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Sermon on the Strip: ‘Where is God?’

Buddhist monks at Chaiya Meditation Monastery offer prayers for the victims on Oct. 8, a week after the mass shooting in Las Vegas. RNS photo by Kimberly Winston

LAS VEGAS (RNS) — The title of the senior pastor’s first sermon since the mass shooting was a question many people struggled with all week.

“Where is God in the midst of tragedy?”


RELATED: In Las Vegas as before, spontaneous shrines bring healing after horror


Three different video screens inside Hope Church projected it in white letters superimposed on a gray image of some of the city’s biggest hotels. Below the screens, hundreds of congregants followed Senior Pastor Vance Pitman in search of an answer.

“We always know we need God,” he said, walking back and forth by an elevated slender podium, a microphone headset catching his every word. “But if there ever was a week when we really know we need God, this has been that week.”

Hope Church in Las Vegas, where the pastor gave a sermon on Oct. 8, 2017, about the mass shooting that occurred a week earlier. RNS photo by Kimberly Winston

Seven days ago — though most people here said it felt much longer — Stephen Paddock shot hundreds of people from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel before shooting himself. Fifty-eight people were killed — most of them tourists — and almost 500 were wounded.

In the intervening time, there have been calls for unity and calls for information as investigators still have no real insight into Paddock’s motives. There have been outpourings of donations and frustrations as everyone in this city — both residents and those passing through — seek some reason behind the chaos of last Sunday night.


RICHARD MOUW: You have been warned, Pat Robertson!


At the evangelical Hope Church, prayer was part of the answer. While electronic praise music thrummed, people bowed their heads and asked God to heal their community and to bring peace to the victims and their families.

“Evil may put up its strongest fight,” Pitman said, his words made all the more powerful by his Southern cadence. “But the cross has the final word.”

There were amens all around and the words from Psalm 46 were projected overhead:

God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear … 

On Saturday (Oct. 7), Jewish worshippers confronted the same questions at Temple Sinai, a Reform synagogue on the opposite side of town.

In the synagogue’s courtyard, under the palm frond roof of a temporary shelter known as a sukkah — part of Judaism’s annual Festival of Tabernacles — Rabbi Malcolm Cohen led a discussion of the Torah reading for the holiday, which includes Exodus 34.

In it, God promises he will be faithful, Cohen said. God promises he will bestow his lovingkindness to thousands of generations. He promises he is with us.

The Torah is read at Temple Sinai in Las Vegas, where the rabbi spoke on Oct. 8, 2017, about the mass shooting that occurred a week earlier. RNS photo by Kimberly Winston

“And yet you can’t get away from the fact that this city has been in the heart of a tragedy this week,” the rabbi continued. “How does God bring us out of the darkness?”

One white-haired woman in a blue shirt with gold studs around the neckline spoke up. “Why would God make a man think about doing that? Why would God let that happen?”

Cohen, his shoulders weary-looking under his white prayer shawl, turned to Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 9,  handing out sheets fresh from the Xerox machine.

“Go, eat your bread in gladness, and drink your wine in joy,” he read aloud. “Whatever it is in your power to do, do it with all your might.”

Putting the paper down, the rabbi went on. “What we saw Sunday night was a tragedy. But we don’t know how much time we have been given on this planet, and we must make the best use of it. We must do what it is in our power to do and do it with passion.”

The woman with the blue shirt considered and then said, “Yes, but rabbi, that is hard.”

The rabbi agreed. And then he led the group in singing another section of Kohelet (Chapter 3), this one made famous by folk singer Pete Seeger and the band the Byrds.

To everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

The song died away to reveal the sound of a congregant weeping. Then there were blessings and a promise to meet again next week.

The desire to understand evil was not limited to Jewish and Christian congregations in Las Vegas.

On Sunday, at Chaiya Meditation Monastery, a compound of red and golden temples and buildings in the middle of another suburban part of the city, there were age-old Buddhist prayers for the dead.

About 40 members of the Laotian, Burmese, Thai and Sri Lankan community prayed with nine robed monks who flanked a temporary altar shrine bearing images of every person who was killed.

“We pray for those who pass away from this terrible shooting,” Kyiaya, the temple’s master monk who is from Myanmar, said before the chanting began. “All we can do is ask the holy the special favor to listen.”

Then the gathered clasped their hands in prayer and chanted in unison, transferring what they call their “merits” — chanting, praying and donating — to the dead so they may have peace.

“We always do this when tragedy happens,” Tin Yee, a temple member also originally from Myanmar, said afterward. “We pray for them because they are innocent people. Everybody feels sorry for them, but what can we do? It has already happened. What we can do is pray for them, give blood, make donations.”

The prayers, which lasted about half an hour, are the same that are offered when a member of their temple dies.

“This makes them part of our community,” she said. “We have that same sorrow for them and it comes from the bottom of our hearts.”

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

145 Comments

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  • For those who reject both prayer and the concept of God, and who have repeatedly referred to me as a “kook” for my defense of theism, I am neither surprised nor chagrined by the utterly irrational responses rooted in anger that are coming from reputedly rational people. I applaud the expression of faith by my fellow Christians, by Jews, and by prayers from those of other faith traditions whose theology differs from my own. God is supremely creative and likely responsive in one fashion or another to the sincerely offered prayers of all. I am confident that He has a Plan that will be fulfilled beyond our present capacities to understand. I adhere to an interpretation of the Plan as illuminated in both Jewish and Christian scripture, but I don’t condemn or begrudge other’s their own opinions…that is not what God has called me to do, though He has called me to contend for the faith He delivered to me.

  • Why do tragedies happen? BEcause they do.

    Why did this tragedy happen? We don’t know. We may never know.

    We do know, however, that the desire of some people for weapons, for instruments of destruction, is far more important than the lives of their fellow citizens, so much they that they oppose any effort to get those weapons under control, lest they be inconvenienced.

  • If you consider the predictability of mass shootings in the US relative to other industrialized 1st world counties, there surely is an answer but it appears to be an elephant in the room..

  • Linda,
    The elephant in the room are God hating atheists who reject Judaeo-Christian moral values and embrace all manner of lies, sin and evil.

  • We do know, however, that the desire of some people for a good orgasm is far more important than the lives of their sex partners, so much that they oppose any effort to use a condom, lest they be inconvenienced.

  • 1 – The elephant in the room *is*

    2 – I know you won’t believe evidence unless it can be twisted to suit your preference but for those who are capable of working out what real numbers mean:-

    ………Murder rate per 1m population……………% population “not religious”
    United States…………(2010) 42.01……………(2014) 39%
    United Kingdom……..(2009) 11.68……………(2017) 53%
    Netherlands…………..(2009) 10.83……………(2014) 66%
    China……………………(2010) 10.02……………(2014) 90%
    Sweden………………..(2010) 9.70…………….(2014) 76%
    Norway…………………(2010) 5.93…………….(2006) 31-72%

    3 – atheists don’t hate god anymore than they hate any other fictitious entity – i.e. not at all.

    4 – Unlike Christianity, atheism does not have a cop-out for telling lies whereas “Lying-for-Jesus (and its Islamic cousin Taqiyya) are often used by religious people to justify being untruthful (such as saying “atheists hate God”)

    5 – The “Judeo-Christian moral values” you refer to are nothing of the sort. Those worth having (i.e. excluding the sexual/slavery/sacrifice etc. nonsenses) are human moral values which various religious groups have sought to claim (lied about) in order to further their own immoral pursuits.

  • “the first human couple rebelled against God’s rule, choosing to set their own standards of good and bad. They turned away from God and suffered the consequences. Today we are experiencing the effects of their bad choice.”

    No – it’s not refreshing – its pathetic.

    It’s just the standard whitewash – blaming a fictional couple for a non-existent, psychopathic deity’s bumbling incompetence.

    If you can stand back and view the God you’ve been taught to believe in without the assumptions you’ve been fed you’ll find that it’s not only unevidenced and unnecessary but also that the characteristics of that god are incompatible one with another, meaning that the deity you’ve been misinformed about is a rational impossibility.

    You then have two possibilities – honest agnostic atheism or bury your head in the sand and try to convince yourself that it all gets explained once you’re dead.

  • Off the top of my head

    Most likely – there is no hell

    alternatively – there is a hell but no god to send anyone there

    then – there is a hell and a god but that god is a reasonable deity and accepts that some people are unable to believe in him and that it would be immoral for him to send someone to hell who was unable to believe in him (whilst being perfectly reasonable to send believers who told lies there because they should have known better).

    honestly – I don’t care – the whole concept is so risible that no-one with a halfway decent brain and a bit of education should take it seriously – no-one.

  • Dear Givethedogabone,
    Atheists tend to reject the possibility of hell preferring instead to just “go black” and cease all consciousness and spiritual existence immediately after death. Remember this, “going black” is based on faith, there is no guarantee and no evidence that this actually happens.

    Hell is a very real possibility and on your last day you will know the truth. Hell and going black may essentially be the same thing and that is why atheists fear death.

  • The proof is overwhelming that Genesis is a work of fiction. No Adam or Eve 6,000 years ago. Hence no Adamic sin or need for redemption – which invalidates the foundation of Christianity.

  • The lack of brain waves or any electro-magnetic activity and our knowledge of the human body supports the ‘going black’ hypothesis. Yours is completely made up with no proof. No credible accounts from the hereafter. As far as atheists fearing death no study I’m aware of has been done.

  • You are wrong – whether through ignorance, desperation or wilful misrepresentation you are falsely describing atheists’ thoughts.

    There is no credible reason to believe in any form of existence beyond the one life we have and are currently living. – none whatsoever.

    “Going black” as you choose to describe it is not based on faith, it is based on logic and reason due to the absence of credible evidence to the contrary and the equally complete absence of any reason to suppose that “there must be something more”.

    Hell is not “a very real possibility” – hell, it isn’t even a slightly real possibility. It is the irrational consequence of fear, envy and childish superstitious belief.

    I don’t know how many atheists you have discussed this with but I know many and none fear death – we don’t want to die and we fear the pain that we may have prior to death, but death itself – no fear.

  • In order for “going black” to be logical and valid then everyone must go black and not only those who believe in it. Going black is based on faith and this is the hope of those who reject God. Right and wrong, good and evil, do not matter that much to someone who intends to go black.

  • Regarding the Las Vegas massacre, the Holocaust and uncountable other tragedies, either there is no deity or, if there is, he/she/it doesn’t care about such matters. What does matter is that we humans are responsible for our actions and we, all of us, need to do all we can to prevent or minimize these tragedies. Among the things we need to do is minimize the damage to our country and our planet being inflicted by the buffoon in the White House and his cronies.

  • The Bible refers to “going black” as the Second Death which does not occur immediately after the death of the body but later on after the Last Judgement.

  • It’s even sillier than that. The First Couple- perhaps their names were really Donald and IVanka– didn’t know the difference between good and evil because they hadn’t eaten of the fruit of the tree. So how could they know anything was wrong? Death was not a part of their lives, so how could they understand it? As for “choosing their own standards”– all we know is that they ate of the fruit of the tree, and that that weasel Adam tried to blame it all on eve. So that part about choosing their own standards is clearly made up…

    Or at least, more made up than all of the rest of it.

  • Absolutely.

    The same thing it true about heterosexuals who bring a new life into the world that they cannot afford and do not want. So the alternative is abortion or yet another child on the public dole. The crime is aided and abetted by sex obsessed Christians of a certain type who oppose sex education and birth control.

    The same thing is true about heterosexuals who don’t want to be inconvenienced, and who have diseases, and pass them on to their unsuspecting partners.

  • Ben, you are absolutely right about heterosexuals who practice immorality. However male homosexuals are far more likely to be infected and to spread sexually transmitted diseases, and therefore they should be especially diligent to always use latex condoms.

  • Well, everyone dies, dear.

    Not to go to hell is easy. Prove it exists.

    But what about all of those people who don’t believe in your Christian god, but believe inother gods, every bit as real?

    And what about all of the people who lived their lives for the past 6000 years, and died, never knowing that there was a hell?

  • -> “We always do this when tragedy happens,” Tin Yee, a temple member…said…

    Amazingly, the prayer-mongers often realize that the deity they pray to — either planned the tragedy or knowingly failed to stop it. Yet, they keep praying to the same god like lemmings.

    No imagination is needed…The very same prayers will be given after the next atrocity their god is planning.

  • The Bible refers to a lot of things, many of which are wrong, unevidenced, impossible, unlikely and/or just plain silly.

  • Where was God?
    He was probably in the same place He was in when we killed His Son on the cross.
    He was probably in the same place He was in when He allowed Babylon to invade and conquer Judah.
    Nothing horrific happens that He does not have a reason for allowing it.

  • I know where you’re coming from but that 6000 should, conservatively, be more like 300,000 – and that’s just for anatomically modern humans.

  • not true. Jesus spoke about Adam and Eve. In Luke 3:38 the ancestry of Jesus Christ is traced up to Adam,

  • So we’re having to live with pain, death, suffering, sickness, politicians, volcanoes, earthquakes, politicians, tsunamis, wasps, politicians, psychopaths (they really are made “in the image of God”), politicians, religious nutters, politicians, did I say politicians etc. etc. etc. because God screwed up and only had us upon whom to divert his self-loathing inadequacy?

    And after all that the snake was right and God was a liar!

  • Actually, He took His wrath on Himself – on Christ.
    1 Peter 2:24 -English Standard Version
    He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

  • Look up “evidence”. – Scripture is the only source which mentions the story in that form – it can’t be evidence for itself.

    Your link is massively unimpressive.
    Basically it must be true because Paul’s writings show he thought it was!
    Paul didn’t have the benefit of the last two thousand years of research, nor did he know anything of the scientific method. His education may have been top grade for the period – by today’s standards it is woefully inadequate, both in breadth and in rigour.
    Perhaps if he were alive now he would laugh at the, now obvious, fallacy of the fiction; perhaps he wouldn’t – either way it has no bearing on whether things he got from old myths were true.

    Millions of people have thought the sun circled the earth – it was a decent guess before we gained the relevant knowledge – but it’s false. Just as knowledge demonstrates the error of the sun/earth relationship so it demonstrates the inaccuracy of the biblical creation myths.

  • He screwed up, took it out on his own son ….and still we have suffering and pain etc. (and politicians).

    If you need to worship something why choose an evil, uncaring, son-murdering incompetent?

  • God didn’t screw up. I’m sorry He isn’t small enough for you to try to step on, Give.

  • Which part of your bible did you get that from?

    Are you saying he changed his mind after announcing that Peter would be the rock on which he founded his church?

    Adam is fiction – the evidence makes it impossible to be otherwise.

  • Keep hoping Give, you still will not be correct. Plus, it is better to hope in the One who gives life, rather than the one who takes it. (edited)

  • Some people hope to go black and thereby avoid going go hell. Pity the fools, going black is not much to hope for.

  • IF I knew something wasn’t going to work out well and I still, quite unnecessarily, did it – I screwed up.

    IF God knew something wasn’t going to work out well and still, quite unnecessarily, did it – it screwed up.

    Actually the reason I can’t step on your god is because reason, evidence and need all lead to the rational conclusion that there is no god to step upon.

  • I know I’m breathing – to me that’s credible evidence.

    You’re reading something that says I’m alive – it’s not conclusive is it? Someone else could be pretending to be me, or I might be an advanced version of AI – heck I could even be a god working a miracle to test your faith! Not all evidence is of equal value.

  • Paul says that Paul had a “revelation” and you believe it.

    Puts him in a group which includes Muhammad, Aleister Crowley, Joyce Meyer, Pat Robertson and Joseph Smith.

  • That’s irrational now, Sandi.

    I’m breathing, assuming it is I, because of chemical and electrical activity. You believe, without a shred of either evidence or need, that those actions occur because of a God whose existence you cannot prove.

    You do not understand the concept of evidence (which comes from the same Latin root as video – it means something that is obvious, as though it can be plainly and indubitably seen)

  • God is the One who supplies the air that you breathe. He formed you in your mother’s womb. You wouldn’t be here without Him, my friend.
    BTW Happy Turkey day from Canada.

  • What Paul has taught is confirmed in the OT. What Paul has taught has come true through the years. The difficulty is yours, alone, Give.

  • You are entitled to your beliefs, however unnecessary, unevidenced and irrational they are. I am equally entitled to reject them as unsubstantiated wishful-thinking.

    I saw a very sad sight earlier this week. The children from our local primary school were carrying gifts to celebrate Harvest Festival. Were they going to show their understanding and appreciation of the efforts put in by botanists, plant breeders, farmers and the like – no they were being led to church, presumably to sing nice songs about how wonderful an imaginary deity is in the hope that he’ll let the workers get on with producing next years harvest.

  • No it isn’t, Sandi.

    A bit of carefully selected writing, viewed through the lens of hindsight and the fog of faith does not constitute confirmation; con perhaps, but not confirmation.

  • Yeah – that’s why he warned about online security, bank fraud and nuclear weapons – except he dressed them up in such obscurity that Nostradamus was, by comparison, simple, direct and obvious.

  • Of course I can’t, unless I commit murder (and I won’t) – it exists only in your mind and only you can kill it off.

  • No matter what you believe, someday “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” No one goes to hell that doesn’t choose to, and no one will be in heaven who doesn’t want to be there, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power has been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” We are all under condemnation, and we will all be judged whether you believe that or not it’s going to happen. The good news is that God gave us a way out, a get out of jail free card, through the shed blood of His beloved Son. A free gift of love from your Creator! We choose where we will spend eternity, and we will spend eternity somewhere. It’s called free will, and it’s why one man kills and wounds many people, and other men run into the fray and risk their lives to save the lives of others.

  • Bitter arguing will not honor the dead. Instead it underscores our ignorance and lack of compassion. Las Vegas reveals a truth that many religious struggle with, that God is different than hoped for and that Holy Scriptures sometime fail us in understanding many things. If God is like the universe then God will never be fully known. It is an uncomfortable truth. What is known is the valor, compassion, and self sacrifice of many who were at the scene and under threat while helping others. This is love. Instead of focusing on that which is unknowable let us pay attention to what we do know and that is In the face of unimaginable suffering good people risk and give their lives helping others. I believe this is where you will find God not in the far reaches of the unknown.

  • That’s just the writings of men. Modern man (cave art, burials with expensive bead and shell work, etc.) goes back many tens of thousands of years before the 6000 years since the Adam and Eve myth. Additionally the chronology (which I’ve read many times) is flawed given the ridiculous life spans claimed prior to Noah (absolutely no evidence of a global flood). No – your entire faith is built on a foundation of sand.

  • Or not. It has only been 2000 years, and so far, nothing except threats of “wait until your Father gets home.”

  • You are right, it’s been 2000 long years, “or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” There is a reason He is waiting, it may be because He wants as many prodigals to come home as possible.

  • Or he doesn’t exist. Or the actions of Christians have convinced the prodigals that there is no home to come home to. Or there are no prodigals, just people. Or he is waiting to see how many people he can condemn to hell to burn forever because he is so kind and loving.

    Meanwhile, if it his plan, the world grows in apostasy. That means that more and more people will be burning in hell forever. Certainly, the 2/3 of the world that isn’t Christian. Certainly, whichever half of Christianity you believe is the True Christian (TM) half”

  • Or He does exist, and no matter what Christians do to hinder or help prodigals to come home, they will because “my sheep hear my voice, and they come..”
    No one goes to Hell that doesn’t choose to. There’s always a choice to be made.

    And yes, the apostasy grows in the church. The world that loves itself more than God will go on living “being married, and giving in marriage” just like in the days of Noah, right up until the door of the Ark closed. God tells us all of this is going to end badly again, so we won’t be surprised when judgment finally comes. I’m just thrilled it didn’t happen when I was 18 or 21 or 25. I don’t make judgments on who are the wheat and who are the chaff, even angels don’t know that. Only God knows hearts. My faith and my trust is in the finished crosswork, and the sure Word of God. You can say I’m wrong. But what if I’m not?

  • No one goes to hell that doesn’t choose to?

    And your god created the hell that they go to. He didn’t need to. He could have removed original sin with Noah and his family. He could have done all sorts of things. But instead, he created hell.

    And the people who never got the memo about hell. Are they choosing to go to hell?

  • if you are going to bring god down to the level of human compassion, then you cannot create god in your own image. That simply will not do.

  • As I remember church, heaven is for honest, compassionate people. No trolls there, no matter how sanctimonious they be.

  • There is not a single logical reason or proof for me to believe in that nonsense or worry about death. There is more than enough proof for me to reject it – and I do.

  • It’s not a hope. I don’t remember anything prior to my 4th year of life and definitely nothing prior to my existence or conception. I expect that the electrical signals and whatnot that comprise my existence will cease and that will be it. That’s what I expect and I certainly have no reason to be afraid or put stock in supernatural mumbo jumbo.

  • Ben, I know you’re familiar with God’s word. Hell was never meant for us (people) it was created for Satan and those angels who chose in their arrogance to rebel against God. When man chooses to rebel against God, he joins them.

    And you’re right again about God removing original sin from Noah and his family, he could have, but he didn’t. Perhaps He was giving mankind another chance to get it right. You would think knowing that billions of people died in the flood would have colored their thinking a little bit, maybe put the “fear of God” into them?

    I hate to be redundant, but as I said before, God reveals himself to everyone through His creation. He’s written his law on everyone’s heart, it’s called a conscience. God Himself says, “man is without excuse.” No one is going to stand before God and say “Who are you?” So yes, we all choose. I choose to believe in Jesus Christ through faith by grace. Another chooses to believe in another god and some choose to believe there is no God. It is always a choice. Even if you say I don’t know what I believe, so I’ll kick that can down the road, a choice had been made.

  • Every human being was born knowing that there is a god. When God created the Human, they knew of his existence. He let people know through prophets and miracles. The people passed down the miracles of god through generations. Therefore if you lived alone on and island, God would give you an idea that he was there, at one point or another in your life. Through anger or love. Hope this helped!

  • That’s not what John Calvin said. No choice at all about Hell. God has already decided and most of us are heading south for some warmth.

  • No, No, again — let’s remember John Calvin here…he quotes Jesus and says few will pass through the needle. Hell is for most and there is no choice. Very likely applies to your fallen soul too, Patricia,

  • -> “There’s always a choice to be made….”

    I choose not to go to Hell. God knows what would change my mind, yet he does nothing…almost like he doesn’t care. That is why I choose no Hell. So ball is back in God’s court. What will he do?

    Will he send to Hell all those honest, decent, loving people who don’t get a revelation and and decide knowledge, evidence and facts don’t support a loving God? That would make God an immoral monster. Being with that kind of evil God for eternity may be worse than Hell.

    -> “You can say I’m wrong. But what if I’m not? ”

    Yes, Pascal’s wager…but beliefs are not like turning on a light..Nobody can fake loving God and Jesus…they would know. So it’s Hell no matter what. Patricia, that’s is why people are not buying your immoral choices.

  • Firstly – I can provide you with the evidence but I can’t comprehend it for you.

    Secondly – Since the original claim is that the Bible is not false the onus of proof is on those making that claim. Until the Bible is proven true in every respect it is to be considered untrue; it cannot be proven true in every respect – therefore it is false.

    However….

    There are two distinct creation myths – they cannot both be right and both are at odds with all the evidence.

    The flood not only did not happen (there would be unmistakable evidence of it) it physically could not have happened. (The pressure under 28000 ft of water would have been catastrophic).

    We know why rainbows exist – it’s a necessary and automatic occurrence when light strikes the back of raindrops as seen from a specific direction. They are not there to remind a doddery old god that killing innocent creatures is immoral.

    The captivity and the Exodus – again no evidence and excellent arguments for believing they never happened.

    Jericho – empty and unenclosed when the Israelites first occupied it. The walls built two hundred years later collapsed in an earthquake. (Archaeology rocks!).

    No mention of David or Solomon outside the Bible – the absence of extensive records regarding dealings with what would have been a major buffer state in both Egyptian and Hittite writings suggests that they were either unaware of Israel or regarded it as so minor as to be inconsequential.

    Jesus was born in Bethlehem. At best a very uncritical wishful creation; at worst an outright deliberate invention to sell reformed Judaism to the Jews based on a misunderstanding of a particular verse (Micah 5:2).

    Herod died in 3BC – Quirinius was appointed in 6CE.
    The census Quirinius instigated covered Judea – not Galilee where Nazareth was.
    No Roman census ever required those being counted to leave home – they sent auditors round to assess taxable wealth.

    Those are specifics – the main objection is, of course, that the idea that the bible is anything more than a collection of religious stories relies upon the necessary participation of deities, angels, demons etc.. Since there is no credible evidence for any supernatural entity and no rational need for there to be (or ever to have been) any such thing(s) the rational conclusion is that they either don’t exist or, having no discernible interaction with the natural world, are irrelevant.

  • If you want one reason why religion is harmful to humanity it is this.

    The mentally destructive, fear inducing, thought numbing mantra –

    anything good – it’s down to god – praise god and show your devotion
    anything bad – it’s your fault – fear god and show your devotion.

  • Yes, that’s exactly what Calvin said. No choice, it’s been made for you by a God who says he loves you, but consigns you to hell. What kind of love is that? Actions speak louder than words, and John Calvin killed a great many people who refused to accept Christ. Think about that, if there is no choice, according to John Calvin, and all that are chosen will come, then why kill people who can’t come because they weren’t chosen? I believe what God’s word says, not what a man said. I know there are a lot of Calvinists who are out there will argue that the TULIP is biblical. God gives every one a measure of faith to make a choice, but that is by grace so no one can boast

  • Damien, you just don’t get it. When you choose not to give your life to Jesus, then you choose to spend eternity in Hell. It’s either or. ” no one comes to the Father, (who is in heaven) except through His Son.”
    That’s the 2 choices anyone has. We are all going to spend eternity somewhere whether we like it or not. When you say “I choose not to go to hell,” then your only other choice is heaven. And you know what you have to do to go there. Now you can punt and say I’ll take my chances that there is no heaven or hell, and it goes back to the same question, what if you’re wrong? Jesus said if you seek me with all of your heart you will surely find me.

  • Sorry, my choice (if John Calvin is wrong) and I have free will…

    …So I still choose not to go to hell. The ball’s back in God’s court.

  • Actually, no.

    If people actually knew it,they would probably not forget it so easily.

    People are taught religion by their parents. If you have Muslim parents, you will most likely become a Muslim.

  • So, your god is a mass murderer, who murdered BILLIONS of people– your words– to prove a point about who was boss. Rather than fix a little problem like that, like explaining to Adam and Eve why they should not have eaten the fruit, he murdered BILLIONS. HE murdered even the little babies, who couldn’t have sinned even had they wanted to, but your god is good.

    Your god seems to have a morals of a congressman.

    When I was a boy, I believed religiously. I went to Sunday school every Sunday, and learned all about God and how good and wonderful he was. When I was about 12, our teacher was telling us the story of how God hardened pharaohs heart after each and every plague, so that he could punish the Egyptians even more. I raised my hand and said, “but that’s not fair!” I was told by my teacher that I was not to question God’s judgment in the matter. Even a 12-year-old like myself could see that this was all about power and authority, nothing about morality at all.

    Your God seems to have the morals of a congressman.

  • Actually, I’ve got a scripture that you’d love to sink your teeth into, and probably never understand, Give.
    James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
    It is one means that the Lord uses to teach us. I don’t see heathen as being any different

  • Have you ever heard of Tacitus? I thought not. Tacitus was a Roman historian in the time of Emperor Tiberius and Nero. He refers to lots of happenings during that time. One of them being the spring of Christianity. One of his accounts on Christians, who he despised-

    “Neither human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered [by Nero]. Therefore, to put down the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits and punished in the most unusual ways those hated for their shameful acts … whom the crowd called “Chrestians.” The founder of this name, Christ [Christus in Latin], had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate … Suppressed for a time, the deadly superstition erupted again not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but also in the city [Rome], where all things horrible and shameful from everywhere come together and become popular.”

  • That’s always a possibility, but for me, not a probability. I’ve walked in His love and care too many years, I’ve seen my life change completely, and my priorities change to His priories. I have read His word and it has strengthened my faith. I’ve seen others change their lives too. He has directed my path and answered my prayers. Sometimes not like I would have wanted, but answered none the less. He is as real to me as my husband and my kids are, and I love Him, and can’t imagine my life without Him. Thank you for asking.

  • The billions had choices and they chose to lead lives that were so sinful, rebellious, and continually evil that God in His wisdom chose to destroy them. They were not innocent. As for the children, aren’t they always hurt by the sins of their fathers? How about the millions who are aborted for convenience?

    You know I went to church until I was 12 also, but it didn’t click with me. My parents never attended church, but just sent my brother and i to the church on the corner of our street. At 12, the church told me I could become a member and sing in the choir, something I really wanted to do. When I told my parents, they said NO! You’re catholic, you can’t join that church. So I never went back and never stepped into a church again, except for weddings and funerals until I was 29.

    If you look at the story of Pharaoh, you’ll find his heart was stubborn and after every time he promised to let God’s people go and didn’t, his heart hardened a little more and finally God hardened his heart. It ended badly for pharaoh. God gave him time to do the right thing, but he chose not to. I look at this story as showing God’s mercy and kindness not to smash him like a bug the first time he reneged On his promise to let God’s people go. If I were God that’s what I would have done. We are the ones who have the morals of a congressman, not God.

  • take one good look at the declining morality, of this nation. and then have the nerve to ask, where is THE COMMANDER of all pestilence, plague and famine to THEIR enemies?

    do you really believe that your neighbors immorality, won’t effect you? and i, know why immoral california is on fire again too. the more you become the enemies of G-D, the harsher is your physical judgement in pestilence, plague, and famine.

    no i do not believe, that ELOHEEM killed 70,000 innocent golden calfers at mt seeanee either. when we, are all held responsible and accountable for what our neighbors say and do wrong. and even i am, held more accountable than those who have not been taught better.

    and the below, does reveal ELOHEEM’S hatred for their enemies. and if i, refuse to tell the truth then i too become THEIR enemy. being more knowlegeable, than any of you about ELOHEEM.

    ELOHEEM spoke spoke all these statements, saying:

    I-AM ELOHEEM, your ELOHEEM, Who has taken you out of the land of egypt,from the house of slavery.

    you shall not recognize the g-ds* of others in MY Presence. you shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of that which is in heavens above the earth or below or in the water beneath the earth. you shall not prostrate yourself to them nor worship them, for I-AM ELOHEEM, your ELOHEEM – a jealous ELOHEEM, Who visits the sins of fathers upon children to the third and fourth generation, for my enemies; but Who knows kindness for thousands [of generations] to those who love ME and observe MY commandments.

  • columbine, lost vegas, world trade center, jim jones, north korea, wwi, wwii, stalin, hitler, mao, pol pot, vietnam, iraq, iran, syria, antifa, blm, neo-nazi, cancer, alzheirmers, chicago, california, antisemitism, muhammed, what more proof do you need that hell exists?

    maybe you, do not appreciate the kinder gentiler hell your currently in but on the increase again. if you want a more vicious physical hell, just wait i am certain ELOHEEM can remedy that for you.

    and when the jews, betrayed ELOHEEM they got whacked harder than any other of THEIR enemies too. so why would christians, think they are any different?

    there is no hell greater, than the one we are physically in of our own doings. there is no hell, beyond physical life death for anyone. whether we, want physical heaven or hell on earth is a result of our mental attitudes for or against ELOHEEM and/or THEIR HaMosheeach Son Adam again in This Physical ReAccounting..

  • gun control does not effect, the corruption of the minds. what next, knife, ied, truck, screwdriver, hammer, and airplane control? guns, trucks, airplanes, ied’s, do not make terrorist dangerous – false mind control does.

    communists, and other socialist fascisms, are dangerous because of mind control.

  • those who only say they believe in G-D but do not really. tend to suffer in greater physical hells.

    ELOHEEM, is the Commander of all of THEIR enemies too. and can command THEIR enemies, to torture, torment, and kill each other too.

  • no! that should be 5778 years, so far in this 7 day Torah ReCycle of 6818 man years. so we, have about 1040 man years left until the begining of the seven day week again.

    so after you die, your casper must wait in stasis until it is time for your physical resurrection again.

    the physical resurrection, begins with ELOHEEM splitting the Adam into THEIR Male Child adam and his sister again to resurrect you all in the next seven day physical hereafter.

    so you are going to have a long snooze, until your exact same time, place and parents to be physically born again every 6818 man years to the third and fourth set.

    so your caspers, have been around for about 14,214 man years to date for the twice before and this time again. with a very few, that have survived many previous third and fourth born again cycles.

  • really now, it even tells you in TheTorah, about adam and his sister forgeting about ELOHEEM coming to visit them. and even forgot, they arrived by ELOHEEM physically splitting the Adam.

    and how quickly the multitudes of all known nations forgot about ELOHEEM WHO delivered them from egypt. and all the miracles that they, personally experienced along the way.

    and how many times, they were enslaved, defeated, tortured and tormented because they forgetting about ELOHEEM. and even deny to this day, they are all here in This Same Physical Story again from ELOHEEM.

    and in fact why do you not remember the twice before you were here in THEIR same physical story of The Creation being ReGiven for the third time?

  • have you tried, moving to north korea, or iran to find out there is a greater physical hell than you are now physically in?

  • that is called oblivion, and does cannot happen untill after the third and fourth screw up. everyone’s casper, gets at least four oppertunities. if you, don’t mess up you get more third and fourth oppertunities for possibly thousands and thousands of third and forth returns. in which case they, have most likely seen G-D and been to HEAVEN of Heavens in between physical life cycles.

  • yes this is the third accounting and second death. so there would be two previous seven day accounting’s.

    and since ELOHEEM makes every thing again. why would there be evidence of a flood? you, can’t even convert rock into water. you just don’t have the infinite power ELOHEEM has to do that. let alone, return all the same gold, silver, oil, coal and continents back in the same original positions.

    and as to your, third debacle the statement was they had never seen a rainbow like it before. in other words, it was different than any rainbow you see today or they had seen before. i, have seen that rainbow with a happy face not frowning.

  • yes it is true, that ELOHEEM promised pestilence, plague, and famine to THEIR enemies. and still you, have to want to be THEIR enemy?

    blind and deaf as a diseased bat, can’t even see what ELOHEEM did to THEIR egyptian enemies. or when the jews*, reverted to being THEIR enemies.

    during wwi and wwii, christians murdered their own christian brothers and sisters in opposition.

    and muslims slaughter each other, when there is no one else around to murder.

    and what did the atheists do, in the french revolution, ussr, north korea, cambodia, laous, china, and las vegas?

  • what makes you think, They are not both here again? after G-D split the Adam again???

    They had to of been here, since the year 1948 (5718) for the in-gathering to happen at the end of this sixth day as always.

  • no! ELOHEEM, did not create the physical hell that you all have done in disbelief with untruths.

    ELOHEEM already told you, if you do not believe in US. We are going to give you hell for it like with the pharaoh and the egyptians. and even to the jews*, noachides, and christians, when applicable.

  • God is there. Want to know why? Because the proof is amazing. Think about it. The earth is just perfect. It’s length from the sun is perfect. Another reason, is our DNA. The DNA code is incredible too. The DNA code is designed to tell the cell what to do. It’s like a programming code. It was a script made by a programmer. It’s like writing in the sand, “Jake loves Michelle”. It’s there. But, who wrote it? Obviously someone did.

  • ” I believe what God’s word says, not what a man said.”

    No, you really believe “what a man said” (actually many men) because there is no such thing as God’s word. The so-called “God’s word” is actually the words of many men claiming to speak for a god. Those men were either simply delusional or were using fraud to attain power and/or status.

  • It’s fascinating to see how many attributes sociopaths and psychotics have in common with both. “The rules don’t apply to me.”

  • It means – “I can’t understand why God doesn’t make life easy for us so I’m going to avoid the obvious (no God), tell myself that it must be good for us and pretend I’m happy in the irrational expectation that it will somehow make me perfect.”

    And that’s how you get uncritical, completely malleable people who think that they enjoy slavery.

  • Yes – I’ve heard of Tacitus.

    You asked “Prove that the Bible is false to me, please.” I’ve done so and all you can do is cut and paste an irrelevant story.

    A reasonable conclusion is that you are unable to refute my points.

  • Jimmie – IMO your responses are nearly always entertaining – and just as often unsupported gibberish.

  • No

    I am fortunate to have had a relatively easy life.

    I am well aware that my good fortune is largely down to conditions beyond my control and that most people have not been dealt so lucky a hand.

    No-one could realistically describe me as being in a “physical hell”.

  • Did you dream this up yourself Jimmie – or are you perhaps parroting someone else’s fantasies?

  • Spiced – you need to do some serious reading.

    You are making the mistake that most religion makes – that of thinking that human beings are some sort of special pet species and that our master created a universe to fit us (not very well actually – but that’s another discussion).

    This is putting the cart before the horse. The simple fact is that the universe existed for billions of years until life on this planet came about in a form that could survive and, in some forms, flourish

    – within the parameters that already existed.

    The world was not made for mankind, mankind evolved in response to the pressures exerted by the environment in which life happened to be – it really is that simple.

  • There is no other book in the history of mankind that is more cohesive than the Bible. Yes, it was written by many men, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and through faith I believe it is infallible. You obviously don’t agree and my saying so will not convince you. This is a debate that has been going on for centuries, and I am not prepared to argue the subject. You either believe or you don’t.

  • I’m not daft enough to think that there’s a god who does bad things to me because he loves me – so no.

  • Any god who would “trample” is unfit to be worshipped.

    Fortunately your loving trampler exists only in your mind.

  • I know you believe it – for thousands of years people believed the sun went round the earth.

    Believing something doesn’t make it true.

  • And not believing that there are fairies at the bottom of my neighbour’s garden doesn’t nullify them either.

  • If you think there are fairies at the bottom of your neighbour’s garden, I would suggest you check your medication 🙂

  • In the massively unlikely event that there is an unevidenced and unnecessary deity of some sort – we’ll see. If the nasty piece of work you believe in existed there’d be no chance of me liking him without first undergoing a forced frontal lobotomy.

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