic.

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

Some religious leaders argue that modern American life insulates much of the nation from the kind of senseless death and suffering that plagues much of the world every day.

“Most of the world, for most of the world’s history, has known tragedy and trauma in abundance,” wrote Rob Brendle, a Colorado pastor, in a commentary for CNN’s Belief Blog after this summer’s deadly shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which left 12 dead.

“You don’t get nearly the same consternation in Burundi or Burma, because suffering is normal to there,” wrote Brendle, who pastored congregants after a deadly shooting at his church five years ago. “For us, though, God has become anesthetist-in-chief. To believe in him is to be excused from bad things.”

My Take: This is where God was in Aurora

Lucado said there was an eerie irony for the Connecticut tragedy coming just before Christmas, noting the Bible says that Jesus Christ’s birth was followed by an order from King Herod to slay boys under 2 in the Roman city of Bethlehem.

“The Christmas story is that Jesus was born into a dark and impoverished world,” Lucado says. “His survival was surrounded by violence. The real Christmas story was pretty rough.”

Many religious leaders framed Friday’s shooting as evidence for evil in the world and for human free will in the face of a sovereign God.

“The Bible tells us the human heart is ‘wicked’ and ‘who can know it?’” the Rev. Franklin Graham said in a statement about the massacre. “My heart aches for the victims, their families and the entire community.”

Many religious leaders also said that such tragedies are a good time for lay people to express doubts about God – or anger.

“This is a time to go deep and pray,” says Lucado. “If you have a problem with God, shake a fist or two at him. If he’s God, he’s going to answer. And if he’s in control, he’ll find a way to let you know.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • God • Uncategorized

soundoff (9,195 Responses)
  1. Extra Medium

    Those who say God is All Mighty and everything else : this is the very appropriate time to ask God to bring back those 20 children back to life - not a test at all 🙁

    December 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Delbert

      Why don't you ask God to do that? See what happens.

      December 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • lol??

      What makes you think they want to come back?

      December 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Matt

      "What makes you think they want to come back?"

      If you think they are so better off why don't you join them?

      December 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • lol??

      MATT, you sound like a bully atheist. Under the conditions they left I could very well understand their reluctance to go through it all over again. But what the hey, you're a know it all.

      December 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  2. LinCA

    What's the count?

    December 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Huckabee has to count for at least 10

      December 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  3. Delbert

    To me the issue at the school shooting is not about religion in school vs. no religion in school. For example, we know this kind of thing doesn't happen in Saudi Arabia – and they have PLENTY of religion in school. Nor does it happen in Cuba – and they have NO religion in school.

    It's about totalitarianism vs. freedom. The less you control every aspect of peoples lives, the more likely something like this will happen.

    December 16, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  4. Aspinks

    If you guys want to give up on GOD go ahead but you better be right? God did not say this world would be perfect you will have trials everyday and some will be nasty.....We cannot question why this happen it may be part of a larger plan...God is tired of our hatred towards one another and greed etc. I pray for those children and their families with a heavy heart...But no matter what it feels or looks like god is in control.....always

    December 16, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How do you know that god is "tired" of anything? Did he tell you? When?

      You don't "know" anything of the sort.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Aspinks, please give us your thoughts on what this larger plan might be. I'm sure it would comfort the parents and families of the victims to know as much as possible about how their loss will be contributing to a better future. Or are you just spewing meaningless words in an attempt to defend your non-existent god?

      December 16, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Aspinks must be one of those odious pea-brains who tells others that "god doesn't give you anything you can't handle" or that "your dad (or mother, brother, child) is in a better place now."

      December 16, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Roger that

      But no matter what it feels or looks like god is in control.....always

      If your God is in control then he is a complete psychopath.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If this is part of your god's plan...it is time to get a new plan.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Or to get a new god. . .

      Or to get deprogrammed out of your death cult. . .

      December 16, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • SImran

      @Blessed are...makers

      Or maybe, a new God! But definitely a new book!

      December 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  5. Why ask why

    Do we really think we're going to get an answer. Do we really want someone to stand up and say, "Well if this didn't occur something worse decades from now would have occured." Religion is what people believe in inspite of evidence not because of it.

    December 16, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  6. lol??

    Hey A&A's God aims to please. You have what you desired..........."Dan 4:17 This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men." Base? OH, the BAND!

    December 16, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  7. Tim

    It is right to ask "Where was God" especially since the God most people have in mind is claimed to be All-powerful. It is right to ask why he was negligent in protecting these innocent children, at least the children of those parents were praying to him and counting on him to protect them. Belief in that kind of God fails so often, it is right to ask why? Answers like "He doesn't go where he isn't wanted" and "It happened because we took prayer out of school" are just trying to shift the blame to us weak humans, to avoid a charge of negligence against the one who supposedly had the power to stop it. I don't think this quote has been satisfactorally answered in 2300 years.
    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then why is there evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
    Epicurus quotes (Greek philosopher, BC 341-270)"

    December 16, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Jenny

      My husband had the same reaction. For years he was like, "there's no such thing as god, there' sno such thing as god, there's no such thing as...
      (tragedy strikes)
      Why did GOD let this happen!?!?!

      I was like dude you just...uh okay, never mind.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Jenny, there is no god, but if YOU insist that there is, then YOU have to deal with the reality that he allowed this event to happen. Non believers don't have to explain that; YOU do.

      December 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Bet


      Only believers ask why god lets things like this happen and expect an answer.

      For the rest of us, it's a rhetorical question.

      December 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • james

      if you really want an answer to these and all of the other questions please contact Jehovah's Witnesses or listen the next time they call. please do not just ignore them because of something someone else said about them. talk to them and be civil and reasonable and you can learn what the bible really teaches about these subjects and the only hope for the future. if you choose to not discuss with them anything then you have no reason to criticize them. if you want to just learn about them and their beliefs go to jw.org and in the privacy of your home and mind read and learn and have a real wonderful hope for eternity.

      December 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • JWT

      The jws are never difficult – they ring the door bell the dog goes nuts barking at them therough the door. They figure it out eventually.

      December 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      If the JWs are pushing The Babble as truth then they are delusional, lying or both. I do not have to respect delusions or lies, especially on my property. All myth believers, regardless of age or sex, stupid enough to knock on my door will receive the same very firm "Get the fuck off my property with your sick fucking ideas!"

      December 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Jenny


      I can't claim to know if there is a God or not. My point was he was an atheist until something went wrong then he wanted to blame a God he doesn't believe in. Nice to see though you are putting the owness of blame on myself an unrelated party. Would you like me to invent an explaination for you? Why don't you learn to follow a post.

      December 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • I wonder


      Just because non-believers mention that fantasy being does not mean that they believe in it. Saying (or writing): "that alleged 'God', as imagined and described by primitive, uneducated Middle Eastern Hebrew men and believed in by many today out of fear and wishful thinking" just gets too clunky.

      December 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Jenny, why are you married to such a wimp?

      December 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  8. George


    Check out Gollum.

    December 16, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Cheering over dead people? You sound an awful lot like that lunatic you worship.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      When one has to personally attack dead people people rather than ideas one has lost the argument.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  9. Lena

    OK, I usually don't do this, but will since the anti-faith people seem to outnumber us: Churches are run by humans who are fallible and sinful as every other group, including non-believers. If the Salvation Army comes to your town or you go to them, they will not ask if you are a believer; they will help you iand feed you in times of disaster. The church has established more hospitals and schools than any other organization worlodwide. The man who wrote "Amazing Grace" was a slave trader before his conversion and worked 20 yrs. to abolish slavery in England. The U.S. abolitionists originated in the church, Harriet Beecher Stowe was the daughter of a minister. Mother Theresa took care of the sick and dying in India, Father Damien ministered to the lepers in Hawaii when no one else would get near them, Sister Kenny of Australia helped those w/polio despite opposition from the medical community, and her work continues in the U.S. A tenent of the Jewish faith encourages service to mankind, which I have taken note. Pope John Paul II was instrumental in bringing down the Iron Curtain. The dismantling of the Belin Wall originated when a group of Christians decided to make a concerted mission of prayer which spread like wildfire. Widow strangling and head heading has been nearly eliminated because of Christian missionaries. I could on and on but now I need to leave for church.

    To all the haters of Christians: Jesus loves you very much and so do I, and i would not hesitate to help you in your hour of need, and I have helped non-believers. Life is hard, God is great. To God be the Glory!

    December 16, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Anon

      Yes if you're crazy and you know it clap your hands.
      If you're crazy and you know it clap your hands.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Hitler was christian. People who killed thousands in the crusades were christians. Priests who rae kids are crhistians. 90% of all prisoners in America are Christian. I could go on, but I have to go worship my toaster.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • JWT

      Religion is not and never has been required for any form of goodness.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      All you've done is demonstrate the actions of well meaning people. Your God is mystriously absent of doing anything whatsoever.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Me

      Oh Lena, there are a lot many others who took care of the sick and dying in India and still do, and they have not been told to do so by the Christian God. Why didn't your media make heroes out of them? Mother Teresa had connections, that is why!

      December 16, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Sue

      Lena, even if Christians were all wonderful, generous, loving people (some are, some aren't), that does not make your claims about your sky fairy true. Your statements are mainly non sequitur. Now note the following, and think about it:

      "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
      Steven Weinberg, quoted in The New York Times, April 20, 1999

      December 16, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Mother Theresa was a B-tch

      Lena, Mother Theresa was not the wonderful person that you and others have been fooled by church marketing to think she was. She was cruel and mainly exploited suffering, rather than easing it. Have a read here, Theresa exposed:


      "One of Mother Teresa’s volunteers in Calcutta described her “Home for the Dying” as resembling photos of concentration camps such as Belsen. No chairs, just stretcher beds. Virtually no medical care or painkillers beyond aspirin, and a refusal to take a 15-year-old boy to a hospital. Hitchens adds, “Bear in mind that Mother Teresa’s global income is more than enough to outfit several first class clinics in Bengal. The decision not to do so... is a deliberate one. The point is not the honest relief of suffering, but the promulgation of a cult based on death and suffering and subjection.”"

      December 16, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • skytag

      Believers do many good works. That doesn't confirm that what they believe is true.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Lena, 1. god, jesus nor any other mythical being is required for people to do good – go to richarddawkins.net to see how non-believers assist others. 2. You nor any other believer has a single bit of objective, independent, verifiable or factual evidence to support you beliefs or your god. You are delusional (mentally ill). Please get professional help before your god tells you to get and use guns against innocent people.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Lena

      Mother Theresa was a sinner and fallible like everyone else.

      December 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Huh?

      Lena you forgot one.

      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."

      -Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

      December 16, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  10. Wayne

    Still missing the point, our society is being programed for violence, duh

    December 16, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • SImran

      By who?

      December 16, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Anon

      The bible is extremely violent by the way.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Huh?

      Religious people find it very annoying that people don't need God to be good, as science has now incontestably proved.

      For millennia, we've been brainwashed into believing that we needed the Almighty to redeem us from an essentially corrupt nature. Left to our own devices, people would quickly devolve into beasts, more violent, tactless, aggressive, and selfish, than we already are.

      Today, we know that this isn't true. With the discovery of mirror neurons by Italian neuroscientist Giaccomo Rizzolatti in the 1990s, we now have physiological proof of why - and how - our species became hard-wired for goodness. Mirror neurons are miraculous cells in the brain whose sole purpose is to harmonize us with our environments. By reflecting the outside world inward, we actually become each other - a little bit; neurologically changed by what is happening around us. Mirror neurons are the reason that we have empathy and can feel each other's pain. It is because of mirror neurons that you blush when you see someone else humiliated, flinch when someone else is struck, and can't resist the urge to laugh when seeing a group struck with the giggles. (Indeed, people who test for "contagious yawning" tend to be more empathic.) These tiny mirrors are the key to most things noble and good inside us.

      It is through mirror neurons - not God - that we redeem ourselves, achieve salvation, and are "reborn" in virtuous ways once co-opted by religions. Evolution knew what she was doing. A group of successful cooperators has a much higher chance of thriving than a population of selfish liars. In spite of what we read in the headlines, the ratio of bad to good deeds done on any given day across our planet holds at close to zero any day of the year. Although we are ethical works-in-progress, the vast majority of us are naturally positive creatures - meaning not harmful to our environments - most of the time in most of the ways that matter. And God has nothing to do with it.

      Spirituality does but God doesn't. Evolutionary psychologists tell us that our brains are hard-wired with a five-toned moral organ that focuses on a quintet of ethical values - one of which is purity, or sacredness. In a world that can sometimes be disgusting, we evolved an upper tier of emotional longing - the aspiration for purity - to keep us balanced in this satyricon of carnal delights (where animality beckons and frequently wins). Our need for sacredness is part of our ancient survival apparatus, and manifests in what we call faith, the need to connect with that sacred dimension. This has been the primary purpose of religion, of course - to congregate people for the Greater Good - but God has been, in fact, the divine carrot. The important part was communion, a context in which to transcend ourselves, if only for an hour on Sundays. Without this ability "to turn off the Me and turn on the We," moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt tells us, our species would still be wandering around as groups of nomads, unable to create a civilization.

      Aside from mirror neurons, there's oxytocin, the molecule of connection (also known as the molecule of love). It's fascinating to learn that the vagus nerve produces more oxytocin when we witness virtuous behavior in others that makes us want to be better people ourselves. We are wired by nature to be elevated at the sight of other people's goodness, mirror neurons and oxytocin conspiring to improve the species. Miraculous though it is, this natural human phenomenon has nothing to do with theology.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • SImran

      Mirror neurons Huh! Thanks, I hadn't heard of that one before.

      And I liked how you mentioned evolution as a she! I always like it when women are given their due respect. Sometimes, I do think it is crazy on my part to act like a feminist.

      It was a good read.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • SImran

      Since you brought it to my notice, I read further.... There have been some criticisms about the concept that mirror neurons have a role in evolutionary adaptation:

      Neurophilosophers such as Patricia Churchland have expressed both scientific and philosophical objections to the theory that mirror neurons are responsible for understanding the intentions of others. In chapter 5 of her 2011 book, Braintrust, Churchland points out that the claim that mirror neurons are involved in understanding intentions (through simulating observed actions) is based on as.sumptions that are clouded by unresolved philosophical issues. She makes the argument that intentions are understood (coded) at a more complex level of neural activity than that of individual neurons. Churchland states that "A neuron, though computationally complex, is just a neuron. It is not an intelligent homunculus. If a neural network represents something complex, such as an intention [to insult], it must have the right input and be in the right place in the neural circuitry to do that".
      Recently, Cecilia Heyes (Professor of Experimental Psychology, Oxford) has advanced the theory that mirror neurons are the byproduct of associative learning as opposed to evolutionary adaptation. She argues that mirror neurons in humans are the product of social interaction and not an evolutionary adaptation for action-understanding. In particular, Heyes rejects the theory advanced by V.S. Ramachandran that mirror neurons have been "the driving force behind the great leap forward in human evolution".(Ramachandran, 2000)

      December 16, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • carlofuda

      @Huh? – Incredibly well-written post. Do you have this on a blog or somewhere that can be referenced?

      December 16, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  11. Chad

    If God wasnt real, the question of "Why?" wouldnt even be coming up.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Brian

      "If God wasnt real, the question of "Why?" wouldnt even be coming up."

      That's just a stupid post, the reason why came up is because this person that shot up the school was sick and hurting and wanted others to hurt worse, to bring pain to the world. The why is how could this have been prevented, there's no need to put a God into it.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Here is Real

      Chad posted the same ignorant post yesterday, he is a christian apologist of the worst kind and will use any falsehood in his arguements.
      Chad...Which god, be specific now, there are so many?

      December 16, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • JJ

      Proof that Santa Claus is real is because we keep asking "why does he have to come down the chimney to bring gifts? What's wrong with coming through the front door?".

      December 16, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • skytag

      Believers use some of the dumbest arguments imaginable.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Chad is a perfect example of how religion rots the brain. Unfortunately, we don't know how many guns he owns or where he lives.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Chard, I swear you must have some sort of creeping dementia. Your posts get dumber every day. The reason people who don't believe are asking the question is because idiots like you pretend your god is good and is to be credited with all creation and everything positive that occurs. If that is so, then where is such a god when these tragedies occur?

      The fact that you can't come up with any answer is what makes atheists pretty sure they're right–there is no god.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Roger that

      If God was real then no one would be questioning his existence.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Chad

      @Here is Real "Which god, be specific now, there are so many?"
      @Chad "the only God you anti-theists rail against.

      @Roger that "If God was real then no one would be questioning his existence."
      @Chad "are there any other "gods" that you question the existence of?
      The reason you question the existence of the God of Israel, is because that's the one that IS real. He is the only one that you have doubts about.

      December 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • .

      "The reason you question the existence of the God of Israel, is because that's the one that IS real. He is the only one that you have doubts about."

      circular logic anyone? LOL!

      December 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Here is Real

      Surprise none of them are real. Back to the proof and evidence that you are so disingeuous about. Your god and bible are myths, get it.

      December 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • OTOH

      "The reason you question the existence of the God of Israel, is because that's the one that IS real. He is the only one that you have doubts about."

      We talk about the God of Israel because that is a very popular one these days, especially here. You do know, however, that around 1/2 of the world does not believe in that one? If Hinduism decided to proselytize and spread all over the globe by word or sword, I'll just bet you would have a thing or two to say about Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, and the rest. Would that mean that you think they are REAL?

      December 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Chad

      @OTOH "We talk about the God of Israel because that is a very popular one these days, especially here. You do know, however, that around 1/2 of the world does not believe in that one? If Hinduism decided to proselytize and spread all over the globe by word or sword,"

      =>they do and have, right?

      A real issue for atheists would be the virtual lack of attacks against islam.
      more violent, they have theocracys in place world wide..

      that atheists focus the vast majority of their attacks against the Judeo-Christian can not be disputed.

      December 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Simple enough, Chad. The majority of the population of this country is christian, and some of them are actively trying to force their belief on those of us who do not share that belief. Therefore they get the lion's share of the criticism.

      By "forcing" what I mean is anti-gay rights legislation (although this recent election showed that this particular form of bigotry is on it's way out) and statements made by political figures, such as Mike Huckabee when he blames the lack of religion in schools for such atrocities as this slaughter of children.

      You can expect that christianity will continue to be criticized as long as it's adherents persist on behaving as though it is not only their right, but their duty to trample the rights of others.

      December 16, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Chard, if you're so enamored of your little theory that protestation must mean belief, then what do you make of folks like you who are just as violently opposed to accepting h0mos3xuality as natural? I guess that means you must actually be gay.

      The Chard doth protest too much, methinks.

      December 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Chad

      excessive protestation can be an indicator of an underlying belief in the truth of that which one is protesting.

      Now, if I was on here every day in post after post, fiercely condemning ho.m.os.e.xuality, I think one would have a basis for wondering.

      However, I merely object to the changing of the law to include g.a.y marriage. The level of ferocity and emotional content of my posts doesnt approach your average anti-theist posting.

      That's the point of the verse, "It's the degree of vehemence that leads one to conclude an increasing likelihood of suppressed feelings for the contrary of that which is being argued. I.e., the more pa.s.sionate and fervent the argument, the greater likelihood the cause is a suppression of belief for the contrary argument, and the subsequent confirmation that it is the (actual) truer statement."

      December 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  12. tiny

    As I said in my first comment, my heart breaks as I read these comments. I am not angry with any of you who have view points opposite mine. As a Christian however it is my duty to appeal to you. I have done that. So now I will stop because I know to debate with you is fruitless. My intent is not to alienate but to draw you near. I will continue to pray that your ears will be unstopped and your heart may be softened.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • SImran

      And there goes another Evangelical with hands up in the air!

      December 16, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • JWT

      You speak as if your way is the only good way. An a perfectly false belief.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      We're not angry with you. We might think you're partly off your rocker for your belief in magical beings but we don't think badly of you personally. You however seem terribly concerned about our supernatural well being even though it doesn't like even you know what you're talking about.
      What is God?
      What is a soul?
      How can you show those two things exist outside your head?

      December 16, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Anon

      Pray all you want till you're blue and end up croaking.
      I'm not going to shut down my brain capabilities just because some imaginary god gives you a feel good sensation.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • JJ

      And we'll continue to think for you.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • skytag

      Why do you judge atheists as closed-minded? I am open to any evidence you have that God exists. The problem is that you have none. I'm not closed-minded just because I won't take your unsupported word for something.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • OTOH


      You know, sometimes I almost wish that your happy-ever-after fantasy were real. Live my life, just like I do now, being pretty dang upstanding, loving and charitable, and be rewarded with eternal bliss! Cool! Problem is, there is not a single shred of verified evidence that it is real.

      December 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  13. tiny

    Truly I do feel bad not only for Anon but for anyone who will not even give Jesus a chance. God has NOT done this terrrible evil. Please don't blame Him.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      You're parly correct. God has not done this or anything else for that matter. Your steadfast belief is not demonstrably true....merely assertions without evidence.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Anon

      In theological terms yes your god was at fault here since he already knew the outcome.
      In realistic terms it was a mentally deranged young man who didn't get psychiatric help in time before committing a massacre and then himself.
      Jesus doesn't mean anything to me. He's just a another myth from a long line of myths that somehow due to fanaticism has survived to this day. If history a changed a bit in the past you'll probably be talking till blue about Serapis as your only lord and savior.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • skytag

      How can I blame something that doesn't exist? You need to let go of your delusions. Many atheists, such as myself, spent years of our lives as Christians endlessly trying to rationalize why our beliefs weren't consistent with what we see in the world. Eventually we came to realize we were trying to make excuses for why fairytales weren't coming true.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  14. tiny

    Attack of the 50 ft magical underwear, Have you ever really read the Bible? From your comments I would say not. Like I said in my first comment, I had some of the same uninformed opinions about God too until I began to study it for myself.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Anon

      Too your surprise one of the reasons we're atheist is because we actually read the bible and studied the origins of your faith.
      Comparative religion can tell a lot from where Christianity came from in the first place.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Of course we have read the Bible. We also have dismissed its content as useless pap. What you fail to realize is that many of us come from a religious upbringing. Escaping religion is just like recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction. It is impossible to recognize the danger from within. Only when viewed from outside is the duplicity and manipulation made visible.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • SImran

      @ Tiny,
      Have you ever read the Bhagwad Gita? Will make much more sense than your Bible does!

      December 16, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • skytag

      I have read the Bible. There is no evidence that anything is says is true. Stop trying to rationalize the people don't accept your fairytales because they don't know as much as you, haven't read the Bible, are closed-minded, or any of that crap. We just looked around and saw nothing to make us believe any of it is true.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Well there's your problem

      "I had some of the same uninformed opinions about God too until I began to study it for myself"

      Don't let other people tell you what to study in the bible. They will only show you the parts that support their viewpoint. Try reading it straight through, cover to cover, you'll start to see why atheists have problems with it

      December 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  15. cnn reader

    I don't understand why those who do not believe God exists take the time to use this massacre of innocent people as a platform to prove to anyone who believes in God that they are being 'ridiculous'.

    I am imagine that if you are an Atheist then you wish to live on this earth as long as you can a peacefully as you can with the others that live here. Why fight with those people to prove how dumb they are? Especially after an awful tragedy. Your energy on Earth would be better spent thinking of ways to make the world a better place after this rather than put other people down.

    For me personally, I believe that God has the final say on what is good and what is evil. I don't believe the story of this massacre ended here on Earth. I believe He will one day make it right. To believe that this guy got away with murder just because he killed himself is a sad life to live.

    I live with hope that every tragedy will be made right one day instead of just being 'bad luck' on Earth to the victim.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • SixDegrees

      I don't understand why anyone believes in god, given that such incidents occur.

      I'm not surprised, though, that many of those self-proclaimed christians seize such moments to spew vile, hate-filled pronouncements, notably like so many here who have said the young, blameless victims had it coming because of some behavior or action by unrelated others that said christian doesn't agree with. This is the true face of evil in the world, made worse by trying to rope god into their hatred and make him responsible for it.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Anon

      The WBC are already gearing up to go there.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • SImran

      You want to live with the belief that there is a god, there is life after death, there is heaven and hell, I've no problem with that.
      What I do have a problem with is –
      1. You (not exactly you, but some others) claiming that this happened bcoz we have pushed God out of our schools and government!!! The first question I ask of them (and I have got no answer) is WHICH GOD?

      2. I certainly have problems when zealots try to push their agendas (for votes) into laws (such as abortion laws)! Did you read about the woman in Ireland who died bcoz she was refused an abortion (as it was a Catholic nation)?

      3. I certainly have issues when you want to teach creationism at schools, and call it science!!! Teach what you like in your home.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • skytag

      Every time a tragedy occurs the believers practically fall all over themselves trying to rationalize why yet again God has failed to provide any evidence of his existence. Worse, they start trying to blame people not like them to explain why God let it happen.

      Read of the comments and see how many blame those responsible for taking prayer out of school or less dependence on religion in our culture. They can't accept that some people just aren't wired right, they have to find someone to blame.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Why do those that believe blame those that do not for laws limiting religion in public when virtually 100% of lawmakers at least claim to be believers.? Why don't religious arguments hold up to public scrutiny?

      December 16, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • cnn reader

      I am not here to push God on anyone. I am not here to make it about my God or blame any one group for what happened.

      I am also not here to make it a platform for POLITICAL issues such as abortion. That does not seem appropriate.

      What is important is to focus on how we can make this a better world for our kids. I don't think calling people 'dumb' (bullying hint hint) makes the world any better.

      If you resort name calling and saying all Christians/Mormon/Muslim/Buddhist/Hinduist are just plain stupid then you ought to exam your heart a little better.

      December 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  16. tiny

    Anon, you are so far off base it's not even funny. It is pitiful.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      You beleive in an invisible man in the sky that blesses and smites us as he chooses and you are calling other people pitiful? Sounds like you're angry because you're starting to realize how rediculous your religion is.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Anon

      Says the atheist kids thrown out of their house just because their fundie parents can't accept them.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Here is Real

      Now try and be nice to Anon. I am sure he does not want your pity and don't forget you have to forgive and love him.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • George

      Dude, first of all it's religion. Learn how to spell. Quit basking in the glory of your new found "pseudo-intellectualism." It doesn't make you any smarter.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • George

      My bad. You actually spelled religion right! How "Rediculous" of me.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      You know what my favorite part of your rant was? When you proved your god was real. o h wait.....

      December 16, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • skytag

      Feel free to support your position with evidence and a logically valid argument.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  17. tiny

    As I read the comments that have come before mine, my heart breaks. There was a time when I too questioned the existence of God and without going into my life's story let it suffice to say that one day my eyes were opened. God is real. Jesus is alive. When tragedy strikes people do tend to say, where was God? I did too until I read in the Bible the parable of the wheat and tares found in Matthew 13:24-43. "An enemy hath done this." God has been given a very bad wrap. God did not create evil. Did God allow evil? Yes He did. Could God have destroyed Lucifer before he had a chance to deceive a third of the angels, yes He could have. But if God had done that then the angels may have thought that Lucifer was right. They may have thought God destoyed Lucifer because He was just like Lucifer had said. The angels then would have began to serve God out of fear rather than love. God wants us to serve Him because we love Him not because we are afraid He will destroy us. God made us with free-will. That is the ability to choose. We choose to do right or we choose to do wrong. Did those innocent babies have a choice in their destinies? No they did not. They were innocent victims of an adult who did have a choice to make. We cannot presume to know the mind of God. I do not know why He intervenes sometimes and not others. I do know that it is NOT God's will that any of us suffer and die. His original plan was that we would live forever but man CHOSE to follow Satan rather than God and now we must endure the consequences of that choice until Jesus comes again to deliver us. I have read many comments here today that let me know God's word is not being read. If only you would read His word with a heart that is desiring to understand rather than to disprove. Dear friends I beg you to get to know Jesus. The time is coming when He will come and put an end to all this wickedness. There are two choices: life or death. There will be no living forever in Hell. God is not a sadist as I have read in these comments. You will be in one of two groups, you will live forever with Jesus or you will be destroyed. Please choose Jesus and live!!!

    December 16, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • JWT

      Jesus and eternity are your thing. Please don't ask the rest of us to buy into it – there is no reason to.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • SImran

      Have you read any of the other Holy Books out there, or the books on philosophy? If read with an open mind, they make sense too!
      My point is that your faith in God is just that – FAITH! You have it in the idea of Christian God, some dont.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Anon

      The average christian mind:
      "I believe in the bible because I believe in the bible"
      Round and round goes the never ending cycle of religious circular logic.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Irreligious but friendly

      Tiny. I appreciate your sentiment. I know what you post is said with good intentions and I realize there are several mean irreligious posters who would treat you unfairly for your beliefs. I am not one of them. I do hope you undertand from my perspective though that in my world view there is no such thing as a Lucifer and I do not understand the concept of who or what "God" might be.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      You're certifiable! Although, I do love your comment that god got a bad "wrap". What – was the mayo a bit off? The lettuce not very fresh? Is that why god send the crazy gunman to kill those children – because he had a cosmic tummy ache?

      Hey, Tiny, what about the parts of the bible where your god is a horrific, murderous monster? You know, the parts about murder, r-ape, genocide, slavery? What about the entire concept of infinite torture (hell) simply because your god was too incompetent to provide good proof of his existence, so some rational people don't believe in him and are therefore condemned to burn forever?

      Nice guy, your god. But if I had a tummy ache from a bad wrap I'd probably be grumpy too.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Anon

      Irreligious but friendly: There's one little problem. In the fundamentalist mind once they find out an atheist you're the enemy, no exceptions. You can be the most pacifist atheist on the planet yet in their minds you're a devil worshiper who sacrifices animals.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • skytag

      There was a time when I bought into the Christian narrative. Then my eyes were opened.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • GinnyD

      Amen Tiny! Well said but remember what the bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:18, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Anon

      More bull$#it from the big book of myths aka the holey bibble?

      December 16, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • skytag

      Long on claims, short on evidence.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Damocles

      To sum up tiny's post: 'Nooo my deity isn't a vengeful sadist, he'll just kill you till you see the error of your ways.'

      I'm am, as always, forever puzzled on why a deity can not choose a less violent way of getting a point across. Wouldn't a simple whisper in the ear of the bad guy maybe have gotten the point across?

      December 16, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • tallulah13

      I think it's funny that you say your god is not a sadist, then talk about Jesus. What exactly wasn't sadistic about requiring a man to be tortured to death in order to forgive humanity for the crime of being human? I don't care if he was willing or not. A moral being does not require a blood sacrifice in order to accept an apology.

      December 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  18. lol??

    More Big Gubmint Socialist rationalizing. Just admit it, you're an antichrist and you have a penchant for creating fantasy gubmints that rule.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      "an' antichrist? There's more than one? What, pray tell, exactly IS an antichrist? Do tell us, oh wise sir lollipop.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Julia

      I appreciate libertarian ideals (less government)..but as to the rest of your post....huh?!?! I 'm sorry lol but I have no idea what just said.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • lol??

      No problem. "1Jo 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." ..............This should be easy for the Evolutionists to comprehend. After all the race is 400,000 years old to them and this was written only a couple K's ago.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Quoting from a book that claims that rabbits chew their cud, that bats are birds, and that insects have 4 legs.

      Well, you've convinced me.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • lol??

      Well Magic, if you want me to quote say, 'Robert's Rules of Order', you are as looney as you sound.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  19. JJ

    For those of you who are claiming over and over that their god slaughtered these children to make a point, because we "kicked him out of schools" – I thought humans, by now, would have evolved past claiming an angry god brings pestilence upon a population because we puny humans don't grovel at his sandals as much as we should. Should we go back to tossing a child once every week down the volcano shaft to slake his anger? Step outside your brainwashing and indoctrination and listen to how repulsive you sound.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Anon

      They'll probably come up with the that's not my god or my god is a loving god and some other useless apologist crap.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  20. skytag

    Many of the comments in this discussion demonstrate clearly why many atheists hate religion. Religions start innocently enough, as narratives that explain the otherwise explainable, offer comfort to those having difficulty dealing with injustice or loss, allow us to deny the finality of death, even believe we have an invisible friend who will control the elements for us and assure us victory in battle.

    To the extent these beliefs give people comfort and inspire them to be better people, it's all good. But there is a dark side. When something bad happens, such as an incident like this, a drought, an earthquake, a flood, a plague, or other natural disaster, in seeking explanations believers often conclude the problem is that God is not pleased with them. Of course it's never that he isn't pleased with them, it's that he isn't pleased with the nonbelievers, the atheists, the people in false (i.e., "other") religions, sinners, gays, witches; there has always been a group of people to blame for making God so unhappy that he's punishing everyone.

    The next step is to correct the problem by persecuting, punishing, or even eliminating the people who have offended God so he'll be happy again and stop the plague, make it rain, not let anymore earthquakes happen in the future, whatever. This is where it gets ugly. History is replete with examples of people who were killed, persecuted, tortured, burned at the stake, had their rights taken away from them, all in the name of protecting the people from the wrath of a being no one could even prove existed. This is the truly dark side of religion.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Anon

      Yep basically that. We wouldn't mind the religious even if they worshiped a rock but once they start screwing around with secular laws then that's when we complain.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • JWT

      I think part of it stems from the belief of some that if you don't believe in my version of my god then you are less than me. Many atheists are the same also. Somehow we need to get to the stage where we are accepting of each other but part of that needs to be the religious fanatics keeping their religion to themselves and out of our government and laws which have to speak for all the religions and non-religious as well.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Here is Real

      You missed the snake oil part, a whole bunch of witchdoctors, ministers, priests/popes evangelists, munks, mullahs, etc., etc. making a damn good living selling gods/religion. Religions combined probably have the largest cash flow of any business on earth, ka-ching.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Concerned

      I agree with secularism up to the point that as it isn't in turn taken so far as to start persecuting, punishing or even eliminating people just for having a religion.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • lol??

      More Big Gubmint Socialist rationalizing. Just admit it, you're an antichrist and you have a penchant for creating fantasy gubmints that rule.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Anon

      Concerned: No need to persecute the religious when education is slowly neutralizing faith based mentality.
      Persecution wouldn't even work well because that would drive their nonsense underground.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • skytag

      @JWT: Believers see themselves as superior to atheists and those with different religious beliefs because they think they can see truths others can't see. It's really the height of arrogance to think your believes for which you have no evidence whatsoever are more correct than anyone else's.

      Atheists tend to see themselves as better than believers in the sense that they are more rational thinkers. If I went around telling people I believed leprechauns were real, or that Santa Claus was a real person, or that alien abductions really happen, people would think I'm nuts. Believers have no more proof that God exists than I have that Santa Claus exists, yet everyone is suppose to respect their beliefs as reasonable.

      If I say I don't believe Santa Claus is real, no one attacks me. No one treats me as if I only believe that because I'm too defective in some way to see the truth.

      I don't believe in God, Satan, Hell, Santa Claus, leprechauns, the Easter bunny, or alien abductions, and all for the same reason: I have never seen any reason to even suspect any of these exist. Well, that's not quite true. As a child I found presents under the Christmas tree with cards on them saying they were from Santa Claus, so of all those things I'd have to say the one with the most "evidence" for its existence is Santa Claus. Oh, and the tooth fairy, though I did find quarters under my pill when I put a lost tooth under it.

      And to those who try to argue that atheism is a religion I would say that if not believing in God is a religion then isn't not believing in Santa Claus also a religion?

      December 16, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Anon

      skytag: Don't try your handy pansy heathen logic on me, mister.
      Jesus is lord and I believe in the bible because I believe in the bible.
      (Even pretending makes my brain hurt, lol)

      December 16, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • lol??

      Anon, you are correct about the persecution thing the atheists like to practice. Christians are not going to "take over" while you are having fun........"Mat 7:14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

      December 16, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Anon

      More bull$#it from the big book of myths aka the holey babble?

      December 16, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • skytag

      @Concerned: I don't think that's ever been a problem outside of a few totalitarian regimes that persecuted or suppressed religion because it had the power to organize resistance to the regime.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:49 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.