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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

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(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. Nina

    That is correct, God doesn't always give us what we want. He is in control and makes things happen for the good of mankind.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • allenwoll

      You are NOT correct.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Nina, if that were true we would not be reading your posts on the blog.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I'm sure the Philippinos are feeling really good about what their God did for their good right now.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      so what good came out of the 250000 killed in the tsunami a few years back?

      November 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Kenneth Tabor

      god doesnt always give us what we want? that is just trick religious people pull to get their god off the hook attempting to try to reconcile reality with their idea of what god is. u must certainly havent read your bible. your bible specifically says that prayer should always work for those that believe.seems like this god of yours is relentlessly cruel. always preying on the most unfortunate of the world..where was this god when thousands of women and children were being crushed to death and washed away? many all the while praying the this god would spare them but only to give them a violent painful and untimely death. and afterwards u want to praise this god? never would i praise or bow down to such a malevolent being. ruminate on that. i dont think your god is listening but i do wish the people of the Philippines a speedy recovery...all we have to rely on is our fellow man and woman.

      November 13, 2013 at 5:37 am |
  2. allenwoll

    The God issue is really NOT that complicated. . Why would a loving god inflict so much pain and suffering on the helpless ? ? I refer NOT to humans, who CAN help themselves, but rather to the creatures, eating one another alive ! ! ! . There is neither sense to nor need for THAT ! ! !
    .
    SOMEthing created the Universe - but it has long since passed on to the NEXT job "out there" ! !

    November 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  3. Where is your God now?

    I have asked Christians for years and they run and hide.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • guyFromVA

      God is sovereign over everything, so He's right where he's always been.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Yes, being a giant asshole as usual.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • George70

      Run and hide from what?

      November 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Wake up George.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  4. Alaya

    "God" gave human beings free will to do what they want. These terrible and tragic storms are the result of climate change created by man's actions. Prayer does change things. There are studies that have confirmed that. Rather than spend your energy here haggling over who is right, what God is and that he is a failure. How about if you stop and do something to help those suffering from typhoon. Energy better used. If you don't believe in a higher power of some sort, fine, but please take action to help those who are suffering rather than filling these pages full of ridicule and hatred. Please be part of the solution while hundreds of thousands are suffering in ways you clearly cant image. If you could, you would take action to help. Thank you from a first responder.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Courtney Puyear

      This has nothing to do with global warming. Typhoons are not created because of global warming. Even climatologists agree that these storms will occur weather or not global warming is real or not. They only argue that they increase the intensity of the storms that do form. Not surprising though... Ignorance is rife within religious circles. Interestingly though, you made the comment that we should give instead of pray. That is probably the only thing in your entire post that I agree with. No amount of praying is going to help these people. They need money, food, clothing and physical help. None of which requires a god to provide, just good people.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Ann

      I'm not aware of any scientific studies that show that prayer has changed anything – can you cite some? There are several that show it as ineffective, listed by another poster below.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Ann

      By the way, I've never heard anyone refer to their profession as "first responder" before. Since you seem to think it's important enough to put in all your posts, why not tell us what you actually do? Are you a police officer? EMT? School nurse? Or what?

      November 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Frank

      Well said, whatever your profession. Don't listen to these people.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Kenneth Tabor

      are u that asinine or just willfully ignorant!? there is not a single reputable study that shows prayer works. in fact every study on it has shown that prayer doesnt work! keep grabbing at straws...

      November 13, 2013 at 5:39 am |
  5. Joey

    It is amazing how many people don't seem to know the difference between prey and pray.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      People who pray ARE prey. That is the difference.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
      • Nancy

        Too funny!!

        November 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
      • Frank

        "Too funny!!" C'mon Nancy....

        November 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    Please give generously. These people are in deep and there are no gods to help. Just us.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • waterman

      Well said.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  7. Courtney Puyear

    Imagine, if you can, a poor filipino family cowering in their poorly built home with this storm bearing down on them. They hold on to their loved ones, the entire time praying to god that they make it out of this disaster. The water begins to rise outside, the winds begin to tear away parts of their home. The family pleads with god to save them. The mother, a hard working woman who is the nucleaus of the family. She holds the family together. The father, a man that has 3 jobs just to put food on the table and put their 3 kids thru private school. All of them praying and pleading to god to save their lives. But the prayers go unanswered as the water continues to rise, and the wind continues to tear apart their home. In the end, no amount of prayer saves the family. All have died in the storm. To me, its even worse than just a god that does not care. Its a god that even when pleaded with, just sits and watches with folded arms. "I will teach them all how valueable life is by torturing this poor family". I have a message for you.. There is no god!! Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people all the time. There is no rhyme or reason these things happen other then they are just part of the natural world we are living in. When people start to realize this, the world will be a better place.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Alaya

      God did respond to their prayers. As a seemingly non praying person, you have no frame of reference for what happened in the hearts and experience of the family you describe. Your description of their experience is based on yours. Fear not, they were not alone and their loved ones that died were not alone. I hope you can find some peace. Yes this is a terrible terrible tragedy. But please do not assume your understanding is what occurred. Thank you from a first responder.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • Courtney Puyear

        So you don't believe these people prayed? And if you do think they did, why did god not save them?

        November 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        are you trying to claim, as a first responder, that the drowned children did not struggle to attempt to breathe as they were slammed around by debris? that they didnt cry in fear and despair?

        November 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • Ann

        You know, Alaya, I have a lot of respect for first responders but your job is completely irrelevant to the topic here. You sound like you're trying to claim it gives you some authority. Unless you can say, "I was the first responder, and I saw the angel of god appear and heal the dead kid" –?

        November 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Colin

      well said Courtney

      November 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Gerry Evans

      GOOD POST COURTNEY....

      November 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • jayjay

      maybe god realizes that tthis poor philipino family is in a worse situation if they continue life. Maybe taking there life now will lead them to better life in the hear after or next life. Maybe taking there life is a reward to them to a better situation.
      We look at our existance in a finite way . We look at our existance as just our life and physical body. Maybe this philipino family is a live in somewhere else in a better place.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  8. Jim

    "Where was God in the Philippines?". . . . In our minds where he has always been.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  9. Ann

    Ugh, not this tired old debate again. Every time there's some kind of disaster, people twist logic around into knots and stand it on its head trying to reconcile the facts of what happened with their preferred image of a loving deity.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  10. Alias

    Here we go again.
    Life is not fair. Poeple suffer and die.
    This does not prove that god does not exist.
    The arguement that "if gods existed, they would keep us all happy and protect us from everything" fails.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • AE

      God is not a magical genie that grants our wishes.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Colin

      alias, you said "The arguement that "if gods existed, they would keep us all happy and protect us from everything" fails."

      How about the fact that there is zero evidence for your God. How does that one stack up?

      November 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • AE

        God exists and love you, Colin.

        November 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • Madame Laveau

          AE,

          Shugu Mugu loves you and Colin too... take it from me; she's one of my favorite dolls, and she has told me this.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
        • AE

          Nobody that follows Shugu Mugu has ever saved my life. Good luck with that.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • guyFromVA

        Not true. There's enough evidence to convince those who are open-minded. Hardened skeptics won't be convinced by any amount of evidence.

        November 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • Colin

          Such as.....

          November 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • Fan2C

          guy,
          " Hardened skeptics won't be convinced by any amount of evidence."

          Your "God" is totally stymied to come up with a way to convince **everyone**?

          November 11, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Ann

          Your evidence is nothing more than folklore.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          There are a lot of people who accept things as if it was evidence, but there really is no evidence.

          Please elaborate, and I will show you why whatever evidence you think is real, is in fact not evidence of any gods.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'There's enough evidence to convince those who are open-minded.'

          quite the reverse, there is not enough evidence to convince those who are open minded.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
      • Alaya

        Dear Colin
        There is lots of evidence God exists. As a first responder I have seen it many many times. If God does not exist in your life, that's ok. But it doesn't mean God, how ever each one of us chooses to believe in God, does not exist. There are many ways to understand God, Ghandi, Martin Luther King and so many others believed and took action to help make a better world. I am sure you must have something you do well that can help others who are suffering. Why not just try asking your Higher Power to work thru you to help those millions, human and animal, that are suffering today. It might surprise you what will happen.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • Colin

          Evidence such as.....

          November 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • PaC

          Colin's posts are evidence that he is worse than those he professes to hate. Do you want me to copy and paste<b? some of your examples for you Colin?

          November 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
        • Alaya

          Colin, I cant reply to your last question under the question since there is not a link to do so, I will try responding here and hop you receive it. As a first responder I have witnessed and been told about many things that have happened to injured or dying people that have no physical explanation. Many who should have died did not. Many had near death experiences and return with amazing stories including a Harvard trained agnostic neuro surgeon's book: http://www.amazon.com/Proof-Heaven-Neurosurgeons-Journey-Afterlife/dp/1451695195/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384194119&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=harvard+nureo+surgeon+book+dead about dying and his experience. As a neuro surgeon he believed it was all hogwash about what happens to many at the time of death until a near fatal disease changed his mind and experience. Its an interesting read. Whether you ascribe to the idea of "heaven" ( or what ever you want to call it) there are many books written by people who have died and returned. I expect neither you nor I have enough education or training as a neuro surgeon does in matters of the brain. I hope your mind and heart will open to honest investigation of such matters. Good luck

          November 11, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • Colin

          PaC knock yourself out. I don';t hate anybody, just silly ideas.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Alaya
          What you have stated is the argument from ignorance fallacy.
          We don't know, so it must be god.

          Anything else?

          November 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • Caviar Emptor

          Alaya,

          New roe sturgeons are great too!

          November 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • Alias

        Colin,

        It's not my god. All I said was, the logic fails.
        The bible does not promise to keep us safe, warm and dry in this world.
        This is not a valid way to argue against his existance.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
        • Science.

          Logic is the atheists enemy.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'Logic is the atheists enemy'

          yeah, i think you have atheists confused with believers there.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
      • Nouri

        How amazing that people when hit by disasters remember to pray to God to save them.

        November 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  11. Reality

    thank goodness for Average Joe,, how else could an invisible god comment.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Alaya

      Joe is sharing what he believes. We are in America and have the right to do that remember? Did you know that the root of the word "sarcasm" is "tearing of the flesh"? Why not use your energy to help the world rather that tear it down? So many are suffering right now. Perhaps you too? Is that why you are so angry? Peace to you.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  12. Mari

    I feel deeply for those who have lost family and friends in this storm. I have two friends (best friends) who are from Philippines and one who has family that was in the destruction path of this storm. Her family is safe and accounted for. I have seen God move in my life and move miraculously. I pray that you do not lose hope even though it seems that everything is lost. I pray that you will be comforted in your lost. I believe God is present and will provide you comfort. There are many of us who are working diligently to provide support and resources to the people who have lost. Don't lost hope and know there are those of us praying and working on your behalf at this time. It is by God's strength that I can do all that I can to be a blessing to those of you in need.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Madame Laveau

      Mari,

      Thank you for the practical measures that you are taking to help. Me, I'm coddling my voodoo dolls with blankets, water and food as well as supporting REAL aid.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  13. Frank

    We got some nasty people commenting today. Bad weekend?

    November 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Reality

      yeah, the religious are a bit off their rocker as usual.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
      • Alaya

        I am a first responder and crisis counselor that has worked and lived thru many crises. I am a person of faith, hope. I wish your heart would open to all those in the world that are suffering rather than spew hatred here on these pages.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
        • G to the T

          "Spew hatred" – You see that a lot around here. Honestly, I've seen very few comments with outright "hate" implied. Me thinks you are took quick to assume that non-believer = unhappy for some reason. I don't hate christians or Yahweh or immigrants. I do hate ignorance though, especially the willful kind.

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

      Welcome to the Faith and Belief blog!

      November 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  14. MormonChristian

    The authors of this article seem to be only considering two possibilities to "where God is":

    1- ultimate controller of all natural disasters and phenomena on this earth

    OR

    2- reacting to all natural disasters (personal and larger)

    I believe He works in another way: He created and organized this Earth (by evolution over billions of years) with the purpose of giving us a place to live and experience things that could help us become more like Him. He gave us our freedom to choose how we would live that life and offers principles that will help us live that life more fully. And He sent His Son to show us how to live, and give His life so we could live again with Him, if we so choose.

    So there will be tragedies and disasters, murder and crime, but also the possibility for growth, learning, and development. The most important things we learn and do will be how we treat one another. So the one thing we can do with this tragedy and all others, is do whatever we can to help those who suffer.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Reality

      he skrewed up.. not perfect.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      "there will be tragedies and disasters, murder and crime"
      Yes, such as the criminal ( convicted) Joseph Smith, who used that hat seeing trick for many years to bilk people out of money, then used it to create your religion, so he could do whatever he wanted.
      He was a convicted con-man...not a prophet. He died trying to escape jail in a shoot out.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  15. CommonSensed

    Oh here we go.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  16. MormonChristian

    While it in no way relieves our suffering in these disasters, I believe the best thing God has done for us is to provide ultimate victory or death. He allows us to live our lives, choose and learn, and stumble and even suffer pain unto death. But we get to keep all that knowledge and experience for the eternities. We can use that suffering to develop empathy, love and a desire to serve others or we can let it grow into bitterness and despair. Jesus Christ experienced all the things we feel and see here so He could help relieve us of suffering if we turn to Him. As our ultimate Judge, He has mercy and love knowing what it is like to be human.

    In other words, God doesn't roll the dice nor does He control or swoop down to save us. He provided a plan for us that allows us to ultimately win, if we choose to love and follow Him.

    Every person on this earth will be resurrected as a gift of His Son. That's where God was for the people of the Phillipines and for all future disasters.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      sounds like a worthless deity

      November 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Summation: Your god doesn't give two farts about you while you're on the planet he made for you to suffer on. He simply wants you dead – then he'll give you all the cool stuff he promised.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Reality

      god skrewed up the universe.. ends there.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Make Mine Pumpkin

      Sing it:

      You will eat, bye and bye
      In that glorious land above the sky
      Work and pray, live on hay
      You'll get pie in the sky when you die.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • highlysceptic

      While I feel terrible about the loss of life in the Philippines, by all indications, the dead are the lucky ones, and if you are correct, they are all now experiencing their just reward, looking down from heaven and revelling in their new-found paradise. The hundreds of thousands who survived have lost everything. They are suffering today, and will be suffering for a long, long time to come. Are we supposed to wish that the death toll had been higher, so that they too , could have crossed over to join god's joyful new recruits?

      November 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  17. Reality

    As the Filipinos now realize,, prayer doesn't work. Good people and actions do, that includes from atheists

    November 11, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • boborama

      Atheism has no teachings nor requirements to help people in need.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        It doesn't teach NOT to help either...it doesn't teach anything , It is simply a non belief in deities., is there a point you are trying to make?

        November 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  18. Colin

    The Philippines is a heavily Catholic nation. No doubt many of the dead prayed as the storm bore down on them. Many of the parents whose little children were torn from their arms and dashed against trees surely prayed for God’s mercy. Alas, their prayers were ignored, as they always are.

    They actually did an experiment with sick people in Australia in the 80s. 5 groups of 500 people with different ailments of different severities were isolated. The 5 groups were split as follows

    A. For the first group of 500 sick people, Christian volunteers prayed to God that their condition would improve.
    B. For the second group of 500 sick people, Muslim volunteers prayed to Allah that their condition would improve.
    C. For the third group of 500 sick people, Australian Aboriginals performed traditional ceremonies to their ancestral spirits that their condition would improve.
    D. For the fourth group, Hindu volunteers prayed for their recovery.
    E. The fifth group was a control group for whom no prayers, chants or other supernatural imploring occurred.

    Similarly, researchers in the USA traced the social development of three major issues in recent history for which millions and millions of Christians have prayed in an effort to affect the outcome:

    A. Abortion
    B. Gay rights and gay marriage
    C. School prayer

    In the first experiment, none of the five groups did any better than the other four. Improvements were randomly distributed across all groups. In other words, Christian prayers work no better than doing nothing, or to praying to Allah, Brahma or some Aboriginal ancestor spirits.

    In the second, the Christians continued to lose and continue to lose to this day. Despite millions and millions of prayers, the anti-Christian position continues to make strides.

    Then we have the famous Benson study from Harvard University. Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School tested the effect of having three Christian groups pray for particular patients, starting the night before surgery and continuing for two weeks. The volunteers prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications" for specific patients, for whom they were given the first name and first initial of the last name.

    The patients, meanwhile, were split into three groups of about 600 apiece: those who knew they were being prayed for, those who were prayed for but only knew it was a possibility, and those who weren't prayed for but were told it was a possibility.

    The study looked for any complications within 30 days of the surgery. Results showed no effect of prayer on complication-free recovery. Zero. No connection whatsoever. In other words, yet another scientifically rigorous study found prayer to be useless. There has NEVER been one that found that it worked.

    Finally, the horrors of the terrorist attacks of 9-11 are probably still very familiar to most people. The first plane hit the North Tower, entering the building on the 91st -98th floor. There were approximately 1300 people at or above the impact zone. You may recall the horrific sights of people jumping to their deaths. Indeed, one of the first firefighter casualties is believed to have been struck and killed by a jumping victim.

    Recordings reveal how virtually all of these 1300 odd victims prayed for help. Film shows jumpers blessing themselves before plunging to their deaths. And yet every single person on or above the 91st floor died. Many died horrific, painful, burning deaths as their prayers (and those of their loved ones on the ground) were ignored. Below the 90th floor, virtually everybody survived, whether they prayed or not.

    It is clear that prayers were, once again, shown to be utterly impotent and useless. A person’s chances of survival were dictated by something as random as their location in the building when the plane hit, not by whether they prayed.

    I would invite any Christian who still, despite ALL evidence to the contrary, believes that when they pray, a being that created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, reads their minds and will intervene to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to answer them, to consider the following.

    Line up every amputee in the World. There must be a few million. Pray to the Christian god that just one of them grows a new arm or leg and see what happens. We know the result. You could line up millions of Christians to pray their heart out for decades and not one limb would re-grow.

    Prayer will fail. It will fail 100% of the time – always and forever, for the simple and obvious reason that there is no (Hindu, Christian, Muslim or other) god there listening to you. It only ever “works” when the outcome was going to occur anyway, like a cancer going into remission, a person recovering from a serious, but curable illness, or a person below the 90th floor of the North Tower escaping the 9-11 disaster.

    It reminds me of the gambler who went to Vegas for the weekend. He decided to pray to God that a 4 would come up every time he rolled a die.

    Apparently God answered his prayer about once every six times -:)

    November 11, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Northstar8968

      Thank you, Colin, for the rational, common sense view. It amazes me that a major media publication like CNN would even run an article asking seriously where God was during a natural disaster. The answer is: where he always is during disasters and millennia filled with senseless death, cruelty, violence and random suffering. Nowhere.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Nina

      God answers us with his own idea of what he thinks is right. Sometimes God doesn't always give us what we want...remember he wills everything. Don't people see that he is making bad things happen so we can all come together for the good of all humanity? What happend on 9/11, everyone came together even if it was black or white or indian. Do you know why? Because we all forgot for that moment that we were different. So you see that is what God wants and how else do we do this, because we don't do it on our own. Peace to everyone!

      November 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • Colin

        So, God murdered 3,000 in the terrorist attcks to "bring people together" hey? A simple admonition from the sky would have sufficed. It never ceases to amaze me who Christians can warp facts to fit their obscure beliefs.

        November 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
        • Average Joe

          Man murdered, God heals.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • AE

          That's right, Joe.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • G to the T

          If you knew someone was going to murder someone else, but did nothing about it, what would that make you?

          November 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        'What happend on 9/11, everyone came together even if it was black or white or indian. '

        and immediately started hating muslims or anyone that looked like an Arab. Declared war on 2 countries and hundreds of thousands died. What was the lesson again?

        November 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
      • Ann

        This kind of "reasoning" makes my head spin.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
      • Observer

        Nina

        "Don't people see that he is making bad things happen so we can all come together for the good of all humanity?"

        Try telling that to the 10,000 people, 90% Christians, who died a horrible death.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • humanistJohn420

      I am stealing that to post on my FB account....giving you credit of course.

      November 11, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  19. Nick

    OMG are you SERIOUS?!

    GOD as you claim DOES NOT EXIST! HE DOES NOT WATCH OVER US PUNISHING THE EVIL AND PROTECTING THE GOOD!

    GROW UP!

    HOLY COW

    November 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Nina

      Sorry you feel like that, God Bless you!

      November 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Nina, why are you sorry? What did you do???

        November 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  20. observe

    death is a release, a graduation to glory

    November 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Reality

      minds already altered, without the drugs? Sad.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • G to the T

      Here's your diploma then – good luck with that!

      November 12, 2013 at 12:50 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.