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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. lol??

    Just a cover up. Focus on natural disasters and you won't think about the socie killing.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  2. boredofceleb

    BTW–and this will be my last post here–these "faith" articles are only CNN's agenda to incite/spark vitriol and hatred between "believers and non-believers". NOONE can prove or disprove the existence or non-existence of a deity. Therefore, these comments are just a waste of time–unless you are in the mood to vent for some reason. Better to spend time on articles and matters of real substance.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      buh-bye ...

      November 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  3. Bonnie

    We are not supposed to question God why things happen. We are just supposed to keep our faith and trust in him. It really is that simple. We don't see any multi million dollar lottery winners asking God why they won. People can't have it both ways.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      If you think there is a God and he/it has anything to do with Lottery winners or deadly storms then you are a certifiable nutcase.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      if that were the case, what is the point of intercessory prayer, or evangelism?

      November 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
      • Dandy Dizmore

        Exactly.....

        November 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        exactly!!!

        November 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
      • Noelle

        There is no point to those things you mentioned. Evangelism is a crock and used to raise money. Ever wonder why all these evangelists live in gorgeous homes and drive luxury cars? It's because of foolish people with the mentality of a sheep who give 10% or more of their earnings to "God". Why would "God" need money anyway? Someone please answer that question for me.

        November 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  4. angel

    If you're reading this and Atheist, why do you all talk about God when you don't believe He even exists? This question has perplexed me for years. I do not believe in Buddha, but then, I do not blame Buddha when bad things happen. and so on.

    I believe if we could understand God and His ways, He wouldn't be God, that would make Him human like us. He does not work or think like we do, I don't know why. I just trust Him. I've seen His evident hand in my life, he saved me from a car accident that should have killed me. I don't know why. I would much rather be in heaven honestly. But He did, and I know one day I will understand. There will be no more tears, pain, loss or sadness and the world will see.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      i don't know of any atheist who blames "god" for anything

      November 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      angel: how many theists (let's use christians for an example) claim to know god's ways and god's words?

      November 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Fan2C

      angel
      "If you're reading this and Atheist, why do you all talk about God when you don't believe He even exists?"

      Atheists do not believe in a god or gods. Believers *do* exist, however, and they do and say some really silly, superst.itious things that affect society.

      Be perplexed no more.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      infantile slave mind

      November 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'If you're reading this and Atheist, why do you all talk about God when you don't believe He even exists? This question has perplexed me for years. I do not believe in Buddha, but then, I do not blame Buddha when bad things happen. and so on. '

      And atheists do not blame god when these things happen, they merely point to believers that want to claim god controls everything to justify why the event does not tally with their claim of a loving and merciful god.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "he saved me from a car accident that should have killed me. I don't know why."

      To make that assumption you must also assume that God could help save anyone in a life threatening sittuation. So why did he save you and not the three year old that ran into the street or the young children that starved to death or the countless other innocents that die every day? The simple answer is that he did not save you. Random chance and unforseen occurence allowed you to live. Now how about using that life for something more meaningful than whining about how some invisible being "saved you" while at the same time apparently doesn't give a rat shlt about brown people and those who live in thrid world countries.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • angel

        I said I didn't know the answer. I am NOT GOD. But I trust Him. I'm free and rejoice in my sufferings knowing one day they will be no more. My Jesus is coming back, and He will still have mercy on those who hate Him. I am not angry, you seem to be. That is a sad state to live in.

        November 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
        • G to the T

          Christians sure seem to use the word "hate" alot (and "spew" now that I think of it). I've reread the statement above and cannot detect any hate or anger implied. Can you point out the hate or is that just a knee-jerk reaction based on what you've been told about atheists?

          November 13, 2013 at 9:34 am |
      • angel

        also – don't spew hate at someone you don't know. I am brown and live in a third world country, we have wi-fi 🙂

        November 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
        • Fan2C

          angel,
          ". I am brown and live in a third world country, we have wi-fi"

          Good for wi-fi! Now you can be exposed to all sorts of new information - real things; not supersti.ous fantasies (although you'll still find plenty of them online too; beware).

          You learned at least one thing today (I hope) - why atheists talk about this "God" character. Hopefully you won't be asking that one again. I wish you well on your journey to reality.

          November 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  5. Steve Garing

    Man has made it very clear that we do not want God on our earth. The first time, the first man and woman chose to follow God's enemy rather than God. The second time, we whipped him, nailed him to a cross until his body was dead and said, 'Now do you get it? We don't want you here!" Every one of us has told him to leave us alone so many times, when he finally does, people are surprised?

    November 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • sam stone

      gosh, steve, you sure seem to believe you speak for god

      i suggest you seek help of a mental health professional

      if your god would do this because some people reject "him{", "he" is a petty, vindictive pr1ck

      free will and an omniscient god are incompatible

      November 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      and, man is the one who created god, and satan and heaven and hell

      all man made mythology

      November 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  6. Phil

    The Bible doesn’t teach that God is behind the natural disasters we see today. God’s judgments as described in the Bible are quite different from natural disasters.

    1-God is selective. The Bible says: “Man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.”—1 Samuel 16:7.

    2-Jehovah reads the hearts of individuals and destroys only those he deems wicked.—Genesis 18:23-32.

    3-God sends warnings first, thereby giving those who listen to him the opportunity to escape.

    Natural disasters, on the other hand, strike with little or no warning, and they kill and maim indiscriminately. To some extent, mankind has made such disasters worse by damaging the natural environment and by building in areas prone to earthquakes, floods, and extreme weather.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Neo Agnostic

      Nonsense.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      phil: your god is a punk.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • chollman82

      God doesn't exist.

      November 11, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • G to the T

      You seem to be ignoring the book of Job. Yahweh (as described in the bible) most certainly is in charge of natural disasters.

      November 13, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  7. boredofceleb

    Maybe Pat Robertson whill claim that the Fillipinos had a pact with the devil (like the Haitians) and that this was divine retribution. That guy is a complete nutjob! Can't wait to hear what he comes up with..

    November 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Ed

      700 Club has an office in the Philippines. they have been helping for more than a decades. Even now they are sending help to the victims. God works in the heart of man to move him to do good works. Action speaks louder than words

      November 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
      • boredofceleb

        Then he should just "act" and keep his mouth shut.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
      • are you sure

        Pat was already caught using church funds (meant for starving Africans) to fund his personal diamond-mining operations in Africa. Can you explain that to us? Did you even know it? How do you know Pat doesn't have some mining operations or Tropical hardwood lumber operations in the Phillipines that he is diverting funds to once again? You don't know that. Why are you claiming it just because you want to believe it?

        November 11, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  8. Just a mormon

    There is a purpose to our existence. We lived with God as His spirit children before we came here. We are here in order to gain a body, a family, and to learn and progress. We learn through experience, trials, hardships, service, etc... We will return to Him again with the knowledge we have gained here. We live in a mortal world. Some of our trials come through our own bad choices, some come through the choices of others, and some just happen because of the mortal world we live in. We must trust in God and know that no matter what, everything we experience in this life can make us better and more prepared for whatever He has planned for us after this life. How we react to the suffering of others can bring us closer to God. Death, though terribly sad for those of us left behind, is simply a return to that Father that gave us life.
    If you don't believe any of this just ask God, with sincerity, if this is true. That is His way (James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.") I have asked, and I know now that it is true. No amount of logic, or angry discourse could ever change my mind because He let me know that it is true and I trust Him more than anyone. If you want more information about any of this find some mormon missionaries and ask them.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Fan2C

      "If you don't believe any of this just ask God, with sincerity, if this is true"

      And who else that you DON'T BELIEVE IN have you asked stuff with sincerity? Allah? Thor? Quetzalcoatl? Puff the Magic Dragon?

      Believe whatever fantasy you like, just don't claim it as fact.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
      • chollman82

        Amen... ra

        November 11, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Phil

      "We lived with God as His spirit children before we came here"

      Not true:

      John 3:13 – "Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but the one who descended from heaven, the Son of man. ( Jesuse)

      November 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      ' No amount of logic, or angry discourse could ever change my mind because He let me know that it is true and I trust Him more than anyone.'

      yeah, that tells us all we need to know.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
      • chollman82

        Agreed.

        November 11, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
        • dillonb1950

          hahahahahahah...obvioulsy he didn't get it.....hahahahahah

          November 11, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
  9. djp

    Sam Harris as quoted in the article shuld consider he has missed a key alternative besides that "God is either impotent, evil or imaginary". God has created the Earth and its people. God has granted us free will and that includes the consequences of that free will. I do not mean punishment for actions although He can chose that as needed by His will. I mean that things like global warming if you buy into that as a possible cause of events like this and that human actions contribute to gloabl warming there you have the consequences of free will as an example.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • chollman82

      No intelligent person believes in libertarian free will. What do you know about "free will", have you ever studied the topic? Do you know the difference conceptions of free will, the arguments for and against each? Do you know what the dilemma of determinism is? Do you know that only 13% of professional philosophers believe in free will of the type you are talking about? Even fewer neuroscientists do...

      November 11, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  10. Maddy

    I am the way, the truth, the life.

    He who has seen me has seen god almighty.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you look nothing like him. hes taller and has a bushy beard.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  11. Phil

    The Bible doesn’t teach that God is behind the natural disasters we see today. God’s judgments as described in the Bible are quite different from natural disasters.

    God is selective. The Bible says: “Man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.”—1 Samuel 16:7.
    Jehovah reads the hearts of individuals and destroys only those he deems wicked.—Genesis 18:23-32.
    God sends warnings first, thereby giving those who listen to him the opportunity to escape.

    Natural disasters, on the other hand, strike with little or no warning, and they kill and maim indiscriminately. To some extent, mankind has made such disasters worse by damaging the natural environment and by building in areas prone to earthquakes, floods, and extreme weather.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • G to the T

      The book of Job certainly says otherwise. Better read up...

      November 13, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  12. Apple Bush

    Challenge God

    You will try to take it away from me;
    You will change the way it feels and smells;

    You will change its size to confuse me;
    You will change its color.

    I will keep it.
    I will not be deceived or cheated.
    I will not lose my sense and be a victim.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  13. Neo Agnostic

    There is no "god" that was why he wasnt there.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  14. JScott

    The thing about nature is that it doesn't believe in God, so it does whatever it wants, to whomever, at any time. We humans have even created Rain Gods, Sun Gods and Wind Gods but nature doesn't listen to any of them.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  15. Apple Bush

    I am your Lord
    Tell me that you want me
    But don’t
    Tell me that you need me
    But please don’t
    Tell me that you can’t live without me
    You already are

    November 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  16. boborama

    Atheism did not save the atheists in the disaster area either. They too died in the same proportion as the rest of the population. What did their belief do for them ? Nothing.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Observer

      boborama,

      Yep. It made no difference if you believed in God or not. Just what atheists say.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • boborama

        so you agree atheism is useless

        November 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
        • JimNasium

          You're confused. Atheism is not a belief, it's a lack of belief. If atheists believed that being atheists would grant them special life/death privileges then they wouldn't be atheists, they'd be religious.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'so you agree atheism is useless'

          as something to pray too in order to be saved, sure.....the same as every religion in that regards

          November 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • sam stone

          boborama: atheists do not claim that their atheism can save them

          are you a troll, or just incredibly dumb?

          November 11, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • boborama

          @Sam stone
          Why do you argue for atheism when you yourself admit that it's useless ?

          November 11, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
        • boborama

          @JimNasium
          So you believe in nothing ? What's the point of that ?
          What do you teach kids ? Nothing ?
          What is the meaning of your life ? Nothing ?
          What should people do to help the victims ? Nothing ?

          Atheism seems so full of nothing.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • Bob

          boborama, how is the obviously false Christian doctrine any better? I think that the delusion that you attempt to sustain is worse than atheism, because the Christian delusion is both dishonest and cowardly.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
        • boborama

          @Bob

          What is most amazing is that the Christian belief in a non-existent God has produced the likes of Mother Teresa who help people. Atheism is based on "proven" things, but has not produced anything like Mother Teresa. So in that sense, it's obvious to see which product is more useful. Atheists seem to love hurling insults but cannot produce a book of their beliefs nor produce good works as required by their beliefs.

          All the insults hurled from Atheists. But still nothing useful and no proof of teachings.

          November 11, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          bobo
          What teachings could there be...atheism is simply NOT believing in gods..that is it.

          A baby is born...it does not believe in any gods...it needs to be taught about whatever gods are pertenant in the family and region.

          One does not need to be taught to be an atheist. It is the default.

          You don't believe in Zues...so you are an atheist.
          You don't believe in Quetzlcoatl...you are an atheist...see how it works...no teaching, just NOT believing.

          November 11, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
        • superman

          boborama: Let me try to explain yo this atheism thing. Say you are walking down the street and are approached by a man in a Superman's costume. And he tells you "I am the real Superman". Now, it would be nice if that was true. Right? Having such a force to protect good people from bad people. But you the guy is either lying or is crazy and just keep walking. There is no apparent benefit in not believing the guy, but you still don't because it is ridiculous.
          That is how atheists feel when people like you start talking about god.

          November 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • ME II

      1) Atheism is not a belief, for many Atheists it is a lack of belief in god(s).
      2) No Atheist ever claimed that Atheism saved anyone from anything, except belief in god(s).

      November 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • boborama

      @JimNasium

      So what's the point of a non-belief ?
      Dogs & cats don't believe anything either.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        There isn't a 'point' to non-belief, its simply a disbelief in supernatural deities.

        November 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
        • boborama

          So it's a pointless belief ? as in useless ?

          There are a lot of religious organizations that at least help people. Atheism seems useless given that you argue that it's pointless.

          November 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'So it's a pointless belief ? as in useless ?'
          when it comes to praying for someone to save you, sure.

          'There are a lot of religious organizations that at least help people. Atheism seems useless given that you argue that it's pointless.'
          how are you even making the comparison? because atheism is no good for prayer atheists dont help people? how are you even making that 'logic' (and i use the word loosely in this case) leap?

          November 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
        • boborama

          If person X helps person Y because X believes in something called "H" then he should teach about the goodness and benefits of "H". This is not possible with Atheism because atheism does NOT teach anything. It does not require anything. Therefore, if an atheist does some good work, then he better explain why he does it, because the reality is that atheism does not promote nor require good works. Said atheist must be doing it for some other belief "H"; not atheism.

          November 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          bobo
          You clearly do not understand atheism, or morality for that matter.

          You do know that the two largest philanthropists in 2012 were two atheists , right?
          Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg, with Bill Gates (agnostic) close behind, righ?. Not churches, not religious people.

          To think that morality is somehow tied to a belief in a concept with no evidence to support it is just plain silly.

          November 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
        • G to the T

          Bobo – you are comparing "atheism" (an answer to specific question) to "religion" this is an apples/organges comparision. The more accurate comparision would be "atheism" and "theism" or possible "deism". If you want to argue at the organizational level (i.e. "religion") then you should look to non-religious charitable organizations (of which there are many) for your source of comparison.

          Hope that helps.

          November 13, 2013 at 9:42 am |
      • ME II

        The point in non-belief is not believing in things that are not true. That would seem self-evident.

        November 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
        • boborama

          Given that atheists have not pointed to a comprehensive moral system and cannot point to producing thousands of people like Mother Teresa who help the poor & sick, then you're correct. Atheism has no proof of being useful.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          bobo

          Many have pointed you to one...you just won't accept what you were given. The morals were the morals men had that evolved especially in mammals, passed down, and eventually were written into your book.

          Why do you think it is moral for you to allow another to take your punishment?

          November 11, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
        • boborama

          @Cranium
          Where is your book ? Where is your Mother Teresa ? What have YOU done ?

          squat

          November 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          bobo
          Your book tells you not to bear false witness, which is exactly what you are doing when you claim I have done squat. You do not know that and it is a lie, since I do many things to help my community. You are just a liar, and you violated one of your top 10 no-nos according to your book.

          clearly you have not read your book properly since you are so immoral as to violate your book while trying to discuss morality...how ironic.

          November 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
        • ME II

          @boborama,
          "Where is your book ? Where is your Mother Teresa ? What have YOU done ?"

          You misunderstand. Atheism is not a belief system, you need something else for that, such as Secular Humanism. What philosophy an individual Atheist follows in their choice, but has little to do with Atheism.

          November 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • JScott

      Your complete inability to think rationally and outside of your own beliefs highlights the problem with most religious adherents. Your argument makes zero sense. None. I am not saying this because I disagree with you, because there is nothing to disagree with. You have said nothing basically. I sincerely hope you can understand why you have made a nonsensical statement. Read the other replies to your statement, maybe do some objective research, and actually sit and think about this.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
      • boborama

        There is empirical evidence. Christians have a book that describes their comprehensive belief system. They produce thousands of people like Mother Teresa. Atheism cannot do either of the two. Simple evidence. Objective. Undisputed.

        Atheism = nothing.

        November 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          stop with the lies bobo
          The bible is not imperical evidence of the claims of the bible. That is a lie, since it requires circluar ( and thereby false) logic.

          There are many books that make many claims...yours is no different. Man-made, full of flaws, errors, contradictions.

          By the way...do you believe in Zeus, odin, Ra, Ja?...no???? atheist
          You ar an atheist about all the others, we just took the logic one step further.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
        • boborama

          @Cranium
          You miss the point.
          It's very simple.
          They have a book. Atheism does not.
          When there's a book, then it can be studied for goodness or badness. They have a book that can be studied. Atheism does not. You can criticize them because they have something you can read. You have nothing that can be read or analyzed. That's one advantage of being atheist. You cannot be wrong because you have no book that can be reviewed and proven wrong.

          In short Atheism has no book of beliefs.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          How sad you need a book to tell you how to be a civil minded member of society.

          If someone never saw your book, they would most likely have a strong moral compass as most mamals do and all social animals do. If they follow your book, they must make an immoral decision in order to adhere to your book.

          Your book is insignificant and completely unnecessary for morality.

          November 11, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • chollman82

      okay... that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. No atheist would have claimed that they would be saved... they accept that weather is weather and it just happens.

      November 11, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
  17. Mary McNeill Chase

    God WAS there, that is why there are SURVIVORS!!!!

    November 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • derp

      So he murders 10,000 people and he is still awesome for sparing some people. Religious people are amazingly stupid.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
      • lol??

        Well, just pass a law making "God murders" illegal.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • i cant hear u

        Yep. You can only 'beee-leeeve' if you are living in denial. It's like children who put their fingers in their ears and say la, la-la-la-la... I can't hear you....

        November 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'God WAS there, that is why there are SURVIVORS!!!!'

      he just hated the ones that died so didnt save them?

      November 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Neo Agnostic

      Thats like saying that when you destroy a building, the fact that a wall is still standing is a miracle.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • JScott

      Is this a serious comment?

      November 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
      • chollman82

        It's a perfect example of Poe's law... religious people are so damn stupid it's often impossible to distinguish satire of their beliefs from their actual beliefs.

        November 11, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Fan2C

      Ah, but the dead are the ones who got to go to eternal bliss. The survivors should actually be real disappointed!

      November 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  18. Colin

    I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend (November 10, 2013 Page C-2, by Robert Sapolsky) about the conspiracy theory kooks who believe things like the US Government being behind 9-11 or that there are alien bodies hidden by the government at “Area 51” near Roswell, New Mexico. These people have a number of things in common.

    (i) they concentrate their views 100% on what they see as weaknesses in the accepted view. They have little or no interest in evaluating the evidence supporting their own, alternative view. For example, a 9-11 conspiracy theorist will say something like, “well, how do you explain how the first plane hit the North Tower, but the South Tower collapsed first.” They offer no evidence to support their own view of a US government conspiracy. They are happy to jump straight to that conclusion based on perceived weaknesses in other theories alone.

    (ii) they are more likely to believe in other conspiracy or nutty theories- those who think the government is behind 9-11 are more likely to think Elvis is still alive, to deny global climate change or to believe that a large primate, “bigfoot” lives in the North-West of the USA.

    I can add two other observations that Sapolsky doesn’t (need to) make:

    (iii) evidence against their view is summarily dismissed but that in favor of it is blindly accepted without question. This is why you will see photo-shopped photos all over the internet of “explosions” of demolition charges just before the towers fell. The fact that the steel girders supporting the structure melted and weakened in the 800+ degree jet fuel fire after the event are dismissed out of hand (everybody knows steel doesn’t burn).

    (iv) They ignore the sheer enormity of what they are claiming – a government conspiracy to kill thousands of innocent people, requiring thousands of conspiring people to be involved, years in the making and not one person speaks up, for example; or how 19 Muslim terrorists just happened to be on the 4 planes.

    The parallels with your average Christian are quite startling.

    (i) I would love a dollar for every Christian who believes in the Bible because science has not, in their mind, developed a sufficient explanation for either the origins of life on Earth or the origins of the Universe. Their thinking goes like this, “Scientists cannot explain every aspect of how complex life might have arisen from less complex biological molecules, [perceived weakness on one theory] therefore, [and here comes the leap over to their theory] I believe the Judeo-Christian God did it.” When pushed for what evidence they have to support their theory, they are totally confused. Most have never even thought it through. Just because you don’t think “the butler did it” doesn’t mean the cook did, unless you have evidence of that fact. That they have no evidence whatsoever to support the Bible’s claim that the Judeo-Christian God created the Universe or was responsible for life arising on Earth has never even occurred to them.

    (ii) Many Christians also believe in a lot of other supernatural hogwash, even (as the Wall Street Journal article points out that conspiracy theorists do) where the other supernatural belief is inconsistent with their own. Hence, many Christians believe in ghosts, although Christianity has no room for dead people still inhabiting the Earth –they are in heaven, hell or some other magic after death kingdom. They also believe, quite often, in UFOs, astrology, people having “auras,” plants feeling pain, ESP, mind reading and a host of other utter garbage.

    (iii) You can also see regular rejections of even the most obvious evidence against their view and the blind acceptance of anything that supports their view. Don’t believe me? Get into a discussion with Tropher or any other creationist on this blog. Their ability to ignore or explain away inconvenient facts and the “evidence” they blindly accept to support their own view is breathtaking. Stuff a fifth grader would see through. Even more rational Christians exhibit this flaw in logic. Ask them who wrote the 4 gospels and you will get a Sunday school answer about the apostles Matthew and John, and Mark and Luke, companions of Peter and Paul respectively, even though biblical scholars have known for over 200 years, based on almost irrefutable evidence, that this is not the case.

    (iv) the sheer implausibility of what they claim. Some essential claims of Christianity are– and I will not misquote or exaggerate here; (A) that a being powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions upon billions of galaxies – each with hundreds of billions of stars and planets – monitors the thoughts and actions of all 7 billion human beings on this one planet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for their entire lives, so he can then decide whether they deserve eternal punishment or reward in an afterlife; (B) about 2,000 years ago, having waited 13,700,000,000 years after creating the Universe, this being impregnated a Greco-Roman Jewish virgin with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could grotesquely murder and sacrifice himself to himself, so that he himself could forgive the original sin of a couple we now all know never existed; (C) while down here on Earth, this cosmic visitor says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to suggest he is a god, such as “disease is caused by tiny organisms. Wash your hands and bath open wounds in alcohol.” Or “There are seven continents, four of which are yet to be discovered and one of which is covered in ice.” Instead, he spends his entire time talking to Greco-Roman Jews about sheep and goats, wheat and chaff; (D) this god also left us with his book, the Bible. During the 500 odd years that the Bible was written, Earth’s population went from about 170 million to 200 million, give or take. There were people all throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, the British Isles, Europe, Russia, China, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Ja.pan, Australia, and North and South America. And yet, the entire Bible is focused on the late Bronze Age Jews and their enemies!! 99.99% of the human race doesn’t even rate a mention, let alone a visit !! No black people, white people, yellow people or red people get a visit – just a few brown people in Greco-Roman Palestine. It is obvious beyond any sane doubt that the Jews created God in their image and not vice-versa.

    The sheer enormity, gross self-interest and utter implausibility of these claims does not seem to concern them in the slightest.

    Perhaps, when all is said and done, Christians are simply conspiracy theorists with a very popular conspiracy to promote. They certainly exhibit many of the same personality traits.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • boborama

      Truths of the Universe:

      Christians cannot prove that God exists.
      Atheists cannot prove they have a moral system that is as comprehensive as the one written by 12 uneducated fishermen.
      Fishermen can point to a published book. Atheists cannot.

      Atheists believe whatever they want.
      Atheists hate that Christians have beliefs of their own.

      Christianity, based on myth, has produced Mother Teresa and hundreds like her who treat people with AIDS, Ebola, TB, etc.
      Atheism, based on reality and humanism, has produced squat.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • Colin

        "Atheists cannot prove they have a moral system that is as comprehensive as the one written by 12 uneducated fishermen."

        And what would that be?

        November 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • boborama

          so where is your moral system ?
          cat got your tongue ?
          you can't point to anything can you ?

          November 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • Colin

          So boborama, agaiin, what was that moral code "written by 12 uneducated fishermen." You haven't got an answer have you?

          November 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          False assumption bobo

          I get it from the same place as everyone. from our animal ancestors that we descended from. Animals have language, create cultures, and don't run around killing each other as a matter of course. They create societies and co-operate.
          Even rats will assist a fellow rat in a trap, even if the rat does not know the other.

          Why do you think you need to believe in any gods to have morality...false assumption.

          Why do christians think they have ANY morality when the first thing they need to do to be a christian is immoral...letting another take their just punishment...why do you think that is acceptible?

          November 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • boborama

          @Colin

          So you haven't heard of their bible ? That's their belief system.
          Governments have their laws on books.
          What does atheism have ?
          We're waiting for an answer

          November 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • boborama

          @Cranium
          Did your animal ancestors learn how to write ?
          If so, where is there set of morals written down or published ?

          November 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          bobo
          Now you are just being silly.
          do you think writing them down makes the morality more real?

          Before the men who created the bible wrote them into the stories, but they existed long before those men wrote them in and created your religion. God didn't give men anything that we can see...we can see it in the other animals, and we find common threads in DNA.

          All you have is a man made book, and a man-made god, just like the other thousands of gods.

          You still didn't address the basic immorality that all christians do...why not?

          November 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • boborama

          @Cranium
          You are in no position to talk about morality. Atheism has no moral teachings.
          This is why atheists can never be immoral and can never commit a sin.
          Your question does not make sense.

          The truth is still undisputed. Christians believe in a non-existent God and they have produced thousands of people who help poor & sick people all over the world. Atheism does not have a comprehensive moral system to which atheists can point. Atheism does not teach helping people, hence has shown not to produce people who help poor & sick people. Christianity is useful; atheism is use less.

          Quit being argu mentative & just show proof.

          November 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • boborama

          @Cranium

          Christianity has a man-made book. This was created by uneducated fishermen.
          Modern day educated atheists are unable to create their own man-made book of morals. How hard can it be if uneducated fishermen can write one of their own ?

          Perhaps there is indeed a God because how can this situation be possible ? I'm not saying there is a God. I'm just laughing at the notion that highly educated people cannot write one simple book about their comprehensive moral system. Perhaps because they don't actually have a comprehensive moral system.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
        • brainwashed christians

          "I'm just laughing at the notion that highly educated people cannot write one simple book about their comprehensive moral system."

          So there are no written laws in the town where you live?

          November 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          bobo
          My proof is my life. I am an atheist, yet I volunteer at a local chemical dependancy clinic ( run by a minister), and I practice random acts of kindness, AND I am not immoral enough to allow someone else to take my just punishment.

          You cannot say the same, and if you are a christian, you are by definition immoral.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
      • Neo Agnostic

        I find it funny how people like you seem to think to know what atheists are about an know. But a lot of atheists who were once religious know what religions is about and know what they are talking about. Unless you are an atheist you have no understanding what they are thinking.
        As for atheists having produced squat, just look around, a lot of the science and technology you use every day was created and developed by atheists.

        November 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • lol??

          Gnuthin' gnew about gnostics. ".....................who were once religious know what religions is about and know what they are talking about........................"

          November 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • boborama

          You mean like China and North Korea ? They are very good atheists.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        'Atheists cannot prove they have a moral system that is as comprehensive as the one written by 12 uneducated fishermen. Fishermen can point to a published book. Atheists cannot.'

        Wait, you actually think 12 uneducated fishermen wrote the bible? seriously? Not even biblical scholars believe that.

        'Atheists hate that Christians have beliefs of their own.'

        No, sorry but you are bearing false witness there. We dont care that christians, or any followers of supernatural beings, have beliefs of their own. We just dont like when they try to push that belief on others.

        'Christianity, based on myth, has produced Mother Teresa and hundreds like her who treat people with AIDS, Ebola, TB, etc. Atheism, based on reality and humanism, has produced squat.'

        What has the belief system of someone have on what they produce? Unless you happen to know the belief system of every scientist, humanitarian etc that has lived then you cannot make that claim.
        Heck you are dangerously close to bearing false witness again. Thats twice in one post and you know thats a huge no-no.

        November 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
        • boborama

          so where is your moral system ?
          cat got your tongue ?
          you can't point to anything can you ?

          What have you done for the world ?
          squat

          November 11, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'boborama
          so where is your moral system ?
          cat got your tongue ?
          you can't point to anything can you ?

          What have you done for the world ?
          squat'

          you know when you ask a question it is customary to await an answer before claiming 'cat got your tongue'.

          My morality comes from my upbringing and my my decisions based on the life I lead. Every person creates their own morality and it varies wildly. Some ideas spring out of experience, some spring out of necessity, others out of self-protection.

          And what I have or have not done for the world is irrelevant to the point you tried to claim that 'atheists have done squat'.
          There is a huge majority that you would have difficultly pointing out if they had done anything significant for the world, and I suspect you would be in the majority.

          By the way, you know revilers, or haters, are barred from heaven right? not my words you understand, it was something your '12 uneducated fishermen' apparently came up with.

          November 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • boborama

          @cedar rapids

          It's a matter of choosing useful & productive beliefs. Christianity is useful. Atheism is not.

          History taught us that atheists threw Christians to the lions. Atheism does not teach love. So it's not clear why you talk about hate. Since you demand proof from Christians but do not show proof yourself, sounds to me like you hate them.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
        • brainwashed christians

          Atheism is simply a lack of belief in god. Try and wrap your tiny mind around that.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
      • Joey

        Medical schoosl have produced a lot of people who cure those diseases, and a lot of them are atheists. Of course even Christian docotrs go to medical school so in the end I'm not sure how Christianity had anything at all to do with it.

        November 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
        • boborama

          @Joey
          It's not clear how atheism is better than Christianity either. Christianity teaches people to care. Atheism does not. Atheism does not prohibit murder.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  19. Apple Bush

    Go now and tell the fools the truth of their misplaced worship.
    Speak loudly that religion is the true great evil on this Earth.
    This Evil affects every plant and animal the Mother gave us.
    Tell them and care not if they are vulgar, for you are the light.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  20. the dude

    Zeus had nothing to do with this typhoon. It was Poseidon.

    and we all know that Poseidon does not like blasphemers or polluters. so it stands to reason that this destruction is the fault of the imaginary gods... yup.. they did it.

    seriously people? grow up and realize that myths do not exist.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.