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Arizona firefighter families: `Is God punishing us?'
Prescott, Arizona, welcomes home a procession of hearses of 19 firefighters after a 100-mile procession, returning the bodies of members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
July 9th, 2013
11:40 AM ET

Arizona firefighter families: `Is God punishing us?'

Opinion by John S. Dickerson, special to CNN

Prescott, Arizona (CNN) - If you stood next to one in a grocery store line, you could smell the smoke on his fire pants.

They were known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but to us they were sturdy, sweaty, smoke-stained neighbors, fathers, friends, husbands, sons and uncles.

They were the strong shoulders and backs who ran into danger to protect us. Just two weeks ago they ran toward the 200-footl flames of the Doce Fire northwest of Prescott, diverting it away from my neighborhood.

On June 30, while battling a fierce wildfire in Yarnell, 19 of these elite Prescott firefighters died. It was the deadliest day for firefighters since September 11, 2001, and it had a devastating effect on our small community.

I’m a pastor, and like many in Prescott, for me the past week has been a chaotic rush of emotion, effort and helplessness. I’ve focused on helping firefighters’ families from my own congregation and counseling others directly involved. I’m doing my best to help our community grieve and support the surviving families.

I went to my church office in Prescott on July 4 hoping for some quiet. I knew nobody would be there on a holiday afternoon. As I pulled into the empty parking lot, I realized that we hadn’t dropped our flag to half-staff. We’d been too busy trying to pick people up.

I set my briefcase on the concrete and made my way over to the flagpole. It was emotional to feel the raw, weathered rope threading between my hands. I watched the gigantic flag stoop lower and lower, until it found a posture befitting the broken heart of our community.

A kaleidoscope of memories rushed through my mind:

The eerie silence as families, firefighters, police, friends and pastors gathered at Mile High Middle School to learn the names of the 19 who perished.

The police officer who had the unimaginable job of knocking on the door of each young wife and fiancée to tell her that her man didn’t make it.

The lone surviving firefighter, Brendan McDonough, still smelling of smoke, anguished by grief, surrounded in a huddle of compassion in a middle school classroom.

The young wife, Stephanie Turbyfill, who came to me for prayer - moments after learning that her husband, Travis, was among the 19.

Chief Darrell Willis, who climbed the mountain in the dark and spent the night next to the deceased men, protecting them, being with them - demonstrating the undying loyalty of a true firefighter.

Jen Lucas, the wife whose husband would have been with the 19 had he not been hiking the Grand Canyon.

The community gathering of 6,000 Prescott folks, giving the grieving families standing ovations, love, words of affirmation and police escorts to protect them from prying reporters.

The 19 purple balloons we released into the heavens, acknowledging our heroes' departure from this life to the next.

In situations like these, we sometimes wonder, “If there’s a God who is good, then why do tragedies like this happen?”

I wondered that in December, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The thought returned on the night of July 2, when I stood before thousands of Prescott residents, attempting to comfort them .

I locked eyes with the families of the fallen firefighters. The shell-shocked young widows. The middle-aged moms who had cuddled and cared for these heroes as growing boys. The little boys and girls who don’t understand that they will never see their daddies again - at least not in this life.

It’s not comforting to me in moments like these to simply declare, “God is in control.” That might be comforting if you’re a spiritual giant or less touched by tragedy. But when you’re at the very center of the storm, it sure doesn’t feel like God is in control, or even watching.

“At times like this,” I told the families, “we might wonder: Is God mad at me? Did God do this because I did something wrong?” That’s a question some have asked me in private. It’s a question we all ask at some point in our lives. And it’s a question that I can answer for you, just as I did for those grieving in Prescott. “God is not mad at you, and He is not punishing you.”

For those of us who believe in a Creator God, Scripture says that He does not make or perpetrate evil. He is not the author of death, but of life. In the end, he will defeat evil and death. Until then, we live in a world infected with evil. The result is tornadoes, hurricanes and, in Prescott, lightning-ignited wildfires that destroy and kill.

When God saw us agonizing in the fallout of evil, He “so loved the world, that He sent His only son,” Jesus Christ, so that whoever believes in Him will be delivered out of the brokenness of this world.

It was Jesus, walking among us, who said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

He was referring to his death on the cross for us, but his words declare a universal truth: There is no greater love than to sacrifice your life. The people of Prescott will be forever loyal to these firefighters and their families because they laid down their lives for us.

Hotshot crews are taught to always keep one foot in “the black” (the area that has already burned) and another foot in “the green” (the unburnt forest).

Our community will always have one foot in the “black” of our grief. We will also, in time, have another foot in the “green,” the new life and healing that will follow. We will grieve, and we will rebuild.

John S. Dickerson is senior pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Prescott, Arizona, and author of the book,“The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors that Will Crash the American Church…and How to Prepare.” The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Dickerson. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Arizona • Belief • Christianity • Church • Death • Faith • Opinion • Uncategorized

soundoff (513 Responses)
  1. Doobs

    @ Dull Beacon

    "My disappointment in your public education reading skills is only slightly less than my sadness that you don't recognize the prayer for eternal rest."

    "Om trayambakam yajaamahe sugandhim pushtivardhanam
    Urvaarukamiva bandhanaan mrityor muksheeya maamritaat."

    אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים, הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה עַל כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וטְהוֹרִים כְּזוֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים אֶת נִשְׁמַת פלוני בן פלוני שֶׁהָלַךְ לְעוֹלָמוֹ, בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁנָדְבוּ צְדָקָה בְּעַד הַזְכָּרַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ, לָכֵן בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים יַסְתִּירֵהוּ בְּסֵתֶר כְּנָפָיו לְעוֹלָמִים, וְיִצְרֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמָתוֹ, ה' הוּא נַחֲלָתוֹ, וְיָנוּחַ בְּשָׁלוֹם עַל מִשְׁכָּבוֹ, וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן" Kel Maleh Rachamim

    All religions have prayers for the dead and the mourning. How many Hindu prayers for the dead or Jewish prayers for the dead do you know, Bill?

    I'm so disappointed that you don't recognize the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and Kel Maleh Rachamim. Your education is sorely lacking. How sad.

    July 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Doobs

      Misfire.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  2. Brother Maynard

    I think the real problem here is that the religious should stop writting articles like this one. Becuase the real answer is "I don't know why ... "
    I remember there was a similar one when the Sandy Hook tragedy happend. I also remember the " Where was God?" article after the Aurora Movie shooting.
    Whenever the religious attempt to explain tradedies like these though the scope of religion and god, all they really do is expose the void that is their religion. They would be better to say "There is no reason for this lose you suffer ... but I'm here to help you through it in any way I can"

    July 9, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      That actually is what Christianity offers Maynard:

      Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. "And remember that I am always with you until the end of time."

      July 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Huebert

      The problem is that if one believes in an all powerful, all knowing god, one must accept the conclusion that said god could have stopped this tragedy, but choose not to. Therefor there must be some ineffable reason that god allowed such a tragedy to occur.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      And BD will now prove my point
      ""And remember that I [I'll assume this is Jesus ] am always with you until the end of time.""
      " ... taking away your loved ones in fires / in elementary schools / in movie theaters "
      gotta love the all powerful god that sits by the sidelines and watches as he destroyes his creation that he loves.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Hubert, God is not passive.

      He did not "allow" this to happen, he did it. Personally and individually he annihilated these men.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Hello Herbie the Love bug,

      What measures a person's death is their way upon which one dies and how others view such an issue. Could not the firefighting constabulary have created fire-break lines long before the potential of a forest fire was ever to be born? Why should they have waited for a fire to happen?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  3. Reality

    What god? Whose god? And where does this god reside?

    And whose god is responsible for the following?

    Why would your god allow the following:

    Number of god's creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

    1. 300,000,000 approx.
    Smallpox

    2. 200,000,000 ?
    Measles

    3. 100,000,000 approx.
    Black Death

    4. 80,000,000–250,000,000
    Malaria

    5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
    Spanish Flu

    6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
    Plague of Justinian

    7. 40,000,000–100,000,000
    Tuberculosis

    8. 30,000,000[13]
    AIDS pandemic

    9. 12,000,000 ?
    Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

    10. 5,000,000
    Antonine Plague

    11. 4,000,000
    Asian Flu

    12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

    July 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Horrible death? Could you explain Reality what a pleasant death is?
      Death is the end of our existence and all that we are if one doesn't believe in something more. So the destruction of who and what we are seems terrible to me.

      Though if one like you do not believe in anything beyond death, then there is nothing horrible about any death is there? We live and the end of all life is death. So how can you call death, any death, horrible?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Pleasant death would be one where you don't realize you are dying. Lack of oxygen supplies such a death. The individual takes on a giddy happiness and simply falls asleep. The age we live in is far too advanced for so many of us to continue to die horrible and painful deaths when we don't have to.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Cpt. Obvious- "Pleasant death would be one where you don't realize you are dying."

      So, would you say a religious person is ignorant about how the real world works? That they should open their eyes and mind to the way things are and find comfort in that? Seems most atheists would go with that.

      But when it comes to the perfectly normal and natural process of death, you would say that a pleasant death would be where you are totally ignorant about your state of being as the process is happening. Shouldn't a person that holds to the idea that life should be experienced without blinders of any kind hope to experience all of it like that...even death?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Observer

      Lycidas

      "So how can you call death, any death, horrible?"

      Maybe if you were horribly caught in a fire someday you might suddenly become far wiser and temporarily able to ask more intelligent questions.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Ly, either your point is poorly made or doesn't exist. A reasonable person will chooses the best method available for a given task. Reasonable people avoid pain when possible. If the pain has a purpose, then that reasonable individual must decide using reasoning as usual. Perhaps some reasonable people refuse all medications and modern medical comfort during extreme illness or painful death, but I am not privy to that reasoning.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Hello Reality,

      Why are "numbers" of so much importance when the average commoner seldom visualizes them in nuanced perspectives?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Hello Reality,

      Why are "numbers" of so much importance when the average commoner seldom visualizes them in nuanced perspectives?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Of course you are Cpt. You've been told the wages of sin is death and that rejection of God's grace means eternity in hell and yet you still choose sin and reject God. I'd say you're well acquainted with the thinking of why people would choose pain

      July 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      Here's some more delusional thinking about why your loving god allows his creations to suffer, from the patron saint of unnecessary suffering (not mine, but I forgot who first called her that) herself:

      "Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you." Mother Teresa

      July 9, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • John Stemberger

      Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      Here's some more delusional thinking about why your loving god allows his creations to suffer, from the patron saint of unnecessary suffering (not mine, but I forgot who first called her that) herself:

      "Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you." Mother Teresa
      ...............

      Mother Teresa was a sadist

      July 9, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Bill, if possible, please try to make some sort of sense when you post. Thanks.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      For the vast majority of human history, most humans met their end just like every other animal on the planet, by being eaten alive. That is the truly horrifying death, and with the exception of the occasional mountain lion attack, the only time we meet our ends this way is by being eaten alive from the inside by some cancer or disease. If you ask anyone what is the worst way to die, most would describe a lingering painful death by disease.

      This is why man invented god – because self awareness and the horror of an anticipated demise required some self delusion in order to just go on with life.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • fred

      My Dog is a jealous Dog
      "This is why man invented god – because self awareness and the horror of an anticipated demise required some self delusion in order to just go on with life."
      =>Atheists are certainly a conflicted bunch. You make statements like this that have no basis in fact yet demand scientific proof of everything a Christian says. I suspect you cover your fear with the illusion nothingness awaits..............ah such peaceful eternal slumber...................
      =>you can recover if you begin by admitting your delusion is just that a delusion.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ John Stemberger

      Can you imagine having the resources to help thousands of terminally ill patients die free from pain and choosing NOT to use them, then excusing it by calling their suffering a gift from god?

      It also becomes a convenient excuse for seeing thousands of starving, homeless children and then telling women that birth control is wrong. I guess suffering infants and children get extra brownie points.

      Complete psycho.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Reality

      And the answer to it all? There is no god or gods or any other supreme beings !!!

      July 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Observer- "Maybe if you were horribly caught in a fire someday you might suddenly become far wiser and temporarily able to ask more intelligent questions."

      Hmm, going to a over the top hypothetical eh? That's pretty desperate isn't it?
      So you think that deluding yourself so you can deny the experience of death if better than accepting reality and facts?
      Forgive me but isn't the the type of stuff you condemn religious people for?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Cpt. Obvious- "either your point is poorly made or doesn't exist."

      I vote for the third option, you don't understand.

      "A reasonable person will chooses the best method available for a given task. Reasonable people avoid pain when possible."

      So if a resonable person has a faith that helps avoid the pains of the world....you support that? If it brings them to the best possible outcome for their life you are ok with that?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Ly, I assume that most believers use reasoning and logic (some of it very poor) to continue in their beliefs, and I assume that most of them do not examine their religious beliefs because of the pain that action brings. I do not have anything against god believers, and I admire a great many of them. In the case of 99.5% of the believers I know and converse with, I would prefer that they keep their faith-–at least for the time being.

      You really do assume too much and far too eagerly, I think. Your ego is preventing you from gathering more pertinent information or more acute amusement/joy from these interactions, I believe. Your tenacity for your position is out of balance with your desire to find relevance or truth, in my opinion. You would do well to seek help on your anger (mostly passive aggressive) and your ease with which you swim in your own biases, I think. I wish you well and I hope you seek help.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Just to be clear. It is NEVER my goal to convince a believer to become a nonbeliever/atheist. NEVER. In the majority of cases, I hope that the believer does NOT give up his belief in god.

      I just want to be absolutely clear.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Cpt. Oblvious- " I do not have anything against god believers, and I admire a great many of them."

      That's nice at least.

      "You really do @ssume too much and far too eagerly, I think."

      As much as anyone else on a blog board like this does I would imagine.

      "Your ego is preventing you..."

      And here is the tactic of trying to deflect the conversation from the topic and to the other person.

      "gathering more pertinent information or more acute amusement/joy from these interactions, I believe."

      I gather information just fine. If there is an example of where I have ignored some information, I would like to see it.

      "You would do well to seek help on your anger (mostly passive aggressive) and your ease with which you swim in your own biases, I think. I wish you well and I hope you seek help."

      Ignoring your passive aggressive ad hominem, I have no anger issues on here and I do not deny that like everyone else on here...I can have certain biases. A good devil's advocate has to point out your flaws...how else are you going to learn? If learning is really your goal on here.

      It's always amusing that when I point out flaws in other people's arguments or challenge them...I'm somehow angry. Yet, when others (a great number of them atheists) do the same thing...then they are simply explaining stuff. Their cursing and insults are somehow not anger oriented. Odd how that works isn't it? It's blatant hypocricy I think.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Observer

      Lycidas

      "How can you call ANY death horrible?"

      I give you an example of one that JUST HAPPENED to 19 men and is the subject of THIS BLOG and you say "going to a over the top hypothetical eh?That's pretty desperate isn't it?"

      Wow! What a pathetic response. You might not be ready for prime time on this blog.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  4. Brother Maynard

    From the article
    "There is no greater love than to sacrifice your life."
    That seems to work ok for the members of the hot shot crew ... but
    Are you telling me the Sandy Hook Elementary kids "sacrified" their lives?

    July 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      no, they were victims

      July 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Afternoon Brother Maynard,

      Grief is but a spurting revelation for to be a shallow drawn out consideration seldom viewed but in a shortness of time. Today we remember will come the day after tomorrow we have forgotten.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      exactly ... which begs the question why the author referenced them.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I think he was only talking about the firefighters.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      "In situations like these, we sometimes wonder, “If there’s a God who is good, then why do tragedies like this happen?”

      I wondered that in December, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The thought returned on the night of July 2, when I stood before thousands of Prescott residents, attempting to comfort them"
      hmm maybe I am reading too much into this ... but AFTER this, Mr Dickerson gives his explaination as to the "reason" why tragedies occur, ending up with " no greater sacrifice than to give your life ( as Jesus did ).

      July 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No wonder the Bible confuses you.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Kind Brother Maynard,

      We all live within a world where troubling circumstances become a moralizing issue and our civil socializations are kept in broadly based sensualist referencing. We love one another within the spurting rationalisms of gestured communion in personalized ambiguities which never are fully born out amongst other creeds. Live therefore one's Life in stewardship upon another's waywardness floundering ways.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      No wonder facts confuse you.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  5. Ellie

    And to those who have attacked Mr. Deacon for posting the prayer for eternal rest: You don't know him. How could you possibly know what efforts he has made for the living? Why would you assume ANYTHING about the reasons that motivate him? You are very hard on those who believe in what you think is an imaginary God, yet you have no trouble imagining that you know the actions (as well as what is in the mind and heart) of someone about whom you know nothing at all. I suggest you rein in your hubris.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      I see no evidence of Care Bears. I see no evidence for Care-A-Lot. I do see people who need more than compassionate but confusing words of support like "Your loved ones are in Care-A-Lot now and will be happy with Love-A-Lot Bear and his freinds!"

      It seem's to me those creating fantasies to feel good about themselves are the ones making lite of this tragedy, not those making lite of those making lite.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Maybe if Mr Deacon didn't use his belief to hate and dictate, people would not have reason to call him out. Now be a good little troll and find your bridge, Bill is quite capable of defending himself. His god, as with every other god is imaginary until there is evidence to state otherwise.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Oh contrare... Hang around here awhile and you too shall know Mr. Deacon... and I say that in a totally nuetral "make your own opinion" kind of way...

      July 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Good day to you Truth Prevails,

      The light that is neutrally ensued will forever kindle a flame no matter one's standing principality. Believe what one does endure to consider. My beliefs will seldom incur anyone's approvals nor should adherence to my words become delegated as being a biased none issues in placated permissible onslaughts of bigoted revelries meant negative consternations.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Sue Anne

      Ellie
      We would have made the same comments if Bill had recited an ancient Egyptian or modern-day Hindu prayer for the dead, wishing the dead find peace in the presence of Ra, or Krishna, and you may even have joined us.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  6. *

    It's amazing. All of you that are yammering on and on about God not doing anything and by your own thoughts, you are JUST like him.

    You aren't doing anything for these people. You are helping no one.

    I'll expect the pithy and pitiful responses from you, you and your ilk are easily offended when the truth is put out there for all to see. And yes, I realize that there is no evidence that I'm doing anything either but that's not the point twits. I'm not here taking advantage of a bad situation to promote my views beyond you are hypocrites.

    Have a nice day.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I just got back from several hours of unscheduled volunteer work on my day off. You?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • *

      That's a good Saras, good good Saras.
      Oh, you must have missed the, "And yes, I realize that there is no evidence that I'm doing anything either but that's not the point twits", part of my post. But that's ok, I'm sure it was hard to read from that pedestal you stand on.
      Seriously though, from the comments I've mostly read that came from you, my initial comment wasn't really aimed at you.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Some can only strive in vain to be 'pithy,' alas...

      July 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  7. Lionly Lamb

    People may mourn today but for how long will one's mourning verifiably last? Civilizations are politically cultured to reminisce and remember the societal ills in order to give credence and valuation a potential servicing of idealized importance among individualized sentient beings' conscience.

    I am sorry to knowingly be informed about such a travesty unfolding yet I will not be veered away from my living continuation. These "hotshots" are now in the hands of the powers that we know not of. Our timid relationships with the unknown will always be just that; an unknowable commodity.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  8. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    "In the end, he will defeat evil and death."

    He's all powerfull but more like an Ion thruster, it takes a while for him to reach maximum all powerfullness... or at least all powerfull enough to defeat some of his own creations...

    July 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Cialis for Gods might give him more consistent performance

      July 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  9. Deanna Ekings

    Looking at the comments in response to the heartfelt and comforting words of our local Pastor makes me sick. Save your nasty comments for another time, we are grieving the deaths of our local heroes. Here is what I have to say, until you understand and know Who God is and How He works in our lives, especially during difficult and tragic times, keep your unwelcome comments to yourself. I know what it is like to experience a tragic and sudden loss of someone I love and I went through it without knowing Who God is, it was the darkest time in my life. Now, years later, understanding Who He is and how He works in my life I can truly grasp the concept of unconditional, comforting love that only Jesus Christ can give. So as for the rest of you I want for you the same thing I have received that is forgiveness through Jesus Christ and complete understanding of why bad things happen to good people. Only then can you understand God, just try Him, if you don't like what you get then you can always turn away.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I sympathize that firefighters have lost their lives doing a dangerous job. However, this is not a comfort site for the bereaved... Maybe you should question your great and loving god as to why they needed to die and why does he feel the need to punish their families? Maybe Jesus doesn't like you or your town?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      "I can truly grasp the concept of unconditional, comforting love that only Jesus Christ can give"

      That's all well and good for the in group but if you simply dont believe in your god you burn in heII for all eternity.

      Sounds all loving to me, NOT!

      July 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Deanna Ekings, I understand your position, and I agree with you that some of the comments from nonbelievers have been in poor taste, but you have no right to make the demands that you do. That's the trade off for living in a county that allows free speech. You are allowed to lie, and claim to "know" things (like god and what he wants) when it is merely a belief. If knowledge of god were rationally attainable (like all other knowledge) all people from all areas around the globe would serve the same god and know precisely how he wants us to act, just like what happened with humanity's knowledge of math and chemistry. Why don't you work on honesty, and using the proper term (belief) instead of improper terms (knowledge) and we'll work on how to present our perspectives to believers in more sensitive ways in times when they are relying so heavily on their religious delusion?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Three examples of why atheism will always be a fringe position

      July 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Deanna

      Just try it?

      Are you pushing God, or Heroin???

      July 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      You need no God to feel compassion for these families. You need no God to give comfort to those in need. You need no God to make sense of tragedy. The problem is when religious leaders like this pastor want to bring God into the discussion, it's like saying "Well, I know 19 of these dads and sons and brothers and uncles died in our town, so it makes us wonder, do the Care Bears not care anymore? Is Care-a-Lot on strrike? Why didn't Rainbow Bear make it rain on the fire?"

      Try loving, giving, caring and doing the right thing just for it's own sake, it's own reward. Try it without the fear of heII or the promise of heaven, you may find it's far more rewarding.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • OTOH

      Deanna Ekings,
      " just try Him, if you don't like what you get then you can always turn away."

      I was a believer for nearly 50 years. I finally had to admit to myself that there is no-one there. Perhaps I "turned away" from the fantasies and superst'itions of The Bible, and from religion, but I did not turn away from something that is not there.

      I give you my sincere sympathy, empathy and condolences for your and your town's tragic losses. I wish you well.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Cpt'O. The problem you have is that maybe for the crusades or even 9/11 or the countless other times that Faith has been used in the negative, you have some rabid Atheist who are copies of the Westburo Baptist or the greatest hits of the 700 Club. Basically all of them are just bullies using a tragedy to further their agenda, be it of Faith or not of Faith.

      The great thing is the cure for both rabid Atheism and the Westburo's on the Faithful side is the same. Tolerance. Which is just another example how close the extremist on both sides are to one another. The same thing kills both.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Doobs

      More hit and run trolling for the RCC by the liar and coward Bill Deacon.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Deanna: You fail to comprehend that most non-believers did believe, then one day they realized how none of it is substantiated with evidence. Our hearts go out to Arizona, this is a horrible tragedy and a horrible act of nature.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Mark, if you'd like me to consider your posts, perhaps write on a topic that has something to do with me or my post. Just a suggestion.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Deacon posts a fair point: Individuals who are very comfortable in their delusion will seldom find the wherewithal to consider facts and their implications. It's similar to why a successful drug dealer on Medicaid and other government a.s.sistance programs feels no motivation to go get a job for which he is qualified and only provides minimum wage. Why develop and utilize courage, diligence, and reasoning if it's such hard work and so unnecessary from within your cozy bubble of "spirit"-comfort?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      +1 OTOH

      July 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      A good early afternoon to Deanna Ekings and you top notch posters,

      God is the unknowable quotient in the celestial boundaries of our civilizations amassed potencies engendered animosities commonwealths. Get on with living and grieve not but for a little age. Generations from now these 19 deaths will be but as a footnote in some obscure booking. Their vendetta will be with God and all of His sons. May your Life's passion be your cause for wanton living within a world of variable consequences. Life here is way too short to be grieving for too long.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bill,

      "Three examples of why atheism will always be a fringe position"

      How do you define a "fringe" position? Less than what percent of the population?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Hi Sara, "fringe" may have been the wrong expression. What I meant to say is that even if the philosophical and logical arguments for atheism made sense, which they don't, I would still be disinclined to accept it as my stance because of the rabid vampirism I witness among so many adherents. Demographics has almost nothing to do with it.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Saraswati

      OK, thanks Bill, that makes more sense, though I disagree. I think you will find in other countries that are less dominated by Christianity that atheism is quieter and really mostly a non-issue. In Europe, China, Ja.pan and Australia, for instance, you will rarely find people as angry because you will rarely find people who feel so hurt by the religious majority.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      There's no denying the harms that have been done. It's a tragedy really that such things so often keep people away from the Gospel for the wrong reasons.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Bill, you claim that the arguments for atheism don't make logical sense. Could you please provide some examples of what you are talking about? Perhaps a "semi-decent" argument for atheism, and a "terrible" argument for atheism; or perhaps four--two for logical and two for philosophical?

      On a similar note, do you realize that the majority of what you say makes very little logical sense? If the problem is your reasoning ability, wouldn't the evidence appear exactly the same?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bill, although I personally believe there are many good reasons not to choose most forms of Christianity as a belief system, I agree with you that the reasons which actually motivate such rejections are based on narrow experiences that are far from representative, or at least not exhaustive of all that Christianity can be. On the other hand I think that many Christians equally reject atheism or belief systems such as Buddhism, Unitarianism or Humanism, based on false ideas about those beliefs or narrow personal experiences.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      If I had absolutely no context for atheism or belief, but I drew all my knowledge from postings on these blogs, I would almost immediately reject god belief because of the amount of stupidity evidenced in the posts by the believers. I would conclude that azzholes abound regardless and bear no relationship to god belief.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      A reasonable question Cpt. Here's my attempt which I posted earlier on another thread:

      I response to the statement "All men are sinners", an atheist told me he was a good person. It would soon bear out that he admitted he had made mistakes, been dishonest a time or two and committed other wrongs. He still felt like he was, on balance, a good person. The problem is that compared to an absolute standard of goodness, he is not. He is like a drop of motor oil in a cool glass of water. Would you drink that? So, what he is really saying is that he is "good enough". He means he is good enough to get by in society and among his friends. He doesn't even accept the possibility of absolute, objective goodness. He is an apologist for mediocrity. The Christian, on the other hand, acknowledges his mediocrity in the face of the eternal, infinite good. He holds to the promise that he may one day be united with that goodness, not by his own effort but by the consuming power of goodness that comes from that eternal source. Why would I trade that promise so that I could apologize for being mediocre?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bill, I have never met a person, religious or secular, who lived up to their own moral standards, but barring a few sociopaths, all have had standards. If you start with the premise that there is eternal life and that your particular standards will make a difference, then of course you pick those. But otherwise, and in a shared society, we pick the standards that bring us the greatest welbbeing here in life on earth.

      On another topic, my question to you a few threads back got lost. If there were a referendum to ban civil divorce and remmarriage, would you vote for it?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I guess it depends on whether you value comfort over truth, Bill. If a person holds a delusion that makes them happy most of the time, why would they want to trade that for truth? It's a good question, and it appears that the case is for not knowing truth. There is an actual case of a young man with a severe brain injury that causes him to have seizures often with very pleasant "religious-like" hallucinations. The individual has refused to have the operation that would fix his seizures because he enjoys the occasional mind o.r.g.a.s.m.s so much. I don't judge this man, but of course he can't drive and function as a normal person, either.

      No, I would say that if you value personal comfort over the comfort of others and reality and the reality others might have because of your correct reasoning, you should be religious in a world view that gives you the comfort you desire.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Charles

      Bill Deacon
      Why is it logical to compare people to "an absolute standard of goodness"? Even if you could prove that such a perfect standard is exemplified by a god, what would that matter? Humans and gods would be different species, proverbial apples and oranges with regards to the question of "goodness". If Christians can argue that a god who personally slaughtered almost all of humanity in a flood, ordered other mass slaughters and sacrificed his own son just for some symbolic purpose was still "good" by his standards, and that any human doing such things would be evil according to our idea of human goodness, then where is this absolute standard of goodness that you wish to judge humans by? It can't be God, right?

      July 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Charles

      Deanna Ekings
      Do you assume that Christian comments are never unwelcome? There are a lot of non-Christians who really do not welcome Christian comments during their times of trouble. Yet, I've been to the funerals of atheist friends, and their Christian relatives who knew exactly what they were still felt it within their rights to say the most vile things that would have offended the dead person in life. Is this not being hypocritical?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  10. Akira

    This is such a sad event; my sincerest sympathy to the families who have lost their loved ones.

    Their spirit lives on; and in one case, the heart of one was transplanted into a recipient who will live on, due to one of the heroes that gave his life fighting this horrible fire.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I would have thought the heart was well done?

      So does the soul go with the heart? if so isn't taking out the diseased one murder, or do they now have two souls in one meat bag?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • I wonder

      Where did you hear that, Akira? As far as I have heard, these 19 died in the field. How would any organs have been viable with the length of time it took to find their bodies?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Charles

      William
      Yes, there is a lot of Christian talk about how the heart "feels" for the soul, so wouldn't that imply that part of that man's soul in now in another, or is it just another organ after all?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Charles, you're two for two in the dumb comments department. Maybe you should get a glass of tea or something

      July 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      Instead of your usual ad hominems, cowardice and lies, why don't you answer some of the questions that have been posed to you in various threads?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Akira

      I am friends with the wife of the surgeon who did the transplant. I asked the very same thing! According to her, the donor was one of the first found and they knew he was an organ donor, so they worked fast.
      I know he did the surgery on July 4th.

      I can't speculate on whether a soul is transferable or not.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Probably because I had more interesting conversations going on Doobs.

      Akira, wouldn't it be interesting to see how the life of the recipient impacts the world?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Alias

      @ Doobs
      Bill Deacon has no answers, and inadequate testicular fortitude to admit it.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      Bulldung, Deacon. You run off when the questions get too tough for you to rationalize. You are a coward and a liar.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      All right hot shot. Lay this giant unanswerable question on me that you seem to feel I am the only source for.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      No more dodge and deflect, Bill. You know what I'm talking about. Don't try to highjack this thread – go answer the many questions that several of us have posed to you in their proper places. You can pick any recent thread, so don't give me any crap about how you can't find it.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      tick, tock, tick, tock

      July 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I guess we see who lacks the balls to stand face to face and even ask a question. I'm not going off on some snipe hunt at your whim. If you have a question about Catholicism read the catechism. If you have a question about the Supreme court, read the case law. If you have a question about governance, read the Constiitution. If you have a question about me I've given you a chance to ask it and you welched. So, pack it up and move along junior.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bill, I think you may have missed my question on another thread: If there were a referendum, state or national, to outlaw civil divorce and remarriage, would you vote for it?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Alias

      I know. I don't expect a real answer.

      Bill is a coward and a liar. I've called him out at least twice on it, and others have done the same, almost daily. It must be exhausting to come up with these rationalizations for his book and his religion.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Deacon, why are you a jerk? Do you find that it often helps your cause?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • I wonder

      Wow, Akira, that is wonderful, whoever the donor was. I still do have a bit of a question as to whether the donor was one of these firefighters. They died on Jun. 30... hearts are only viable for several hours, not days, after death, so Jul. 4 is a bit far off.

      Sorry, I hate to be a skeptic, but I've seen too many incorrect internet rumors.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      You know exactly what I'm talking about, Bill. You aren't the type of person to forget who and where you got caught in a lie and had to run off. Cowards love their persecution complexes. You don't even have to look far, or for a post that I've been involved in. Scroll up a page or two – you get called out by others daily on your lying and cowardice.

      You can't and won't answer because you lied and you know it. Puffing out your chest, questioning my balls or lack thereof, calling me "junior", tick-tocking, and your other attempts to divert the discussion won't work.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Charles

      Bill Deacon
      Are you saying that you've never heard a Christian say that they "feel" things in their hearts, and that they believe that their hearts are not just organs?

      July 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Charles, I have never heard a christian say their hearts are more than just organs, and all references have been figurative. Where are you hearing these statements?

      July 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  11. Minister Gertrude Ferguson - Founder & CEO- Enough Tribulations

    R.I.P. HOTSHOT CREWS.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      What a hilariously cheesy webpage... Rhetorical question: How sad and pathetic does your character have to be to need such childish quotes to get you through the tribulations of life?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Basically

      Gotta love those Christians whose real agenda is to pimp their website.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Very good article that epitomizes the helpless feeling we have as Christians when faced with tragedy.

    No words of mine are comprehensible to someone that does not believe, but it is in my belief that I draw comfort and the ability/desire to get up the next day when this world hits the hardest. I respect those of you that do not have faith and lean on something else for strength. While we may not agree about God, I think we can all agree that every person must find their way through the anguish in whatever way they can.

    I wish you all well and hope your thoughts (and/or prayers) are with those struggling to come to terms with this tragedy.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Your words are comprehensilbe. It is your beliefs that are idiotic and reprehensible.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Jeff

      Go ahead explain.

      Or do you fear being seen the fool?

      Either your God did it, or he did not. Either he is in control or he is not.

      Faith is always hiding behind the inexplicable, because it can't exist in the bright light of reality

      July 9, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Nice sentiment, Jeff. I agree with you that believers have something that the nonbelievers don't when it comes to tragedy and death. I don't find the payoff to be worth the daily devotion to the illogical and unprovable, but the payoff does exist for those with the belief. Good luck to you.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Charles

      @Jeff
      You're partially right. I use to understand these things just as you do, but it never really made any sense. I realize now that I was mistaken.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      @ Charles; How can you understand something that never made sense?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I'm a non god-believer and I found your words quite reasonable. I hope all these families will find whatever comfort helps them and that it is a comfort that is compatible also with the greater wellbeing and freedoms of society. I suspect there are many roads to that end.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      You should know. Your religion is canonizing a man who covered up for pedophiles in his ranks. How do you resolve the cognitive dissonance?

      I believe what Charles meant when he said that he believed "as you do", is that he believed what he was told without really questioning the logic of it, but it never quite sat well with what he knew was true in the natural world. That unease made him ask the tough questions and he came to the conclusion that he was incorrect to believe in deities and religion. I could be wrong. I'm sure Charles will correct me if that's the case.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Charles

      Bill Deacon
      Maybe I shouldn't have said "understood". I knew the usual theological explanations, and could parrot them like everyone else, but they never really made any sense to me. See what I mean?

      July 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  13. Job

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHdcyue0bSw

    July 9, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Peter

      I wonder just how many hurricane victims' last thoughts were of how wonderful that storm of God's was?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Ken

      @Peter

      How many atheists does it take to screw in a metaphorical light bulb ?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Ellie

      Peter and others who replied: I didn't say God was like a parent. I don't profess to know whether there is a God or not, and I'm not trying to convince anyone one way or the other. I'm merely saying, and I repeat, if the purpose of life is to grow in wisdom and love, then the world kind of has to be the way it is – because we grow from experience, and not all of that experience is good. If you believe (as I do) that we live more than once and that this is not our only life and our only chance, then the world makes a lot more sense. But in any event, what I said still applies whether God made the world or nature made it. Wanting a world without pain or danger is like wanting fire that isn't hot and doesn't burn – which, of course, wouldn't be fire at all.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Peter

      Ellie
      Why can't we grow in wisdom and love within the one lifetime that we know for certain that we have? It's a nice though that you can have an infinite number of do-overs in order to get this "living" thing down right, but what if you're on your 158th life, feeling really Buddha-like, and you just end up being the infant victim of rampant disease for your next dozen rebirths? Doesn't sound all that great to me!

      July 9, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  14. Ellie

    If you have children or anyone you love, you know that if you could keep them completely safe from harm you would also be keeping them completely safe from growth and maturity, from the development of character, from life itself. Whether God or nature made the world, it's a place of both joy and danger, and we can't have one without the other. If there were no evil allowed to exist in the world, how would we recognize good? If there were no loss possible, how would we learn to value the ones we love? If you believe (as I do) that we are in this world to grow in wisdom and love, then it does make sense for the world to be the way it is – whether you believe in God or not. Of course, if you believe there is no purpose to anything, I'm afraid I can't do much for you.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Are you suggesting that god is bound by a higher law than himself? If god has to make evil so that we know what good is, who told him that was the requirement, and who made sure he obeyed the rule?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Cpt

      Obviously.

      We are rational, we will NOT be bound to rules that apply only to lesser.

      Any belief system that encourages otherwise is slavery under another name.

      If God wont play by his own rules, why should we? God breaks ALL the commandments and is a pathetic role model. He is worse than some lame ghetto pop figure who does as he pleases

      Well I for one say let DJ Jeebus be held accountable. We should burn his temples down and string him up in the town square

      July 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Peter

      Ellie
      If God is like a human parent, when does he allow his "children" to mature and start making decisions for themselves?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      If this god is all powerful then it would take just as much effort for him to keep everyone safe than it would to allow the tragedies that happen.

      More indirect evidence that there are no gods.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Kev

      I do believe that there is a higher law that even God adheres to and that God chose willingly to follow the higher law just like we are given the choice whether or not to willingly follow the law. In fact I do believe that it was due to the fact of God following that higher law was why there was a need to sacrifice his only begotten son. The price had to be paid for our sins if there was ever a chance for us to be saved. I believe that law could not be just overridden by God at will.

      I also believe that God also wanted us to overcome death as well, but that God himself could not overcome the bonds of death on our behalf because God was already an immortal being who could not die, which was why I believe God also sent his only begotten son, who being born from a mortal mother was able to die but also being of God was also able to overcome the bonds of death for our behalf so that even though all of us will die, eventually all will one day overcome death.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "I do believe that there is a higher law that even God adheres to and that God chose willingly to follow the higher law just like we are given the choice whether or not to willingly follow the law."

      As a Christian for many many years I know that I would use logic and reason to conclude "There must be a God!" and I thought this made perfect sense because how could such an amazing and complex universe exist without a creator. The only problem was that as soon as I reached that conclusion it only left me with a deeper question to answer, "If God must exist because the universe is so complex, then that means God is super complex, and by the same logic I used to draw the God conclusion I now find myself needing an even more complex God to have created our God and forced our God to abide by his laws, and then that begets an even more complex and powerful God that begets another and another in an infinity loop of complexity."

      I am not saying there is no way God exists, I'm just saying you will have to find a better vehicle to reach him other than flawed logic and reason. You can't make the rules to reach God and then abandon them as soon as you get there without being a dishonest fool.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • WASP

      @KEV: "I do believe that there is a higher law that even God adheres to and that God chose willingly to follow the higher law just like we are given the choice whether or not to willingly follow the law."

      you know the cool thing right here? your sentence just debunked god being all powerful if something is more powerful than god. XD
      i'm not attacking you or anything just pointing out a logic flaw in your statement. if god isn't all powerful as he claims in the bible, then what is?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Kev

      @ Just the Facts; What I was putting out there wasn't established fact to begin with. It was simply a proclamation of belief or of faith. I certainly do not have all the answers to the complexities of God or of the universe. My beliefs or faith was something that had to be developed and worked on by myself. I believe that each of us has the choice of what to do with what we have been given in life; whether to develop what we have been given or to squander what we have been given.

      Although I don't really understand why there is such inequality in life and why such suffering is given to certain innocent individuals, while others not so innocent have the better deal in life, I also believe that this life is not the here all and end all when it comes to ones existence; just like matter and energy does not ever actually cease to exist. That there is a bigger picture out there.

      Now these are not established facts, they are simply beliefs about what is the truth in which empirical evidence cannot fully prove or disprove. Each of us through our own efforts and experiences along with free will in deciding what our opinions will be regarding God and life as well as what to do in life in regards to those opinions. For me that involves a life time of learning and experiences which involves continuous trials in life, observing the world in which I live in, study, prayer, and exercising and developing my own faith, and it is a continuous process in which the result of that faith can go either up or down.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Kev

      @ WASP; How does God following a higher law debunk the existence of God? I do believe that through God all things are possible, meaning whatever God intends on doing those goals will be accomplished. When it comes to providing the possible means for salvation for each of us, that goal was able to be accomplished through obeying the higher law.

      There is the notion that obeying a law is just a inhibiting factor, but in reality obeying that law can maintain ones freedom and ability to improve one's life. An example would be obeying a law that would prohibit doing something that would result in an addiction where at first the notion of obeying that law keeps you freely making your choices, but if that law was broken and you do become addicted your power or ability to make free choices after that can diminish.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  15. G to the T

    Either god controls the "winds and the waves" or he don't. You don't get to thank god when it doesn't rain on your wedding day AND curse satan when a tornado kills your mom.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      You don't get to thank god when it doesn't rain on your wedding day...

      Wow, AgnosticKids spoke of Christian "megalomania", I see that Atheist "megalomania" is also well in bloom. Thank you for for bringing such an example. 🙂

      July 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Mark, the G to the T's reasoning is sound. You don't present any. Why comment?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Mark claims a relation to the Divine, the creator of time space and dimension, who has promised him a shot at eternity at his side if he just acts the sycophant.

      So Mark does, yet claims OTHERS are megalomaniacs?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Peter

      Mark
      Why is it "megalomania"? Is God like some classic abusive parent/spouse, fine on many days, but liable to fly off the handle without much warning? Should those living under "his roof" just be thankful for the good days and not expect him to never lash out at them?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • G to the T

      Mark – I was speaking in response to this line from the article:
      "For those of us who believe in a Creator God, Scripture says that He does not make or perpetrate evil. He is not the author of death, but of life. In the end, he will defeat evil and death. Until then, we live in a world infected with evil. The result is tornadoes, hurricanes and, in Prescott, lightning-ignited wildfires that destroy and kill."

      This is quite contrary to the christian theologies I've studied in the past (though a common view amongst christians none-the-less). If you feel I was somehow out of line, by all means, please show me the flaw in my reasoning.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Wow, Cpt Obvious.... as an Atheist obviously his post sounds reasonable.

      The megalomania part is G2T's trying to tell another what they can and can not do. Which is what G to the T did. It is a fantasy of authority and even a fantasy of relevance.

      I am interested that you do acknowledge that there are varying Christian views on such. Most of the time, Atheist tend to lump us all in together. Your statement G2T, just echos the many in the world ...both inside and outside of the Faith of another attempting to dictate and manage another's belief.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      @G:

      I'm not sure what type of Christianity you claim to have studied but this is fro the catechism of the Catholic Church. It hardly gets more authentic than this:

      385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? "I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution", said St. Augustine,257 and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For "the mystery of lawlessness" is clarified only in the light of the "mystery of our religion".258 The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace.259 We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.260

      July 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "Either god controls the "winds and the waves" or he don't. You don't get to thank god when it doesn't rain on your wedding day AND curse satan when a tornado kills your mom."

      Why not? Christians have a diversity of beliefs, and for some this is no different than thanking Athena for one blessing and cursing Zeus for a trajedy. Certainly some are inconsistent in their beliefs, but without talking to each individual Christian, or at the very least each sect's leaders, I don't see how you can assume that every Christian interpretatin is inconsistent.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Sounds like Billy D's magic book says "we don't know the source of evil so just believe and stop looking."

      July 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Charles

      Mark from Middle River
      "The megalomania part is G2T's trying to tell another what they can and can not do."

      Isn't telling people what they can, and can not do, what Christians do?

      July 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Mark, you idiot, G to the T was making one of the most simplistic, obvious statements a critic of belief can possibly make. Sure, you Christians can be hypocrites and go against the logic G to the T presented, but then you're hypocrites who believe two different things at the same time.

      But I do apologize, Mark. You are correct. Christians can be hypocrites and eschew fundamental logic in their method of belief as they do in such cases and in many others. Thank you defending such behavior.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • G to the T

      Thanks Cpt. – funny how much division there is on the theistic side when it comes to the causes of suffering. Bart Erhman has a great book for the biblical perspective ("God's Problem") – I highly recommend it.

      The rest – I was making a statement about a particular line in the story and extrapolating based on what I've studied in the past. To asnwer a few questions that came up, I've studied most of the world religions with a focus on 500BCE to 500CE, when most of the major religions/philosophies of the modern world were developed. I have 8 different bibles in my collection (including a catholic study bible Deacon, so yes, I'm aware of the catholic theories, I just don't agree with their logic) as well as copies of the holy books of most of the world religions/philosphies.

      You may all certainly have your own opinion about why god may or may not do anything in these cases but I still believe you cannot have it both ways and be consistent. Either god causes the rain or satan does. Either god waters your flowers AND drowns puppies or he has nothing to do with either...

      July 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  16. Agnostickids

    God: "You have offended me! Here, have my son so that you can kill him so I can forgive you!"

    July 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Pretty much. I'd alter it slightly to:

      God: "Your ancestors have offended me! Here, have my son so that you can kill him so I can forgive you, who are tainted with the crimes of your forefathers!"

      July 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  17. Agnostickids

    Who would believe in a god that would punish you by killing your loved ones? THAT is NOT a loving god, a compassionate god or a god that I would want to believe in. Oh wait! I have the common sense to NOT believe in any particular god!

    Whew!!

    July 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  18. William Demuth

    Obviously if he exists and is Divine and Omniimpotent and Omnipresent then he intended to burn them all to death.

    Or perhaps God doesn't exist.

    Either way the thing you call God is unworthy of worship.

    July 9, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  19. Observer

    What a tragedy it is. How could God watch as these incredible heroes died?

    July 9, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • William Demuth

      Perhaps he was unable to stop it, but then why call him God?

      July 9, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  20. Bill Deacon

    May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

    July 9, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • William Demuth

      Perhaps the mercy might have been appropriate BEFORE he barbecued these poor gentleman at 1600 degrees?

      Or does God get his rocks off torturing people to death?

      July 9, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Agnostickids

      LOL! Like you have the authority to grant peace to people that have died. Wow, christian megalomania at its best!!!

      July 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      nowhere in that prayer do I claim such authority. My disappointment in your public education reading skills is only slightly less than my sadness that you don't recognize the prayer for eternal rest.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Peter

      Bill
      Do you know for a fact that all of them were actual believers? Lots of doubters and full-out atheists still go to church and try to appear like they still believe just to get along.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Peter, no I do not. I suppose no one knows what is in each heart except God. Nevertheless, it is a good thing to pray for the dead.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Praying for the dead?

      Perhaps making efforts for the living instead?

      You just pray for them out of fear and perhaps guilt??

      July 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You mean make an effort for the living like pray for the rest of their loved ones as opposed to calling them barbeque?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Dull Beacon

      "My disappointment in your public education reading skills is only slightly less than my sadness that you don't recognize the prayer for eternal rest."

      "Om trayambakam yajaamahe sugandhim pushtivardhanam
      Urvaarukamiva bandhanaan mrityor muksheeya maamritaat."

      אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים, הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה עַל כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וטְהוֹרִים כְּזוֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים אֶת נִשְׁמַת פלוני בן פלוני שֶׁהָלַךְ לְעוֹלָמוֹ, בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁנָדְבוּ צְדָקָה בְּעַד הַזְכָּרַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ, לָכֵן בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים יַסְתִּירֵהוּ בְּסֵתֶר כְּנָפָיו לְעוֹלָמִים, וְיִצְרֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמָתוֹ, ה' הוּא נַחֲלָתוֹ, וְיָנוּחַ בְּשָׁלוֹם עַל מִשְׁכָּבוֹ, וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן" Kel Maleh Rachamim

      All religions have prayers for the dead and the mourning. How many Hindu prayers for the dead or Jewish prayers for the dead do you know, Bill?

      I'm so disappointed that you don't recognize the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and Kel Maleh Rachamim. Your education is sorely lacking. How sad.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Reality is reality

      In context the issue was Is God Punishing Them.

      I replied yes, if he is divine and roasted them like Cornish hens then by all means he is punishing them.

      Would you prefer and lie by claiming it was an easy death, so your God might avoid accountability for his actions?

      Even if he required their deaths, he might have just as well buried them in bunnies or had them all check out while doing the wild thing.

      Alas he roasted them. Must be one of those infinite wisdom things huh?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
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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.