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. Krysten Keeton

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    August 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
  2. Steve Finnell


    Did you ever notice that secularists accept historical writings as fact, unless they are about God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    Have you ever heard a secularist proclaim that the following men did not live and that they were not who historians said they were?
    Confucius 551-479 B.C.
    Plato 427-347 B.C.
    Alexander the Great 356-323 B.C.
    Julius Caesar 100-44 B.C.
    Socrates 469-399 B.C.
    Buddha 563-483 B.C.
    Ludwig van Beethoven 1770-1827
    Homer 700-800 B.C.
    Isaac Newton 1642-1727
    Galileo Galilei 1564-1642
    Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519
    Marco Polo 1254-1324
    John Locke 1632-1704
    George Washington 1732-1799
    Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865

    Secularists do not question the historical fact, that these men lived and died. They do not deny the role these men played in history. They believe this, by faith, that the historical accounts are accurate.

    Secularists do deny the historical accuracy of the Bible and all other accounts that proclaim Jesus as the Son of God. They deny the historical accounts of God the Father resurrecting Jesus from the grave.

    THE RESULTS OF A SELECTIVE VIEW OF HISTORICAL FACTS.(2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.)


    To read more, google search: Steve Finnell a christian view or Steve Finnell blog.

    July 23, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • laststonecarver

      The Premise: SECULARISTS AND THEIR VIEW OF HISTORY – a list of dead men, of some accomplishment
      The Research: THE RESULTS OF A SELECTIVE VIEW OF HISTORICAL FACTS – and a threatening bible verse
      – maybe you should reread the 8th commandment –

      July 24, 2013 at 6:06 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Yes, Christians have faith in a "god" who cannot be proven to exist with any measurement or method at all. Stupid.
        Most intelligent nonbelievers do NOT have faith in "men" but rather in those ideas that can consistently be proven and independently verified by measurement-–NOT opinion.

        Religion is merely philosophical opinion. Science determines fact by continual measurement and remeasurement of our physical universe.

        August 18, 2013 at 12:04 am |
        • hharri


          August 18, 2013 at 12:19 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Steve, I think you are confusing your comparision here. Secularists DO question whether the characters described in Homer's stories really existed. Additionally, this is a more exteme example, because many also dispute whether Homer existed at all. Heck, many people dispute whether Shakespeare existed, and certainly don't assume all of his characters did. You seem to be a bit confused about how historical and literary research are conducted and no one is going to be able to give you this kind of introduction on an internet forum; fankly, it's something you should have picked up incollege. If you weren't able to get an liberal arts education you can get whole courses online from Harvard and MIT, or better yet sign up for a few classes at your local college. I know you don't want to believe this but you really are tremendously confused here.

      July 24, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • hharri

      Steve, these atheists are believers with emotional damage. Their rage and hatred block them from acknowledging their deep certainty that Jesus is god. They are doing their best to unload their emotional damage by commenting on this forum. One is on the verge of a spiritual breakthrough. Pray

      August 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Why are you lying? Do you like making baby jesus cry?

        August 18, 2013 at 12:01 am |
        • hharri

          Good. Nice bitterness

          August 18, 2013 at 12:09 am |
  3. Kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth is..exclusive

    July 18, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • [!]

      Are you finished now, @Kindness - now that you've spammed every single current article here with your preaching?

      Your Greed for a perfect afterlife, since this one is not enough for you is quite evident... as is your Pride that you know the only way and your Gluttony for hogging these pages.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • Smithsonian

      "Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale."

      It is a fairytale. The Bible is primarily a book of religion, a guide to faith. it was not a book of history, poetry, economics, or science. It contains all sorts of literary genre, which are used to teach about the relationship between God and mankind. Even biblical history is edited history: events were chosen to illustrate the central theme of the Bible. The Biblical writers did not pretend they were giving a complete history; instead they constantly refer us to other sources for full historical details, sources such as "The Annals of the Kings of Judah" (or Israel).

      It is therefore not possible to try to "prove" the Bible by means of checking its historical or scientific accuracy. The only "proof" to which it can be subjected is this: Does it correctly portray the God-human relationship? In the best analysis, the Bible is a religious book, not an historical document.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  4. VeryTrue

    i feel as if God doesn't want me to have a love life like he gave so many VERY LUCKY men and women that were VERY FORTUNATE to have met one another and have a family today like i would have wanted too, since i am no different than they are.

    July 17, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • laststonecarver

      If you are no different than the others, then you would be VERY LUCKY and VERY FORTUNATE –
      You ultimately are responsible fof your life, including your love life –

      July 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  5. Adam Freed

    Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness,
    I bring prosperity and create disaster;
    I, the Lord, do all these things.
    Preachers are schooled to sell a religion, not tell people the truth, they say eat you will not die
    A way that seems so right but leads to destruction the masses of blind sheep following these blind false prophet to death

    People perish for lack of knowledge, they go to religious temples(in America called churches) on appointed days of men and listen to men of eloquent speech tell them is okay to eat surely you will not die, is okay to be part of the world
    this is not the truth, it is the deception that led to the preordained man set apart from the beginning to be sentenced to death and cast out of the presence of the lord into this dark world of eternal fire to suffer generation after generation

    Have you ever thought what it would be like if the fires in the heavens here were extinguished, totally absolute dark, illumination is not light it is the radiation from those fires that destroy us generation after generation
    Light and Dark cannot exist together this is the dark world in it is not light
    The Lord came to raise the man he chose back to the garden, and the woman with him, (not the mankind made male and female in this world, they are native here, as are all the creatures, to them it is home, but not for the one man made first on the third day before the gardens of this world were planted, his place is in the garden with the lord, and he will be raised with him again if he repents, now he is many sons in many nations, bringing love of money and hate of god to all nations, the whole world, one day they will be gathered again as the one and man and will return to the garden one man one women, many parts now but one body

    Religion has it very wrong, the false prophet that bows to the serpent that deceived the woman and she gave to the man and he ate and was sentenced to death

    Repent, hate this world and love the lord, do not listen to the false prophets they will lead you to death

    Men are liars, they do not know the truth, you must be born again and reject this world and be filled with his spirit to understand scriptures, not go to some school and use a religious text falsely to sell a religion, is big money in it, don't be fooled by their slick tongues

    Feel good words and being followers of men will not bring the man back to the garden, do not eat with them

    July 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  6. EnjaySea

    Mark posed: "The question is if you also ready to throw yourself openly into doubting your Atheistic belief dogma."

    But Mark, that's exactly what atheism is: being open to any evidence, and doubting anything for which there currently is no evidence. I have sat patiently all my life (and I'm old) waiting for evidence of a god. And the very second I see that evidence, I will believe. That's the signature of an open mind. It's the way all people should approach problems.

    Speculating that something exists, when there is no evidence that it exists, then burning people at the stake for not accepting that speculation, is the signature of a closed mind.

    July 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Mentally copy and paste this response to the applicable discussion below.

      July 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Atheism :  a disbelief in the existence of deity
      b : the doctrine that there is no deity

      But Mark, that's exactly what atheism is: being open to any evidence, and doubting anything for which there currently is no evidence. I have sat patiently all my life (and I'm old) waiting for evidence of a god. And the very second I see that evidence, I will believe.

      First, trust me, I did the same thing and posted as a new thread. EnjaySea, as easliy as you would hope that someone of Faith should accept your definition of your belief... which by definition somewhere between Atheism and Agnostic... you have to be open to accept the reverse of your view and that there are folks who are continuing with their Faith until you bring them proof that God does not exist. The position that you are coming from is that the Faithful must provide you proof but at the same time the reverse would naturally be at play for someone to leave their Faith. This is the open mind approach, not where one side is not allowed the same luxery that is given to the other.

      Then burning people at the stake for not accepting that speculation, is the signature of a closed mind.

      This is the same for anytime someone disagrees with another party or group. In my years on this Blog I have be blessed to realize that all Atheist are not the same and just as within the Faiths. You have some Atheist that you can hold decent... better than some Faithful... conversations about Faith. At the same time, you have some Atheist that have even called for a return of feeding Christians to the lions or a movement towards a more Hitler response of a “Final Solution”.

      So, while you have requirements on why we should “burning people at the stake”, I would hope that in truth, you would not wish anyone burned at the stake for their Faith or non-Faith… for any reason... at all and period.

      All life is precious.


      July 13, 2013 at 2:48 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Hi Mark.

      Yes, I'll choose option a). I hold no belief in a god. To believe there is no god without proof is just as ridiculous to me as believing there is one, without proof. And that's why I say that I have no doctrine, unless it's the doctrine of "waiting for evidence". You can call it atheism, or "weak atheism", or agnosticism. Doesn't matter what it's called. Whatever way you slice it, it's faithlessness.

      I'm not sure what you meant about the burning at the stake comment. I'm not militant about my "waiting for evidence" stance. I'm just waiting. I'm not going to hold anyone in disregard because they are not also waiting along with me.

      I would, however, wish to continue posting my ideas, if only to provide an alternate viewpoint for those who are still seeking, so someone maybe can skip the years of wasted "pretend faith" that I had to go through because I thought I had to, until I finally realized there was the option of abandoning it all and starting from scratch.

      July 14, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      then burning people at the stake for not accepting that speculation, ...July 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      The meaning is that in present day, the “burning people at the stake”, is mostly just people being over confrontational over their views. It could be gender or it could even be racial or a host of differing views. The closed mindedness of your statement was that I felt that most people would not wish to see anyone castigated over their views on non-Faith and also Faith.

      And that's why I say that I have no doctrine,
      It comes down to the fact that your stance is a generally held Atheist view. In the end saying that, “there is no God” is no different than a Muslim stating, Allah is the one true God and Mohammad is his messenger”. Both are declarative as a held principle by large chunks of society. Stating that your “faithlessness” is some how unique to you is respectfully not understandable It is the person declaring that what he or she believes to be true is true. It is as if a klan member declared: “I hate African Americans”, but declaring that it is not a previously held doctrine of White Supremacy.

      Doctrine: a : something that is taught b : a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief : dogma

      The question is, the waiting part. If you choose to not believe is a God … then how can you wait for proof of something that you already hold does not exist? It continues to sound more Agnostic than Atheist.

      I would, however, wish to continue posting my ideas, if only to provide an alternate viewpoint
      That is cool and honorable EnjaySea, but I have been around this blog for a few years now and I do not see too many who come here who do not have their views already etched into stone. In someways, I post here because words such as tolerance and coexistence were taught to me and I just feel that there is another way. Another way, that is different than the path of the extremist.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:09 am |
      • EnjaySea

        Mark, I don't "hold that god does not exist". I hold that there has not been any proof presented that a god does exist. Those are two very different things. You can call my "stance" a doctine if you like. I suppose I hold a scientific doctrine. That proof leads to truth.

        I do not hold a believe that a god does not exist.

        And I do not hold a believe that god does exist.

        Because no proof has been presented to support either view.

        July 15, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  7. tony

    Of curse. If god parted the red sea for Moses, then he must be the controller of all other physical/geological effects on Earth, or he wouldn't be god.

    So looks like he either disliked, didn't care, didn't want or didn't notice the poor firefighters. Nor any of the other humans caught up in life threatening situations.

    July 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • lol??

      You can be a chosen, too. Experience the fire.

      July 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      You forgot the other possibility: "or there is no god".

      July 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • A kind non-believer

      Psst...someone might have lost a loved one in that fire..this is the part where we offer condolences without further comment. Or, atleast it used to be.

      July 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  8. laststonecarver

    – Perception of the Environment –
    A wildfire can be perceived, as a beast –
    A living creature, that seemingly appears out of nothing –
    That creature has One life goal, to consume anything to sustain its life –
    To destroy that beast, brave folk give effort to negate that which the beast can consume –
    They give effort to defend those, who cannot defend themselves –
    They give effort, because it is an adrenaline rush –
    The brave folk, make a decision to follow that path, in life –
    They make that decision, because of how they perceive their environment –
    Their environment which creates them –
    The brave folk knew the risk, and they lived for that rush –
    They followed the beast to destroy it, but it destroyed them –

    No god punished them – No god saved them –
    Brave folk fought a fire beast, and lost –

    July 12, 2013 at 6:21 am |
    • lol??

      ".......................................Their environment which creates them..........................."??

      July 12, 2013 at 6:37 am |
    • laststonecarver

      Yes, even as your environment creates you –
      Do you suppose, that you would be lol??, if say your environment was in a small desert town, in Somalia?
      Do you suppose that if you lived in Kiev,that you may think radically different, than you do at this time?
      Yes surely your environment creates you, and you will change as you consume, both physically and mentally –

      July 12, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • laststonecarver

      What do you consume mentally, that makes you lol??
      Is it the truths? –
      Is it the lies?
      Is your mind only the past, or is there also a future to it? –
      Do you understand how your environment creates your mind?
      Do you think about what you think, and why?
      Do you want to play, like for old times sake?
      Like one more game of kick the can?

      July 12, 2013 at 7:21 am |
  9. EnjaySea

    "Is God punishing us? Why would God let this happen?", and other similar questions are the first healthy step towards doubt. And doubt is something that all believers should cultivate. Without doubt, how can you be free of the dogma, and be ready to embrace critical thought?

    July 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      And doubt is something that all believers should cultivate.

      The question is if you also ready to throw yourself openly into doubting your Atheistic belief dogma. I will ask the same thing of you that I asked below. If a person comes to your with a doubt in his or her Faith and chooses to continue with Faith, are you ok with that outcome.

      Basically, the question was present....the person had the choice to continue with his or her Faith or to leave the Faith. The choice was made to continue her or his Faith and not converting to Atheism. Since the person questioned but choose not to follow your path can you accept that a healthy internal debate occurred but just did not have the desired outcome you hoped? Or is the only acceptable outcome of doubt the turning away?

      July 12, 2013 at 3:20 am |
    • Damocles


      I would be fine with that outcome. A person can choose to believe whatever they want despite evidence to the contrary. If a person comes to me with a question of what they believe, and it has happened, then I have no problem engaging them in conversation. The bottom line for me is not the belief, it's what is done with that belief. If you want to believe that some happy place awaits you when you die, have at it. It's when people condemn others and rant and rave about hell and doom and gloom that sends an itch up my spine.

      Religious belief should be between two things, the person and the thing it wants to worship.

      July 12, 2013 at 6:08 am |
    • Bill Deacon


      All good up until the point you start defining what the parameters of other people behavior out to be. Then you become what you are protesting, a person who thinks they know how other people ought to live.

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

      Bill, please quote the sentence where Damocles does that. Thanks.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Mark, what is "atheistic belief dogma?" I'm an atheist and don't know what that is. Thanks.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Damocles


      I, too, am curious as to what parameters I laid out.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • pattysboi

      No, God is NOT "punishing" the deceased and their families, no matter what the westboro nuts and other fundies think.

      July 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  10. lee

    “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?”

    Reason number 127,354 religion is awful: It makes otherwise reasonable people place blame on themselves or their loved ones for no reason. Fighting fire is a dangerous job, and it takes a hero to do it. This incident is a result of a calculated risk taken to help others which turned out tragically. I feel so bad for these victims who are inflicted with further suffering through the cognitive dissonance caused by believing in an all-loving all-powerful deity.

    Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither willing nor able? Then why call him God? – Epicurus

    July 11, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • JimK57

      I prefer to look at it this way.

      If a child is pushed down by another child and cuts his knee, is the parent evil for allowing their child to be pushed down? No, as a parent your child has free will and these little things will happen.

      July 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Woof

      The child has free will to be pushed down? Really? Talk about blaming the victim!

      July 12, 2013 at 3:42 am |
    • sam stone

      jim: how is free will consistent with an omniscient god?

      July 12, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • JimK57

      God does not cause things to happen and he does not prevent things from happening.

      July 12, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • sam stone

      gee, jim, nifty way to dodge the question.

      pehaps a more straightforward question. if i apparently have a choice between two actions, we call A and B, and god (being omniscient and never wrong) knows i am going to choose B, what are the chances I will choose A? Hint: It is zero

      July 12, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • JimK57

      I agree zero. It is your choice not his.

      July 12, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • sam stone

      another dodge of the question.

      if god is omniscient, there is no free will

      July 12, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • JimK57

      omniscient: To know all that can be known.
      Maybe we disagree on "can be known". Can god see reactions to your actions that you cannot? yes.

      My original comment was for Lee "Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?"
      Evil and good are words created by man. There is no punishment for anyones actions.

      July 12, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • sam stone

      fair enough.

      is god able to the future?

      July 12, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • JimK57

      See the future? I have no idea. I turn that one around in my head quite alot. Sometimes when I read about quantum phsyics it seems possible, other times not so much.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      How would an eternal being conceive "the future"? Some meta physicists say that, for God, all time is the present.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Parent/child = god/human a.n.alogies always start off with the wrong assumption: The parent did not "create" all the conditions in which both live. The parent is subject to the same laws of physics as the child and neither have any say so in the matter. The parent does not make the rules that say "when soft flesh meets hardened concrete....", but supposedly god did make all the rules. God "allowing" a person to choose hell is like a parent "allowing" a child to drink cyanide.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      if it is just the present to god, how does that jibe with religious doctrine? where is the choice?

      July 12, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • sam stone

      jim: if god could see what (we percieve as) the future, does that not defeat the notion of free will?

      July 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • JimK57

      Can god see the future? I do not know.
      There is no hell. Hell was invented by man for his own purpose.

      July 12, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
      • lee

        "Hell was invented by man for his own purposes." I couldn't agree more. However I would like to know how you came to that conclusion with one mythical realm and not all the others. Or for any mythical beings you apparently believe exist.

        July 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  11. Rundvelt

    More double think from Christians here...

    > 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.

    From scripture, the only conclusion you can reach is that God made the rules of the universe, including concepts of good and evil. Life and death. And it was God, who made the first humans and the serpent knowing that they would fail his test.

    God is to blame for evil in the exact same way that I'd be responisible for a knife breaking if I built it to break. Entirely.

    God created everything, God knows the results of those actions and God's will is always done. Therefore, got created sin.

    It's silly to argue that the all knowing creator of everything isn't aware or responsible for the creation of something.

    July 11, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      From scripture, the only conclusion you can reach is .....

      From that point on you have totally concluded that all Christians interpret the text the exact same way. That small opening is how the Rev Terry's and the Pat Robertson's of the Christian community open most of their statements.

      Basically, that we can only agree with the speakers interpretation of the Scripture.

      July 12, 2013 at 3:25 am |
    • Woof

      What kind of lame god would write a book that none of the people trying to follow it can agree upon?

      July 12, 2013 at 3:40 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Diversity 🙂

      July 12, 2013 at 4:17 am |
  12. Mark from Middle River

    I will accept it for myself, so what awaits me?

    Then you will burn until Steven Segal gets an Oscar. Is that a good response? 🙂

    Come on Deep, what are you expecting? A bunch of 700 Club radical Christians to post and post about what they feel will happen to you? I am not doubting that there are Christians who will with much fanfare and joy and sadly hope, that you will be cast away from God. These are the same that believe that every Jew and Muslim, will be right beside you in that great Coleman Grill of Hades. So, by your own assertions, you could be a Jew or a follower of Islam as well as an Atheist.

    So, I can offer the same statements when my some of my fellow Christians are asked if Jews and Muslims will be in Heaven, if they do not accept Christ. I do not know. If holding on to a Muslim, Jewish, Atheist or any other belief system, is working for you here during your time here on Earth, then I do wish you well and if God or Gods choose to throw you or if it is a Muslim view of the Afterlife, me out of Heaven, then we will know that it is the choices we made in life.

    Also, if your real question is if good Atheist get to go to Heaven, I say yes. I think God will just make it a perfect Atheist Heaven.... and yall will just lay in your caskets in darkness ..happy knowing that according to your deepest desires nothing came after this life. 🙂

    July 11, 2013 at 2:28 am |
    • lol??

      HHhhhmmmm, leader of the mob?? Now yer goin' after the bride?? Pwogwessives are never satisfied.

      Pro 27:20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

      July 11, 2013 at 3:49 am |
    • lol??

      That was for air pumper and her cute little hook.

      July 11, 2013 at 4:29 am |
    • Jefe El Guapo

      Mark, I have to disagree with everything you stated. None of it is the truth. The bible is a collection of fabricated mythologies. Why would anyone accept the "christ" when the bible in fact states that there are other gods to choose from? This isn't a misprint. It's in nearly every translation in existence. Have you ever actually read a bible? I've found that people that defend it the most haven't actually read it. They just regurgitate what they've been told by their pastors, or they've on occasion cherry picked some scripture to read out of a concordance to validate some heap argument about something. The problem with this is that you miss all of the contradictions. You miss out on all of the negativity all of these fictional writings are about.

      The hebrew god was a war god, and it was angry at all of the other gods. Exodus 12:12 is an exerpt of the alleged almighty talking about how it will attack babies punish all of the other gods of Egypt. Pardon? Other gods? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. I'm sorry. It was a humorous read. That's right, by its own admission, there was never just one little old god prancing in theclouds. Before you respond, you might want to check the original Hebrew to English translation. Not to ruin the fun, but the direct translation does in fact state what I've said.

      Wait, isn't the one god thing the foundation of the abraham cult? It sure is! You know what's funny about that scripture? It was always watered down any time I heard the story. The threat of the punishment of the gods of Egypt was always left out in church. Well heck! I wonder why! That one scripture alone completely breaks christianity. Naturally, you'l try to justify or validate it in some way. Pretend it means something else. Ignore it. Claim that it means something completely different than what the words on the page say. You know, lie. That's what it's all about. Lying and bending it all to meet your personal wishes. You know it can't be true, but you want so desperately for it to be true that you'll make any excuse that you can muster.

      There is so much evidence against this collection of poorly written texts, to include itself being evidence of its own MANY shortcomings that it cannot possibly be reality in any dimension. A bible apologist isn't just somone that speaks in defense of it. It's on a whole new level here. A bible apologist apologizes for all of the lies and makes horrific attempts at ignoring the fact that the entire thing is fiction short of a couple of historic events that were embelished by the fake hand of the war god. Mind you, the war god was made up out of necessity from oppression. "Our god will avenge us!" That was the entire reason for its existence.

      You've been poking around here for some time, offering explanations for the lies, but it isn't working. It never will. No matter how true you want your words to be, they will never be true. They will always be empty and hopeless. You make promises to children that after they're buried, they'll get that candy bar. "No no little Jimmy, you have to wait until you're six feet under, and then you get to go to Disneyland!"

      Mark, you REALLY need to grow up and take responsibility for your own actions. No one died for your biblical law breaking. Sin does not exist. Only the laws of man.

      July 11, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • james

      jeffe; I do not think I have seen so many accurate and inaccurate statements in one post ever. (please, just a comment) but really if you want to share a discussion with someone who has read the Bible multiple times and translations ( and versions) different from actual translations, then we can have some fun and maybe both learn something but where to start? I think first of all if you have read the collection of books then you would have to admit it is amazing how so much (knowledge, history, prophecy, poetry, science, medicine, geology, mathematics, and on and on) could be collected and continue in the face of persecution and outright hatred for so long. Yes, so many have tried to destroy these little books that I was drawn to read them just to see what all that was about and I have found that this is great literature at the very least and I believe The Word of God almighty at our fingertips and I welcome your questions (if sincere), and will discuss with you anything about and within those pages but if not serious then why attack someone like Mark for what they believe?

      July 11, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Rundvelt

      > I think first of all if you have read the collection of books then you would have to admit it is amazing how so much (knowledge, history, prophecy, poetry, science, medicine, geology, mathematics, and on and on) could be collected and continue in the face of persecution and outright hatred for so long.

      I'm not sure what you're saying here. The Bible does contain lots of information. Some of it good, some of it nonsense. I think you overall remember the good stuff and forget the nonsense. Here's a few things to remind you of the utterly silly things the bible suggests...

      If your wife is cheating, mix holy water and dirt from the floor. If she gets sick, she's a cheatin! Numbers 5:11-28
      You can cure leprosy with bird blood. But you have to kill them in a certain order! Leviticus 14:3-7

      Obviously good information will be retained while bad information weeded out. But remnants like this show that the bible was in fact a book filled with the writings of primitive men.

      > Yes, so many have tried to destroy these little books that I was drawn to read them just to see what all that was about and I have found that this is great literature at the very least and I believe The Word of God almighty at our fingertips

      How do you know this is the word of the almighty? The Quran has far more revelations (mainly because it's a later book) that put the bible to shame in the field of medicine, math and other subjects. Is that book more Godly then the bible?

      > I welcome your questions (if sincere), and will discuss with you anything about and within those pages but if not serious then why attack someone like Mark for what they believe?

      Mark's not being attacked, he's being replied to. Mark forwarded an idea, and if anyone is to quesiton it, are they attacking him? Just like how I'm pointing out the issues in your post.

      I do have a question for you however. In the beginning, there was only God. God is all powerful and all knowing.

      There are claims of prophecy in the bible. But yet the bible claims we have free will. How can free will exist with a predetermined result?

      July 11, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Jefe El Guapo

      James, you have already lost the debate. You believe in it. Prophecies? Such as the one where jesus tells his contemporaries that he'll return before they die?

      Or perhaps the one about the messiah's coming? Maybe you should read this:


      Which version of the bible do you read? Hopefully it's one prior to the King James translation. After all, when that bible was created, a lot was added to it. Then, around the 1800's, a number of books were removed. The catholic church kept those books, but most of the other Abraham cults didn't bother with them.

      I disagree with you about the history in the bible. Not all of it can be confirmed. Especially the scientific evidence against some of it such as the alleged worldwide flood. The bible doesn't have much to do with math. We can thank the Arabic people for algebra, but the bible had nothing to do with it. Science and medicine? Are you kidding me? The bible is the opposite of these things. It discourages knowledge. Did not the war god of Abraham tell Adam and Eve to stay away from that fruit?

      You cannot deny that the war god of the Hebrews states that it will punish the other gods. This is in multiple translations to include the direct Hebrew to English translation. Again, it squashes christianity with that verse alone.

      But if you want to go further, the bible promises that anything you ask for you will receive. When was the last time you saw a prayer answered? In my reading, I didn't find a disclaimer. "Ask anything and ye shall receive it! *Disclaimer – Unless it isn't god's will, or if he's on vacation, on the phone or on the toilet." Nope, no disclaimer. The christian faith promises you everything but gives you nothing. If someone loses a leg and they pray for it to grow back, according to the bible that leg WILL grow back. Ever see that happen? Not once. Never. The bible lies.

      The bible is NOT the word of god. This is a known fact. If a deity existed that could create an entire Universe with the snap of his fingers or with a word, you'd think he could have gotten a little book right. Maybe he could have hired a decent editor? Or perhaps ensured that it wasn't riddled with mistakes, contradictions and lies. You'd also think he wouldn't have multiple personality disorder. In the first half, he's a really angry war god and angry with other gods and he REALLY hates babies so he kills them. Then in the second half, he's more mature and refined. The bible is like the plot of a really bad Adam Sandler movie. Really immature. Then he grows up. But at the end, you know he's really going to screw it all up by going back to his evil ways. Which he does by starting the war to end all wars and riding his horse knee-deep in blood. Yeah, real loving character that god is. But, he is a war god. I think I'd rather worship an Egyptian god, but I'm not sure which to choose from, or if the war god of Abraham is still punishing them. Are they available at this time?

      When I read non-fiction, I like to know who the author is. It makes the story easier to verify. How about that gospel? Do you have any idea who the authors were? The most learned biblical scholars don't know. This means that the stories can't be verified. It should also be noted that scripture was added to the gospel to make it more appealing later on.

      I'm amazed that anyone of any level of reason could believe in a god that doesn't understand or follow the laws of science. Check out the creation myths (more than one, and they differ) for reference. Not to be outdone, the entire Universe along with all life is created in a very short period of time, yet everything in the Universe predates creation. It does not match.

      You see, no one has to try to destroy those little books. All one has to do is look at them and see that they destroy themselves. The bible references scripture from other books.... that aren't in the bible. Wunderbar!

      Here's some light reading:



      The war god is a liar. Read up on the ten commandments where it tells Moses after the tablets are broken, "I'll write down the same commandments for you again." As you'll see, he wrote down a different set of moronic commandments.

      http:/ /disinfo.com/2010/02/the-ten-commandments-we-always-see-arent-the-ten-commandments/

      As for my reply to the apologist dolt above, get over it. He's the kind of person that thinks he's a biblical scholar and tries poorly to justify anything and everything wrong with the bible. It is pointless. We KNOW that the bible is a disgusting mess. We have our own copies. We've read it dozens of times. We've studied it. We know far more about it than the majority of christians. Yet people like Mark continue to pretend that we have zero knowledge about the antics of the imaginary kid on the playground above because we aren't reading it with the "holy spirit" in our hearts. Please. if that were the case then no one would ever convert to christianity to begin with.

      You can't debate with someone that spent multiple decades in the church, that used to be a hardcore believer. You can't debate with someone that has spent countless months combing through and studying scripture. You can't debate with someone that read the bible thoroughly as a believer and then became an atheist because of it. You will not make any progress. You will never be able to redeem the injustices written in the bible or the atrocities that are a result of it. IF a god exists, because of the bible, I am 100% certain that neither the Hebrew war god or jesus have anything to do with it. The bible has proven itself to be a work of fiction with a few historical facts peppered into it.

      Want to read a convincing conspiracy theory? They work best with a whole lot of fiction (unbelievable but remotely possible stories that are near-impossible to verify) with a few historical facts peppered into it. And there you have the bible.

      Debate over.

      July 11, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • laststonecarver

      You seem familiar amigo –
      Is debate over a clue? –

      July 11, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Mark, I have to disagree with everything you stated. 

      Everything? I was stating my belief of if a person who does not accept Christ will go go to Heaven. You went on a rant on the subject of basic Faith. Whether you are a person of Faith or a Atheist, you are just rehashing a conflict that has gone on forever. I know some of you are no different than the Taliban and feel that Faith must be attacked at every encounter but to say you disagree with everything I stated does not address Deep's question. Maybe, you should ask Deep why he or she asked the question.

      The question was if Deep would get into Heaven, if he or she didn't accept Jesus. 🙂

      Have you ever actually read a Bible?

      Yes, I have.

       The problem with this is that you miss all of the contradictions. You miss out on all of the negativity...

      Since, I have read the Bible, then I have considered it. Does questioning the Bible automatically conclude with a turning from Faith? I have ran into a few Muslims that declare if I only read the Koran I will not help but convert to Islam. It is just another occasion when the extremes meet eventually. The question was if Deep would get into Heaven, if she or he didn't accept Jesus. 🙂

      Jefe, I understand that you are a Atheist but my post was addressing a question that really had nothing to do with if you or I have Faith or not. Deep was asking the question of a Christian's interpretation of the text, not the simple or complex question of why someone has Faith. I know that the varying interpretations of the Scripture either confuses you or down right scares you to death. For some Atheist a dream response I would have posted that the God …. How did BlackAdder, an Atheist, say... “The same God that ki'lled Cain and squashed Sampson” will cast you into eternal suffering. That is not for me to answer so I just do not know.

      The basics are that I am a Christian but, I am open to being unsure if Heaven will only be for those who are Christians. If that worries you and you are more comfortable with a Pat Robertson 700 Club Christian, then sorry kid... all you have is me and I am not ready to declare who is and who is not going to Heaven. I will leave such comments to the Westburo Baptist Churches of the world. If you want to debate if there is a Heaven or a God or Gods, that might really be for another thread or article. I feel though, I have answered Deep's que'ry to how Mark from Middle River views entry into Heaven of someone who has not accepted Christ.

      You are feel free to ask the question that has been debated here for years and throughout history of is there a God or not. Chances are you will not accept any answers of yes from someone who is Faithful. Same odds that a Faithful will not accept any answer of that there is not a God. Unless, you feel that you alone hold the clever comment or post that no one in history has ever thought of. Basically, that you have that knock out punch that all the great Atheist such as Hitchens never had in their ar'senal. That is the great thing about a blog like this, you see the most steadfast and unmovable people questioning why everyone else will not bend a inch.

      No, I do not think you as a bit wiser or smarter than those Atheist that came before you.

      What you can work towards though is continued conversation and movement more towards tolerance. I know, for you on the extremes, it is a nasty word. Ones such as the late Bin Laden, Pat Robertson and Rev Terry of the Westburo Baptist...and you as well, live more in fear of people coming together while still holding their views and beliefs. I do not know if Deep asked his question for hopes of a member of Westburo Baptist would come along or if he or she actually wanted to know what Christians really thought of if they could see them in Heaven. I have no clue but the opening of peace is to see if he or she who is supposed to be really your enemy....really is your enemy.

      Oh well. Like I said, I feel my post answered Deep's inquiries into how a Christian might think of him or her. Basically, you disagree with my having Faith, and that's cool. I will not lose that much sleep over it.

      July 12, 2013 at 3:06 am |
    • Ummmm

      "That is the great thing about a blog like this, you see the most steadfast and unmovable people questioning why everyone else will not bend a inch."

      That includes you.

      July 12, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • james

      well I am back and I must say I am amazed at the amount of time spent on one comment which basically says "debate over". but there was no debate. I was just agreeing with Mark and of course I see he did not need my help but I love people who can express themselves in defense of what they believe and I just thought that was what he was doing. as far as jeffe goes, I usually do not respond to insincere posts except he seemed to really believe what he was saying and I am just so sorry he has been so misled and disgruntled by hypocritical religions who have done more to drive people away from sincere questioners of our creator and this publication we have to help us understand what he would have us do to help us lead productive lives in line with his will. As far as the few verses critiqued here they were laws given to a nation to separate them from the filthy pagan nations that would destroy them if not for the protection that their God offered but in the end they did not want his offer and rejected The One he sent to fulfill that law. After that one came laws were given to help us to continue to understand what would help us to get the rest of the way and really come to know this God and what his will is for us. Again people have the choice to make and we have every right to reject Him and his laws and the blessing of eternal life or the end of eternal death. I would include scriptures to back up my words but Mark knows them, others may want to ask if sincere. that is about all I have for the "debaters", that will be won by The One who has the right and the only problem I have with Mark is the referring to the one man as reverend and I am sure that was just a misprint. So I have to go again but will check back to see if anyone wants verses to support my statements but the rest can just continue to "debate" with Mark or others but I thank you for the discussion and again if anyone wants to know what the Bible really teaches let me (or Mark) know and I am sure they will enjoy that discussion. peace, j

      July 12, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • james

      to um? many have changed their beliefs from one way to the other and back and I am included in that group so I know you probably were not typing to me but it came up when I came back so if you have something to offer let me know because I Am open to discussion, thanks. j

      July 12, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      That includes you.

      Can't argue against that. What has changed though is my opinion that every Atheist is the same. One of the biggest lessons that I have learned is that there are moderate as well as radical Atheist.

      July 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Mark, you have stated elsewhere that there is an atheist dogma that atheists should doubt. Could you explain what the atheist dogma is and why it should be doubted? Thanks.

      July 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Dogma : something held as an established opinion; especially : a definite authoritative tenet

      Tenet: a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially : one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession

      Doctrine : a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief : dogma

      Atheism has its very own dogma because they are holding to the belief that there is not a God as strong as those of Faith are holding that there is a God. In the end, Atheism and theism are established opinions with the members of both groups holding without doubt their positions.

      The post you are mentioning was a response to EnjaySea, which I see he has responded to above. I do not really care if folks open themselves to doubt or not. I would tend to prefer to share company with those that are steadfast in their views, because you know where they stand. The question was if he was suggesting that the Faithful open up their Faith to doubt would he be willing to open up to his Atheist views and open the door that God could really exist.

      So the challenge was just to Enjay, at that time. 🙂


      July 13, 2013 at 1:37 am |
    • tallulah13

      In the end Mark, no matter how you spin it, logic dictates that you should not believe in something for which there is no verifiable proof. It's not dogma. It's common sense.

      July 13, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      In the end Mark, no matter how you spin it, logic dictates that you should not believe in something for which there is no verifiable proof. It's not dogma. It's common sense.

      Hi Tallulah. It has been a while. 🙂

      That is maybe why it is called Faith. There have been many instances, throughout known history, that just can not be explained and it has out best thinkers still wondering why and how. In the mist of those miracles or unknown incidents, we have those within Faith declaring ….. it was God or Gods. At the same time we have those not of Faith declaring that it can be anything but God.

      While I am quoting Websters, I will offer you this.

      Common Sense : sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts

      Common Sense is not exclusive to one side or another. It only those on the opposing viewpoints who disagree with what is “sound and prudent”. Basically, if we disagree on a subject, both of us are claiming that the other is holding a view opposed to “Common Sense”.

      So, respectfully.... dogma exist with both the Faithful and those not of Faith.


      July 13, 2013 at 3:05 am |
  13. breathe deep

    I'm hoping to get an honest Christian response for this question...

    Let me ask what punishment I can accept to receive if I do not allow jesus to make that sacrifice in my place? Meaning, Christ did not die on the cross for me because I refuse to let somebody else take my punishment for me. I will accept it for myself, so what awaits me?

    July 11, 2013 at 1:51 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Whoops.... thought I hit reply. My bad. 🙂

      July 11, 2013 at 2:30 am |
    • Dippy

      Do you know the difference between expect and accept? I'm guessing that you don't.

      July 11, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      You'll be paid your due wages

      July 11, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • james

      breathe deep, if you check back I would love to share some scriptures with you that explain a hope for you that will surprise you but will not include eternal burning and I understand what the religions of this world have done to mislead and disturb people like you. The God that created this earth and gives us the promises meant for us is not cruel. j

      July 12, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • The Truth

      Jesus the Way to the Father

      5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

      6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know [a] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14: 5-7

      "14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:14-15

      July 13, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • james

      the lake of fire is "the second death" from which no resurrection is possible "Death" not eternal burning as if conscious of anything for Ecclesiastes 9:5-10 and others tells us when you "die" you are conscious of Nothing. You do not have any knowledge, wisdom or wages or remembrance where we are going and forever if we do not live according to the commands at Matt. 22:36-40.(and other places) Gehenna describes the end of all who have had their last chance at eternal life (after the first and second resurrection) into which also has "death and Hades thrown into it. Now how does "death and Hades" feel anything along with all else with it. Why not look into learning what the Bible really teaches and find out how to please our Heavenly Father and gain that eternal Life where "there will be no more mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. These things will have passed away" from Rev.21:4 Keep seeking and asking and knocking and it will be opened to you. Matt.7:7,8, peace to all, j

      July 13, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  14. breathe deep

    Let me ask what punishment I can accept to receive if I do not allow jesus to make that sacrifice in my place? Meaning, Christ did not die on the cross for me because I refuse to let somebody else take my punishment for me. I will accept it for myself, so what awaits me?

    July 11, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk

      Not to worry. Just sacrifice a goat on your back yard altar.
      If that doesn't work, your firstborn will suffice.

      July 11, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Nil awaits you and everyone. No you.

      July 11, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Dippy

      Do you know the difference between expect and accept? I'm guessing that you don't.

      July 11, 2013 at 3:04 am |
    • Rundvelt

      > Let me ask what punishment I can accept to receive if I do not allow jesus to make that sacrifice in my place? Meaning, Christ did not die on the cross for me because I refuse to let somebody else take my punishment for me. I will accept it for myself, so what awaits me?

      How can God logically punish you for being who God created you to be? It'd be like me trying to punish a child for thinking there's a santa claus when I told him repeatedly that there is a santa claus.

      July 11, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  15. Yes

    Yes She is.

    July 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
  16. Jerry

    This is very sad yet it is nothing knew. Tragedies and natural disasters have been around since the dawn of creation. We mourn for those who have fallen, and our hearts go out to their families. We thank Elohim (God) for the gift of life which He gives, which He of course can also take away. He is the author of life, and He Himself is life. Yeshua said: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" John 14 Job, who lost almost everything while in the midst of great physical suffering said "The Lord gave and the Lord has takes away, blessed be the Name of the Lord". Job 1:21

    July 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Rory

      Thanks for sharing your opinion, and don't be offended when I tell you that I don't share it. If I created beings as intelligent as humans I don't believe that I would have the right to exterminate them. If what you say is true, then I question the morality of your God.

      July 11, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  17. realbuckyball

    The problem is not 19 firefighters in the rich, spoiled US.
    The problem is the millions of children this so-called "loving" deity so impotently allows to suffer and die.


    July 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  18. Bob Hartley

    I don't understand how an all powerful, all knowing being is let off the hook. When something good happens, the clergy loves to trot out the old "God has blessed us" line. When something tragic happens, the clergy trots out the old "it's not God. It's evil" rationalization. You can't have it both ways. Either God exists and he/she/it allows tragic events to occur or he/she/it doesn't exist. I guess they have to make rationalizations in order to ignore the fact that, when logic is applied, it is highly unlikely that there is an all knowing, all powerful being.

    July 10, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Critics propose that moral relativism fails because it rejects basic premises of discussions on morality, or because it cannot arbitrate disagreement.

      In other words, you may not recognize a tragedy when you see it.

      July 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bill Deacon

      Moral relativism is no more than consensus, and is well short of unanimous.

      July 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Motorpickle

      An easy way to understand it: is God responsible if someone rejects him? No, because they decided that for themselves. But if someone accepts God and he blesses them after with more understanding... then he did that. God does whatever he wants, so do people.

      July 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Just a thought

      Maybe coz if there was one you wouldn't want to make him mad

      July 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      God is just like us. Wants all the glory, none of the responsibility. Since we're like god and god is like us, worship the wino in the park. It'll get you the same result.

      July 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      It should be clear to people that if there is a so called 'god' he is powerless. OR if he is all powerful he is an a$$.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I agree he would be either not all powerfull or an ass. I think there could be relative levels of power, however, as we see in the Greek and Indian pantheons.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • lol??

      Jesus already had His trial. What else do ya want??

      July 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • coconut

      Some people set up trains on tracks and build the bridges, houses, and trees around the tracks, then watch the train go round and round the same way all day long. I couldn't do that. I would rather have no tracks, and drive around freely, but within the limits and in a good environment. Driving in Death Valley... no thanks. The less constrained type is I think, more interesting, it's different. So I can understand God watching what people will do when within some limits, in a good environment, but free to operate and change it, with laws he set for us to live by. Watching completely programmed robots and forcing everything they do would be boring so I think that's why he set it up as he did, then kicks back and watches most of the time.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • JimK57

      Or maybe what we consider terrible is really not that big of a deal. If there is life after this then death really has no meaning.

      July 10, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Rory

      If there is life after this then this life really has no meaning, correct?

      July 11, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  19. inphyniti@gmail.com

    Sometimes, bad things happen to good people whether incidently or as part of God's plan. If you are religious, this has nothing to do with being "punished" – hell is where the wicked are punished by God. Whether or not you are religious the need to believe in something like this (god is punishing us or fate is punishing us) is the psychological need to have control over the uncontrollable. Learn more about the grieving process and work with grief counsellors and, if you are religious, with both grief counsellors and your local church, to get through this horrific tragedy. It will take time, but you WILL get through this loss. It might be a nice community gesture to get community officials to plant a tree in a local park dedicated to the firefighters who lost their lives.

    July 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Reality

      God's plan???? Give us a break !!

      Was it your god's plan for the following?

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

      1. 300,000,000 approx.

      2. 200,000,000 ?

      3. 100,000,000 approx.
      Black Death

      4. 80,000,000–250,000,000

      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

      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 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Rory

      If believing in Jesus is the only way into Heaven, and if you don't make it there then you go to Hell, what is so "wicked" about not believing in Jesus? There are billions of people of other faiths who, like Christians, are only members of their religions because that's what their parents taught them to be. Where's the Justice in punishing people for something they didn't really have responsibility for?

      July 11, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • lol??

      Sheesh reality, can't handle your own insignificance?? You'll have your chance to make your case.

      July 11, 2013 at 4:11 am |
    • Reality

      Some 21st century nitty-gritty:

      The Apostles' Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

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

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

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

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

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

      (References used are available upon request.)

      July 11, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • EnjaySea

      @lol?? said "Sheesh reality, can't handle your own insignificance??"

      Only one question mark is required. The second question mark is not only redundant, but also adds no valuable context to your message, nor does it enhance, nor does it emphasize your comment.

      Perhaps you might look into using the bold tag, or the italics tag, to further emphasize portions of your message.

      While you're at it, feel free to look into perhaps being more polite as well. Angering people does only that. Being civil with people causes them to actually read your point, and perhaps think about it.

      Have a nice day.

      July 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  20. Rev. Rick

    @ Hmmmmmmm said, "So the Bible is whatever you want it to be. It's your imagination. Yup, you got that right."

    Well, Hmmmmmm, in a sense you are quite right. The problems is, religions, and more specifically, the denominations of some religions *tell* us how the Bible should be interpreted, and there can be no equivocations. Believe it their way, or suffer the consequences. I think much of humanity is rethinking this whole concept of *fixed* interpretation. Some, including me, don't believe that any particular denomination, nor any particular religion for that matter, has the full truth. This makes a lot of religions, especially fundamentalist religions, very uncomfortable! Earlier you accused Christians of being weaselly (?) It's unfortunate that you believe that because "Christianity" is so diverse that if you lump them all into a group of people who all believe exactly the same thing, or believe in the same identical theology, you have missed the mark entirely. By your comments, I suspect that you must be an atheist, or at minimum an agnostic, but in my experience there are many kinds of atheists – some are open to discussion regarding theology and the existence of God, others atheists.....not so much.

    @ Richard Cranium and @ Capt. Obvious - Thanks for your supportive comments. I am an ordained minister, but I do not claim to have all the answers and I am sus.picious of those who do make such a claim, but I am a seeker. Is the Bible mythical? Perhaps? Is it metaphysical? Probably. I find it much more productive to study a variety of faith traditions and take the best from each of them. Sometimes those traditions align. Sometimes they don't. However, I don't throw them all out simply because I don't agree with some tenants. Good advice is good advice, regardless of who provides it.

    July 10, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Reality

      To the point on religions and their traditions:

      Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

      Added details available upon written request.

      A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

      e.g. Taoism

      "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

      Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

      July 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
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About this blog

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