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Where was God in the Philippines?
A flood survivor is surrounded by debris on the Philippine island of Leyte.
November 11th, 2013
11:16 AM ET

Where was God in the Philippines?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - The disasters are always different and often devastating. But the questions they raise are hauntingly familiar.

In the days since Super Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines on Thursday, survivors are frantically searching for lost family members and international aid groups are springing into action.

Officials say the death toll may rise to 10,000 in the heavily Catholic country. Meanwhile, many people are asking: How should we make sense of such senseless death and destruction? Was God in the whirlwind itself, as the Bible hints, or present only in the aftermath, as people mobilize to provide food, water and shelter?

These questions may not be new, but we keep asking them, perhaps because the answers remain so elusive.

For many Americans, a paradox sits at the heart of their thinking about natural disasters. According to a survey taken after 2011's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, most Americans (56%) believe that God is control of everything.

But more Americans blame hurricanes, earthquakes and other storms on global warming (58%) than on an angry and punishing deity (38%), according to a 2011 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute.

“These kind of questions about God being in control and there simultaneously being suffering are the kind of things that keep seminarians up at night," institute CEO Robert P. Jones said in 2011.

"They’re thorny theological issues."

READ: Typhoon Haiyan: Survivors in Philippines face grim struggle as death toll rises

The Bible's Psalm 107 says that “For (God) commands, and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves thereof. ... He turns rivers into a wilderness, and the water springs into dry ground."

But, as the poll shows, most Americans have moved past the idea that God causes natural disasters, wrote Stephen Prothero, a frequent CNN contributor, in a 2011 column.

"When it comes to earthquakes and hurricanes, our authorities are geologists and meteorologists," Prothero said as he rode out Hurricane Irene on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. "Most of us interpret these events not through the rumblings of the biblical prophet Jeremiah or the poetry of the Book of Revelation but through the scientific truths of air pressure and tectonic plates."

For atheists, storms like Haiyan are proof that God doesn't exist, author and activist Sam Harris said.

"Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil or imaginary," Harris said after Japan's tsunami. "Take your pick, and choose wisely."

God may or may not be in withering storms, but many religious leaders say they sense a divine presence in the aftermath, as people across the world mobilize to lend a hand.

Rabbi Harold Kushner is one of the most famous names in the realm of theodicy, a branch of theology that tries to explain the unexplainable: why a good God would allow bad things to happen.

After Japan's tsunami, Kushner called nature "an equal-opportunity destroyer," making no distinctions between sinners and saints.

But Kushner, author of the bestselling book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," said he sees God's hand in the resilience of people whose lives have been destroyed and in the "goodness and generosity" of strangers who donate and pray for the survivors.

READ: How to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan 

That still leaves a tricky question, though: Why do humans suffer, sometimes terribly, in the first place?

There's no good answer, says the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and best-selling author.

"Each person has to come to grips with that," Martin said. "It’s not as if some magic answer can be found. But the idea of God suffering along with us can be very helpful."

Muslims, on the other hand, see stormy trials as tests from God, said Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances.

"Muslims believe that God tests those he loves, and these tragedies also serve as a reminder to the rest of us to remain grateful to God for all our blessings and cognizant that we must support those in need," Syeed said.

Vietnamese Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh, whose native country remains in Haiyan's path, said such storms remind us that our lives are impermanent and the importance of treasuring each moment.

"This is the best that we can do for those who have died: We can live in such a way that they can feel they are continuing to live in us, more mindfully, more profoundly, more beautifully, tasting every minute of life available to us, for them," Hanh said.

Stephen Prothero, Jessica Ravitz and Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Asia • Atheism • Belief • Bible • Buddhism • Christianity • Death • Ethics • Faith • God • Islam • Judaism • natural disasters • Philippines • Prayer

soundoff (3,827 Responses)
  1. Apple Bush

    Everybody else gets it. Big picture; trees forest and all that but with the right keys in the pocket. A scented candle a call a text a smile a frown. The unhappiness may come from the genitalia or from the past; all must exit.

    November 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  2. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Russ pointed out that death is the ultimate natural disaster. Death, it seems, is something that was not intended for us. But 15 out of 16 people have died. Those who have not yet died are no less likely than all the rest to die of the same failures of our biology that killed all the rest. What is there that even hints that we should be eternal?

    November 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Good afternoon Tom. It could be the level of human consciousness that allows us to perceive spiritually.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The first problem is that death isn't a disaster. Not for the planet. It is a positive, more so if we did not have ritualistic burial. Anyway my point is that the weather caused a disaster which in turn caused death. It is weird to call death a disaster at least to me. Much ado about nothing I suppose.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I perceive that my memory of what I was about as a person 40, or even 20, years ago is somewhat sketchy. I don't even persist over the time I am alive. If my "spirit" lives forever, will it still be me in a billion years?

      November 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  3. Vic

    The simple explanation is "It just comes with the territory."

    We are bound to this earth and life realm by design. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, God put a curse on this life until the end of time that we cannot escape but need to endure and pass the test of "faith."

    God created this universe and life in it and set everything in motion where all the Natural Processes are automatic thereafter, of which is weather

    Weather is basically the atmospheric conditions that comprise its state in terms of temperature, pressure, winds, precipitation, etc. Natural Disasters, which come with the territory, are due to Natural Processes, and are repeating in many cases. If you squeeze the balloon at one end, it shows at another, naturally.

    Not a single bit of existence escapes the knowledge and control of God but that does not mean they are necessarily apocalyptic. Everything happens on His watch.

    Now, God can supernaturally command anything to manifest and happen naturally for whatever reason He wills but that's not for us to know nor decide.

    The bottom line is, God is ALWAYS there.

    November 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Since God is always there, maybe he can convince my wife to shut the damn door when she goes to the bathroom.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Doris

      "We are bound to this earth and life realm by design"

      I have to assume by the rest of your post, Vic you mean divine design. What is the evidence of such design, divine or not?

      "Not a single bit of existence escapes the knowledge and control of God..."

      So you don't believe in the watchmaker God that say John Adams believed in – one so didn't get involved with our lives, right Vic? You know, that Deist God that was popular with those who wrote the U.S. Consti-tution. Well, if you believe your God gives you free will and chooses when to intervene with people's lives, why should we not consider such a god a sadist?

      November 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
      • Doris

        ( one that didn't get )

        November 12, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
      • Vic

        God is graceful, loving, merciful, and forgiving but not sadist nor spiteful.

        Nothing escapes His knowledge and control means that even though they are natural events, they still are of His creation. In other words, Natural Process produce natural events but they cannot exit into a non-created by God being.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
        • Doris

          Wow, vic – so you avoided the specific question – but let's make it simpler – do you believe your God plays an active role in your life – does he makes decisions at specific points in time that will affect you?

          November 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • Vic

          God intervenes or not according to His Sovereign Will, as He sees fit, and without ceasing this temporal and finite life realm.

          November 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It is disturbing that your God likes to watch, Vic. That reminds of a character in a John Waters movie, can't remember which one, who liked to come to fatal crash scenes to see the bodies and body parts being gathered up.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Doris

      "for whatever reason He wills but that's not for us to know nor decide. "

      (because without that "clause" religions can't keep the control "locked in")

      November 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Now, God can supernaturally command anything to manifest and happen naturally for whatever reason He wills but that's not for us to know nor decide."

      I love how some things are not for us to know, and other things are for us to "know" through faith....and the difference is completely arbitrary and capricious depending on the person making the unknowable claim...in this case Vic.

      November 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • Vic

        Actually that's part of faith; we do not know, nor are we capable of knowing, everything about God and His Will, Wisdom, Justice, plans, etc.

        November 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  4. Aloha

    Will somebody provide evidence for God?

    November 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Please define "God"

      November 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • AE

      Most people on here are looking for an idol, not God.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Newt

      Jesus Christ is the evidence.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • AE

        Yes.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
        • nope.

          @AE
          nope.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • Joey

        Yes, the evidence of your delusion.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • Ace

        show evidence not just some "name" ?

        and why is most of his life missing from the "bible"?

        and why are almost all of the books written by women missing from the "bible" as well?

        Just the facts.

        PLEASE.

        November 12, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Khan

      You need to talk to President Bush Jr. in private, god had talked to him. He killed millions in Iraq and Afghanistan on gods orders.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
      • Ummmm

        Sure, Mr. Bush was delusional.

        But do you know who yodels "Allahu Akbar" as they blast "infidels" off the face of the Earth?

        November 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The moral of the story:
          It is right to mistrust a religionaut.
          Beware the motives of anyone willing to accept a proposition despite a total lack of suipporting evidence.
          All shamans should be considered guilty until proven innocent.

          November 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  5. bigwilly526

    Their is no God, or Gods, stop stop posting this same article every time we have a disaster.

    November 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • *

      There, not their.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It always generates lots of clicks so I expect they will keep doing it, as tired as the same arguments over and over become.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  6. Eric G

    Please provide any verifiable evidence that your god exists.

    November 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Science

      Please provide any verifiable evidence that you're not a robot.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • fred

      How about the estimated 98 billion humans that have walked on this planet who left verifiable evidence they worshiped a being greater than themselves?

      November 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
      • Observer

        fred,

        You didn't answer his request.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • fred

          If the artifacts of 98 billion humans are insufficient what does God need to do................walk on water?

          November 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
        • Joey

          He could just appear in the sky tomorrow and that would pretty much take care of any doubt.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • fred

          Joey, do you really think that would work where you love God because he took on a form you approve? Your worship would not be based on love but fear...........or does God need to look like the gingerbread man.

          November 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
        • Joey

          I don't care what god looks like, he could look like a squid for all I care. If he appeared in the sky tomorrow to the whole world at the same time and said I am the Christian god and I am real that would pretty much clear up all doubt.

          November 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
        • fred

          Joey,
          You cannot imagine what was before you were born and you cannot imagine what is after you die. To say it is nothing or something is foolish speculation on your part. To say you don't know then claim it is not God is says you actually do know. So you say your belief in no God is better than another who believes there is God which makes you a hypocrite because you believe in what you cannot see.

          November 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Joey

          Fred what? I don't think I'm better than anyone, and there could be a god out there somewhere but I see no reason to think it is the Christian god.

          November 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • fred

          Joey
          What god continues to catch your attention?

          November 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
        • Joey

          So far none, but we will see what happens in the future.

          November 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Billy

        Argumentum ad populum fallacy, fred. Well done; lol.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        All that belief, fred, and it just doesn't converge on your God. Does that discourage you?

        November 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • fred

          My God says that we are held accountable for what we were given. If the only vision I could muster is Joe of the Volcano I get a great deal of grace for my beliefs. When God comes into my agnostic life and presents the things of God, answers prayer and transforms my life completely it would take even greater grace from God to cut me some slack should I reject what I have seen and what I have known. In order to not believe I would need to use all the unproven skeptic sound bites from Dawkins and accept that what is unproven speculation trumps my actual experience. I would need to believe in what atheists cannot see knowing the presence that is. I would need to believe existence is without purpose and accept a thought process that runs contrary to the creative never ending wonder that is before all of us and is evident. Exactly what does the atheist draw on to conclude existence is without purpose in the face of wonder and self awareness that seeks purpose, origin and creator.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • ME II

          "Exactly what does the atheist draw on to conclude existence is without purpose in the face of wonder and self awareness that seeks purpose, origin and creator."

          super typhoons are a start

          November 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • fred

          ME II
          "super typhoons"
          A super typhoon is a localized natural event. Why would that lead you to ponder purpose?

          November 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • ME II

          @fred,
          It's not a difficult concept, nor original. While you may claim some divine reason for it, suffering makes sense in a universe that has no divine purpose and cares little for the struggles of us humans.

          November 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
        • fred

          ME II
          So if there was God you expect a different result from a storm?

          November 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
        • ME II

          @fred
          "So if there was God you expect a different result from a storm?"

          Form a capricious, limited, ambivalent god? Perhaps not.

          November 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
        • ME II

          * From

          November 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
        • fred

          ME II
          There is a difference between God who is not a respecter of persons and "a capricious, limited, ambivalent god". God created the world such that everything is part of that creative wonder. Storms and sunny days fall as they will but the way of the righteous is blessed. The evidence of God in our lives is revealed in our "fruit". Adam and Eve went for the "fruit" that filled their desire whereas evidence of God is revealed by "fruit" that fills Gods desires. That tree from Genesis in the middle of our garden is still at play as is the voice of deception.
          One in the presence of God radiates goodness in storms and sunshine alike. On occasion or sometimes often the storms seem to overcome yet the true nature of that person will be revealed.

          In short creation is perfect in revealing your soul. If your playbook says you don't have one your life reveals that. The storm in such a case revealed God sucks or there is no god.

          November 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
        • ME II

          @fred,
          You can attempt to justify this world in light of a supposedly all-loving, all-good, god, but the simple answer is that such events are exactly what one would expect if there were no god(s).

          November 12, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • fred

          ME II
          "the simple answer is that such events are exactly what one would expect if there were no god(s)."
          =>How could you or anyone possible know that? Simply because we only know and understand those natural properties that are revealed does not mean they are the only properties of matter and energy. We understand patterns and call them laws yet that says nothing about their origin.
          =>would you expect other worlds in alternative universes to have suffering humans?

          November 12, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
        • ME II

          @fred,
          "Simply because we only know and understand those natural properties that are revealed does not mean they are the only properties of matter and energy."

          Leaving the word "revealed" aside, you are correct that there may well be other forces in play that we do not understand, e.g. Dark Matter/Energy, however as yet there is no evidence of supernatural intervention. This doesn't mean that there isn't or won't be any, but if things progress without such intervention, i.e. "as if" there were no god(s), then we would expect things to occur as our current understanding predicts, as far as it is capable any way.
          On the other hand, should god(s) intervene, then our predictions would not work.
          And our current understanding predicts typhoons.

          "We understand patterns and call them laws yet that says nothing about their origin."

          The origins of the rules of the universe, if that is even a valid concept, seems irrelevant. Our scientific laws and theories are descriptions of how the universe works based on observation, not based on where those rules came from.

          "would you expect other worlds in alternative universes to have suffering humans?"

          Unlikely. While a hypothetical alternate universe may very well have living organisms that struggle for survival, just like humans do here, provided that universe had the same rules this one does, it seems unlikely that those organisms would be "human" simply because there are too many random events that occurred to produce us too expect that to occur elsewhere. However, if you are positing an infinite number of alternate universes, then the chances of other humans suffering in a different universe, I think, approaches 100%.

          November 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      It is cracked and all of joy and reality is being sucked into the earth like a black hole unwilling to release any happiness back to Earth and each person in reviewing their lives and religion now face the abyss completely naked and alone. Stolen and attacked by their own home and returned to nothing.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • AE

      I can not deny that Jesus is real. He has saved me. In return I try to carry that love to other people.

      Martin Luther King, JR provides great evidence for me:

      The phone rang out in the midnight silence, and when King lifted the receiver, a drawl released a torrent of obscene words and then the death threat: "Listen, n–, we've taken all we want from you; before next week you'll be sorry you ever came to Montgomery."

      King hung up without comment, as had become his custom. Threatening phone calls had become a daily routine in the weeks of the protests, and King had tried to brush them off at first. In recent days, however, the threatening phone calls had started to take a toll, increasing in number to thirty or forty a day and growing in their menacing intent.

      Unwelcome thoughts prey on the mind in the late hours, and King was overcome with fear. "I got out of bed and began to walk the floor. I had heard these things before, but for some reason that night it got to me.

      Stirred into wakefulness, King made a pot of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table. "I felt myself faltering," he said. It was as though the violent undercurrents of the protest rushed in upon him with heightened force, and he surveyed the turbulent waters for a way of escape, searching for an exit point between courage and convenience-"a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward"-and he found none. "I was ready to give up," he said.

      King thought of baby Yoki sleeping in her crib, of her "little gentle smile," and of Coretta, who had sacrificed her music career, according to the milieu of the Baptist pastor's wife, to follow her husband south. For the first time, he grasped the seriousness of his situation and with it the inescapable fact that his family could be taken away from him any minute, or more likely he from them. He felt himself reeling within, as the Psalmist had said, his soul "melted because of trouble, at wit's end." "I felt myself . . . growing in fear," said King.

      Sitting at his kitchen table sipping the coffee, King's thoughts were interrupted by a sudden notion that at once intensified his desperation and clarified his options. "Something said to me, 'You can't call on Daddy now, you can't call on Mama. You've got to call on that something in that person that your daddy used to tell you about, that power that can make a way out of no way.'" With his head now buried in his hands, King bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud. He said:

      Lord, I'm down here trying to do what's right. I still think I'm right. I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But Lord, I must confess that I'm weak now, I'm faltering. I'm losing my courage. Now, I am afraid. And I can't let the people see me like this because if they see me weak and losing my courage, they will begin to get weak. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I've come to the point where I can't face it alone.

      As he prayed alone in the silent kitchen, King heard a voice saying, "Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you. Even until the end of the world." Then King heard the voice of Jesus. "I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No never alone. No never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone."

      And as the voice washed over the stains of the wretched caller, King reached a spiritual shore beyond fear and apprehension. "I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before," he said. "Almost at once my fears began to go," King said of the midnight flash of illumination and resolve. "My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything."

      -–

      That's our God. Call on Him, He answers. I see evidence in people that I deal with everyday.

      God's evidence is greater than any evidence that an atheist has provided me.

      Honest.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • WASP

        yeah i see proof of your god every day as well.....................10,000+ dead in philipines.
        such a great god. :p

        November 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        You can not deny that Harry Potter could be real. He saved me from he who must not be named. In return I try to carry that love to other muggles. I have as much evidence for this as you have for your invisible wizard you named "God"...

        November 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
        • AE

          But are you being honest about Harry Potter?

          November 12, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          Wingardium Leviosa!! I just made some dust float off my window sill so I know the spell worked. What evidence cayou prvide for your Wizards power?

          November 12, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • AE

          He can change your heart.

          November 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "He can change your heart."

          That's great news! Here are some people who i'm sure will wat to hear all about it! http://nyp.org/services/transplantation-surgery/heart-transplants.html

          There are many children on the list, but i'm not sure exactly how you want them to get on your Gods list...

          November 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
        • AE

          heart härt/ noun "the central or innermost part of something."

          November 12, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  7. Apple Bush

    Rabbits hate natural disasters. To learn more about bunnies, please go to http://www.wikipoops.com

    November 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  8. The Central Scrutinizer

    The only thing guaranteed on this planet is the body count going up. Death is the gods delight.

    November 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Science

      Death is part of evolution. Should we start hating on evolution, too?

      November 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        I don't understand what you mean exactly, but do whatever you wish.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • Everybody else

          You make no sense either and your poetry should be saved for empty coffee houses.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Well then don't read my posts you big silly.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  9. palintwit

    Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
    A: To get to the other side.

    Q: Why did the tea party patriot cross the road?
    A: To get to Walmart for the big sale on size 34 floppy clown shoes.

    Q: Why did the Palins cross the road?
    A: To get run over by a Peterbilt. Splat !

    November 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • QuestionCity

      Q: What does palintwit think about most of the day?
      A: Sarah Palin.

      Q: Who thinks and talks more about Sarah Palin, an average red-state Amercian Republican or palintwit?
      A: palintwit

      Q: Who has mentioned the word "Palin" more today, Fox News or palintwit?
      A: palintwit

      November 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.

      November 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  10. Apple Bush

    Natural disasters just happen. This is the planet we evolved on and it is not changing for us. When we are extinct, there will still be weather.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Maddy

      Exactly. Weather happens.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  11. travelgiveworklove

    I can understand why it would be easy to reject a loving and all powerful God after something like this happens. But please don't let your emotions cloud your knowledge. The Bible says that "My people perish because of a lack of knowledge". Knowledge about who He is. Yes what happened in the Philippines is sad. I was just there to 6 months ago working on a project and those people are truly the nicest people on the planet. But what they experience now has nothing to do with who they are as a country but who we are collectively as a people. We have all been doomed for death since the fall but the only way to avoid this death is through Jesus. But a life with Jesus does not mean we will be immune to the results of the sinful natures of the world. Christians are still prosecuted every day. But we are not prosecuted in vain. This stuff happens because we live in a sinful world and they're going to keep happening until Jesus comes again. God isn't dead. He's very much alive. The disciples said it "What manner of man is this that even the winds and waves obey Him?". God doesn't cause this to happen He allows it to happen. We cause it to happen. This should not make you hate God. It should make you see how powerful He is and make fall on your knees in complete and utter awe, respect and fear. Not fear because of the possibility of death but fear out of love, because somehow in your ignorance and your sin, He has spared your life and is still faithful to you. Next time this happens, don't ask yourself, why did this happen to them?", ask yourself, "why didn't this happen to me?".

    November 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I couldn't get through this whole thing but I agree with he first sentence.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Since there is no reason to think that there are any gods, and your bible is so flawed as to make the god described within to be an impossibility, why don't you just accept that people are social animals, and the world, for that matter, the whole universe is trying to kill us.
      There is NO connection between the terrific and terrible power of nature, and anything men have done, other than the pollution men have made which is effecting the weather. There is no cause and effect that you can show any god had anything to do with it.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • preston

      "But please don't let your emotions cloud your knowledge. The Bible says....."

      That's as far as one needs to read.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "We have all been doomed for death since the fall but the only way to avoid this death is through Jesus."

      Even if this were true and made sense (It doesn't), it would be immoral and unethical.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      "This should not make you hate God. It should make you see how powerful He is and make fall on your knees in complete and utter awe, respect and fear. Not fear because of the possibility of death but fear out of love, because somehow in your ignorance and your sin, He has spared your life and is still faithful to you."

      Look, 'fear' of death NOW, or fear of death LATER is still fear. Fear God because he could destroy me. That's not LOVE by a long shot. I don't want my kid to fear me. I want my child to heed my advice because I have knowledge that they don't. I genuinely LOVE her, and wouldn't send her to a eternal damnation for not listening to me. You believe out of FEAR. Just like a gangster makes people do things for them out of fear.

      Hey, did God love those kids he used as an example to Pharaoh? The ones he killed, personally? What kind of love is that? He didn't send a hurricane, or a flood (he did that too), or a band of wolves........ he came HIMSELF and killed them.

      Oh, my fault, it was his alter-ego the HOLY GHOST that committed that atrosity. Why do we let God slide when he kills personally?

      November 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • I Don't Get It

      travel,
      "He has spared your life..."

      If your main goal is to go to eternal heavenly bliss with your superhero, wouldn't you be disappointed to have to stay in this life? The dead would be the fortunate ones, right?

      November 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • james

      persecuted not prosecuted

      November 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Madtown

      don't let your emotions cloud your knowledge. The Bible says........
      ----
      The bible doesn't really represent "knowledge", it's more like opinion.

      November 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  12. jorge washinsen

    It is really a stupid question.What is the purpose of the question?

    November 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Krista

      It is a very good question.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      I question your questioning of the question. Why do you question the question?

      November 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        What is a rhetorical question?
        Why is redundancy repeti/tive?

        November 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  13. L

    If atheism did not save these people then what's the point to atheism? People are dead lack of belief did not save them.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • M

      Atheism loves us in the same way a child abuser "loves" his children.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        If I may....wtf?

        November 12, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Apple, It is the equivalent of "I know you are, but what am I"?

          November 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Thank you?

      November 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Well Duh

      L is a total troll. Do not feed the troll.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Maddy

      If Christianity did not save these people then what’s the point to Christianity? People are dead, belief did not save them.

      And the Philippines is a VERY devout nation.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • AE

        Death is not the final outcome. Most Christians don't stop believing when they face tragedy. The Bible makes it clear that we will all face tragedy. In fact Jesus says if you can't handle it, you probably shouldn't follow Him.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          The bible also says there was a worldwide flood and that you can tell if your wife is unfaithful by having her drink magic water mixed with dust.

          Don't believe everything you read.

          November 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. It is religions that claim an omnipotent god who can therefore do anything; the same gods they credit for the good things that happen, but strangely do not blame for the bad things.

      November 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      There is no 'point' to atheism – it makes no claims to save. That is honest and true. I'm not pretending there is some master plan, nor claiming there's a compassionate being out there that would save you, but for no particular reason chooses not to.

      If you're in trouble, KNOWING the truth that no one is coming to help you, is helpful. It tells you that you need to do all you can to survive without expecting assistance. A lie, that someone is watching out for you, can lead you to not try to save yourself.

      Truth is helpful and meaningful. It doesn't save you, but it gives you the facts to make the best possible choice for yourself.

      November 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  14. Andrew

    The only way that I know to explain how this can be the provenance of a loving God requires an understanding of karma and reincarnation, which only a very few Christian groups and denominations accept. Perhaps it should be stressed more because it can answer the question...

    November 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  15. Rev. Rick

    Christians wring their hands and ask "why does God allow this kind of thing to happen?" Atheists mock Christians and wonder why Christians still believe in such a ruthless deity. Wake up! $h1t happens, and it is not God's fault. If these suffering people in the Philippines are to be helped it is up to us to do it. Quit bickering over whether or not God exists. If there is a miracle to be delivered to save the survivors of this natural disaster, it is up to the human race to deliver it.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      There is no god.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • Rev. Rick

        And your response reinforces my point...thanks.

        November 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          And you completely missed the point. LOL

          November 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      Yes, I think you both did...

      November 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes crap happens. This is self evident and we all agree.

      Yes, providing urgent aid and support to the Philippines is critical and we all agree.

      Where we disagree is the concept that a loving God exists. The existence of natural disasters suggests that any hypothetical God is either ruthless or, at best, callous regarding human existence.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  16. bostontola

    If God wanted man to have the free will to choose Him or not, He would have banned parents from teaching anything until the child reached the age of (around) 18 when they can really choose. We already know a child can be taught to believe about anything (Easter Bunnies, etc.)

    November 12, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • fred

      Error alert, children do not hold onto false beliefs when presented with reality over time. Gods presence continues in those who do not have false beliefs and excise free will.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • Krista

        Amen. That was some weird logic Boston presented.

        November 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • bostontola

          Amen might be your logic. What about all the children that were taught to worship Zeus or Odin? When they grew up they continued to believe. The vast majority of believers were taught wrong things and continued to believe it.

          November 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
      • Rynomite

        Children don't persist in the belif in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus because their parents eventually tell them they are fake.

        Sadly, most parents don't tell them that god is also fake.

        November 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • Krista

          I've known atheist parents that have children that eventually choose to believe in God. How does that happen?

          November 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
        • Joey

          Most likely it is the result of some kind of brain damage.

          November 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • Krista

          No, their belief in God was not the result of brain damage. Do you believe that atheist myth that religious people are dumber than atheists?

          November 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • Rynomite

          Those parents just taught their children WHAT TO THINK. They didn't teach their children HOW TO THINK.

          Atheist parents can be just as guilty of that as Christian parents.

          November 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • Well Duh

          @Krista
          "I've known atheist parents that have children that eventually choose to believe in God. How does that happen?"

          People believe things based on bad, or lack of, evidence all the time.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Krista

          It is amazing that good, intelligent atheist parents raise children to believe that God is fake, and yet the children choose to believe in God.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Well Duh

          @Krista
          "It is amazing that good, intelligent atheist parents raise children to believe that God is fake, and yet the children choose to believe in God."

          Again, people believe things based on bad, or lack of, evidence all the time. So it comes down to WHY did they choose to believe in God, was it based on convincing evidence, or something else?

          November 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • Krista

          For me it was based on convincing evidence. I don't know about you or others.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
        • Well Duh

          @Krista
          "For me it was based on convincing evidence. I don't know about you or others."

          Care to share your evidence?

          November 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
        • Krista

          I have a disability that with God's help I can overcome today.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
        • Well Duh

          @Krista
          "I have a disability that with God's help I can overcome today."

          What is the disability, and why hadn't you asked to overcome it already?

          November 12, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
        • Joey

          I don't think that all Christians are dumb, just Young Earth Creationists.

          November 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Making up things and presenting them as fact is not acceptable.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • fred

        Yes, end Santa now and Eat the Easter Bunny. Let the godless world show its heart.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  17. Greg

    Lets just say that there is some higher being that is all knowing and all powerful.

    How can we worship and praise such a god knowing the evil and horrific suffering he afflicts on the earth and humanity.

    If God does exist, and I can't prove he doesn't, 🙂 I'd like to have a chat with the guy to find out why he obviously hates us. Like Batman said, It's not what we say, but the things we do that define us. So Regardless what that nice book says... where is god's love?

    November 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      The Christian god loves us in tha same way a child abuser "loves" his children.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  18. Rynomite

    Where was god? Why he was saving the odd random person while wiping out the surrounding villagers! Go god Go!

    November 12, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  19. Live4Him

    @a reasonable atheist : Why does an all-powerful deity rely upon error-prone and relatively powerless humans to get its message out?

    There are limits even for 'all-powerful deity'. For example, 'Could God create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it? But, couldn't he lift anyways?'

    The same is true in this situation. How could God give us free will (to reject or accept him) if we knew for certainty the outcome? God wants us to have faith in him, rather than have certain knowledge and accept him out of fear of the alternatives. Since His direct communications with mankind would eliminate the need for faith, he is also limited to 'error-prone and relatively powerless humans' to pass on the message.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      If you believe the Bible, it is not possible for man to have free will. Things are as God wished them to be.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
      • fred

        Right, that is like saying you have no free will because God created rather than simply allowing an eternal abyss.

        November 12, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
        • The Central Scrutinizer

          It matters not to me what Christians believe. I am simply pointing out that, according to the Bible, free will is not possible.

          November 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Well Duh

      @Live4Him

      "God wants us to have faith in him, rather than have certain knowledge"

      Why?

      "and accept him out of fear of the alternatives."

      So he wants you to believe in him out of fear. So very loving of him.

      "Since His direct communications with mankind would eliminate the need for faith, he is also limited to 'error-prone and relatively powerless humans' to pass on the message."

      This is such BS. He could have easily have given more revelations to more people worldwide instead of to only a few in the Middle East and then hope that the message spread correctly from there and not take 2,000 years and still everyone has not heard of Jesus.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
      • Joey

        You can't really use that argument considering god had direct communication with people on Earth in the past. Why did they deserve this proof and nobody alive today does?

        November 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Rynomite

      How do you know god wants us to have faith in him? Has he communicated this to you himself?

      November 12, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Rynomite : How do you know god wants us to have faith in him?

        Hebrews 11:6
        And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

        November 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
        • Rynomite

          So you are taking some random humans word for it. Thought so. Thanks.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • Fan2C

          Live4,
          Re: Letter to Hebrews

          What makes you think that Mr. Paul of Tarsus knew anything special? Because he *said* he did?

          November 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Madtown

      he is also limited to 'error-prone and relatively powerless humans' to pass on the message.
      -----
      A non-sensical attempt at justification. Ah....no. He can't require all his creations to follow a certain way of living, but then not provide instructions on how to live that way. You've gotten yourself all confused.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Mike

      Nonsense. He is GOD, is He not? He has no limits. He can do whatever He wants.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • mk

      "God wants us to have faith in him, rather than have certain knowledge and accept him out of fear of the alternatives"

      So he wants to keep us ignorant and scared.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select The Truth out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things – especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  20. The Central Scurinizer

    sam stone may post anything he wishes on the Belief Blog. I hope that is clear now.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      I meant to write Scurinizer.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:24 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.