Critical thinking and organized religion have and will always clash, and my public knock-down drag-out in Oklahoma City with a Catholic Priest is a prime example. I didn’t go in looking for a fight, but when I openly challenged this man of the cloth with a critical thinking question he couldn’t answer, he attacked me and didn’t expect an equal response. Whether you’re a person of faith, an atheist or anywhere in between, it’s hard to dispute the fact that the problem with religious leaders and their doctrine is their unwillingness to undergo the scientific and critical thinking scrutiny that every other philosophy, industry, or ideology is subjected to. In short, it’s not only politically incorrect to publicly challenge 2,000 year old religious dogma, it’s social suicide. Especially in America. That’s where mental toughness kicks in and why I’m including it on this blog and in my upcoming book. Watch this short video I shot today in Oklahoma City and I’ll look forward to hearing what you have to say.  Steve Siebold   (2:30 )

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Steve Siebold
Author and Professional Speaker since 1997. Past Chairman of the National Speakers Association's Million Dollar Speakers Group. Author of 11 books with 1.4 million copies in print.

103 thoughts on “My Fight with a Catholic Priest”

  1. Seems to me like this is a question of truth vs. fact. Truth, as you help us to see, is what we think or believe about something. Fact is just that – concrete, undeniable, undisputable fact. I think the bottom line in any discussion about religion is that faith (no matter what that is in) is truth, not fact. Can you prove there is a God with concrete, absolute fact? No. Can you prove there is not a God with concrete, absolute fact? No. So, whether you are a believer in God or whether you aren’t, it’s based on your own truth, and in your mind, you’re right either way. I’ll tell you why I would worship a God that would allow terrible tragedies to happen – because I believe He has given us the ability to choose, we are tempted by sin every day, and if there was no evil, there could not be pure good (where there is black, there is white). This is my truth.

    1. Susan,
      Thanks for your comment. Your example of Truth vs Fact in this context is misplaced, because God either exists or he doesn’t. It’s an objective fact, minus belief or emotion. We can believe anything we wish, but he exists or he doesn’t. If I had the power to end human suffering and didn’t, you wouldn’t think very much of me. You might even call me a monster. Yet because we’ve been brainwashed from childhood to fear god, we make excuses for his inaction. It’s illogical and devoid of critical thought. Americans love to hate agnostics, atheists and free thinkers, but they are gaining ground much faster than evangelicals because the younger generations are listening to their logic. I’ve been interviewing this group for the past 1.5 years for my new book, and they are some of the smartest people I’ve interviewed in 30 years. It doesn’t mean they are right, but they certainly have a lot more evidence to support their claims than the evangelicals. Your thoughts?

  2. Steve,

    On reading your email, before even viewing the clip, I was on the defensive and hairs stood on the back of my neck. Conflicting emotions encircled me because I have enjoyed reading your message, admiring your philosophy and vision and building it into something great and prosperous. Your Mental Toughness book provides bold, “out of the box” ideals that we should really grab on to, customize and make our own. But your approach on this issue and your tone of frustration, angst and disappointment shown through and you used your media to stake blame and fling it out for all to see. The bible does say, examine everything and hold on to that which is good. By the same token, the bible also states do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. We are human, we are all fallible, including the priest. That his emotions and primary reaction was that of defense rather than consolation or justice in the Lord’s Word, well, again, we are human. Our mental limitations prevent us from understanding the true, unfathomable Divinity of God. He therefore is a mystery. LIfe, death, evil and why these things happen are all mysteries, but they should allow us to regard our own personal insignificant lives as precious and unique and valuable and a gift from God. Not, YOUR God, but OUR God, everyone’s God, the one and only God, who gave up His only Son out of His Love for us.We were given the gifts of emotions and senses so we may feel love, by the same token, feel pain and everything else in between. Unfortunately, they throw us in a head spin and we are left to sort out the mess as we have always done. However, in that mess, He is there sorting it out with us. I can attest to His Presence through the Holy Spirit in many sufferings and anxieties in my life, personal, financial, etc. You need but to see with better eyes and with your heart, not with your mind. In such a violent and atrocious event that day, we all mourned, and were displaced emotionally whether some were at ground zero or heard it on tv hundreds or thousands of miles away. You were there, how did that event move you? Did you mourn? Were you stopped in your tracks? Your anger and resentment may have been your definition of mourning that day but lacking the bigger picture of Faith in trying to somewhat make sense of all this may have been missing also. We don’t pray to see what we can get. We pray to establish an intimate relationship with God, to submit and surrender to His will, and release our own prideful one. There will continue to be human questions and debates as long as humanity exists about these mysteries that we cannot answer. There are no right or wrong answers, only those answers that make sense to us and comfort our meager lives. There is one true answer and direction though, and that is God. Thank you for your thought provoking questions and statements. I will say a prayer for you and your continued success, your gifted and talented success that has been given to you by God. In Faith. God Bless you brother. Thank you for the opportunity to post.

    1. Eli,
      Thanks for your comment. Here’s my critical thinking question for you: “Why would you worship a god that would allow children to be blown to pieces?” Is that a loving god or a god that doesn’t care?

  3. Steve, keep teaching wealth and prosperity, and leave spirituality to the meek and humble.
    Don’t ever doubt your Creator, and remember that your wealth, and the others’ wealth which you have studied, were all blessings from above, no matter how apparently self derived.

    1. Daniel,
      My job is to question conventional wisdom through critical thinking, not leave it to the meek or anyone else. Mental toughness is about questioning everything, including the most dangerous line of thinking: delusion.
      Wealth doesn’t come from God or any other supernatural source; it comes from years of hard work, sacrifice and risk. If God was the real source of wealth, every christian praying for prosperity would be a millionaire.
      If you have any evidence that proves money or anything else comes from god or any other supernatural force, I’d love to hear it. Until then, I’ll keep working hard and counting on myself, and I’d suggest everyone who wants to be wealthy to do the same.
      Thanks for your comment, Daniel.

  4. I don’t think you’ve asked a critically reflective question.

    Before you even ask a question like that, there only seems to be two alternatives…God is either real or it’s all an illusion. If there truly is no God, the question doesn’t make sense. If there is a God, the question doesn’t make sense because God is doing what God sees fit to do and whether we understand it or not, we have to respect God’s decisions to be or not to be wherever He/She wants to be.

    I think the better question is what do YOU believe about God? If a person truly believes there’s no God, why would they ask such a question? If they truly believe God exists, then why would they ask such a question…wouldn’t they have faith that God knows what He or She is doing, whether they understand it or not?

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond!

    1. Robert,
      Thanks for your comment. Here’s where I disagree: You say;”if there is a the question that doesn’t make sense because god is doing what god sees fit to do and we have to respect god’s decisions” Here’s my critical thinking question for you: why would we respect the decision of any god that stands by and watches innocent children being slaughtered when he has the power to stop it? How can you actually respect such a monster? This whole idea that we are too feeble to understand gods will and should just take everything on faith like drones is the heart of the problem. It’s time for all of us to grow and and take control of lives and our planet and stop depending on some supernatural being in the sky that we can’t even prove exists. There may or may not be a god. No one knows for sure. But if there is a god he doesn’t seem to care much about the evil and misery in the world. If you have proof to the contrary, I’d love to hear it.
      Thanks for weighing in.

  5. The age old question(s): Where is God when tragedy strikes? Why does God let bad things happen?

    The question can be asked in many different forms. But I believe the answer is not so easy. In fact, I don’t believe there is an answer that we can provide through our own understanding. And I believe that this is not the only type of situation in which we cannot provide an answer. Everyone experiences times when they cannot explain why things are happening the way they are. This was one of those times.

    The question you asked in your video came off as an attack on Christianity (at least that is the way I took it). I’ve read your books and I believe that you did not mean to necessarily discredit or disprove God. Your book 177 Mental Toughness Secrets suggests you encourage faith in a power greater than ourselves. Perhaps it was said out of anger for what you witnessed (we are, in fact, emotional creatures). Perhaps you were angry with this priest who claimed to have the answer that I do not believe anyone in this world could possibly have. Regardless of your emotions at the time, that type of situation clearly weighs on your heart. I cannot offer answers, but I can tell you how I view tragedy.

    The fact is that we live in a messed up world where people have the freedom to do evil things if they wish. As a Christian myself, God asks me to have faith in Him when tragedy strikes (which it inevitably will in some capacity or another). I have faith that God knows what is best for our world, and He will do what is necessary to attempt to move people in the direction of His will. We have the freedom to follow that will or reject it. But God is continuously trying to help us see what is best for ourselves. Do I know why God allows tragedies? Of course not. I’ve never heard an answer that is completely satisfactory as to why God allows evil. Explanations can be offered, but none will suffice in times like those. The only answer that people want to hear is the one from God himself saying, “I’ll never let evil happen again.” But we can see that will not happen in this world (at least not in it’s current state).

    This choice I make to have faith in God is not made without consideration. I am not wired to accept things blindly without investigating. I am a problem solver by nature. I want to understand. And my answer to this comes in the pattern I see from my experiences with tragedy. When something tragic occurs, there is something that never fails to happen. I ALWAYS see people coming together in mourning and in hope. Mourning for those who were lost in the tragedy, and hope that the rest of us affected can move forward and somehow persevere through the tragedy. You may not see God in those situations, but he is plain and clear to me. He is right there comforting those who have lost loved ones. Do you not see people gathering in mass groups and praying? God knows that while tragedy is a horrible part of life, the aftermath brings people closer to him. They will seek his wisdom and peace while they recover, and they will seek his guidance in finding hope for the future. Look at every major tragedy in this modern time, and you will see the same thing I see: People coming together in prayer. And prayer ultimately brings us closer to God.

    Proof exists in the patterns we see. And this pattern seems to prove that God is present when even the worst tragedies strike.

  6. So, “Critical thinking and organized religion have and will always clash”. Steve, I could not disagree with you more. I believe critical thinking invloves God in every way, despite what some religious leader who does not fully understand the scriptures may say.

    Now, it’s true that it seems that the two clash, e.g. Christ’s teaching that it is difficult for a rich man to get to heaven. But, really, it’s not because the man is rich. It’s because the man forgets who he is, and what the true source of his blessing is. If being rich is such a bad thing, then why were the Israelites of the Old Testament blessed with riches when they were righteous?

    I believe God expects us to make the most of our lives, both temporally and spiritually, which is why I’m a fan of your 177 Secrets book, including your assertion that one should question one’s religious upbringing. Asking sincere questions of one’s religious teaching is how one gains a spiritual witness of His reality.

    Back to your question of where was God, many of the above comments indicate that God will not interfere with one’s right to choose. I fully agree with that. Any good parent will not always interfere with their children’s right to choose. I think our Heavenly parent is a little better at parenting than any of us are — after all He does know a bit more than we do. I also believe that God allows evil men and women to inflict atrocities on others, such as the Oklahoma City bombing that His judgment may come upon them. We are taught, after all, that we will be judged by our works.

    This life is meant to test us and to try us. God knows that. Why would he interfere with that test? To clarify that priest’s comments of God protecting the souls of those whose lives were lost, I believe that the souls of everyone, good or evil, are initially taken home to Him before being assigned a place to await the resurrection. No protection necessary — their life on this earth has been completed.

    Where was God? I believe He was right there.

  7. Steve there you go asking those tough questions again,
    Don’t you remember what they did with people like you in school????

    1. Marian/Leroy,
      You’re right. I was suspended multiple times from confirmation classes (lutheran church) as a teenager for challenging the pastor to prove biblical claims like the talking snake and burning bush. They couldn’t believe I had the nerve at 13 years old to question their authority. I couldn’t believe they were so surprised. Anyway, I was the black sheep of my entire class for having the audacity to repeatedly question the pastors (and the bibles) authority. That was 35 years ago and they still haven’t answered any of my challenges. Until they do, I’ll keep probing.
      Thanks for your thoughts!

  8. He was where he always is – living in the vivid imagination of those that believe.


  9. Steve, I love the way you post provocative questions (I truly do). It is the way to get people to really think and not just give pat answers.

    I’ve always said that Christians (of which I am) should be able to defend their faith if they truly believe.

    However, I truly feel that some things are beyond our comprehension. What we as humans consider may not be bad in God’s eyes, or He may have his own purpose for doing what we think of as horrible.

    As someone who has a cancer that has struck him in the eyes, brain, spine, and kidneys I have the same type of question may times myself. Why Me? Aren’t I a good person, yada, yada, yada…?

    I guess it comes down to either believing that there is a purpose for everything, or not. Just like one either believes in God, or not. It comes down to faith either way.

    Anyway, keep up the great questions and all the great work you do.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jay, and I hope you’re feeling good these days. I know you’ve been through a lot and you are a true role model for mental toughness.
      Glad to have you on the blog.

  10. This is a good question that I’ve thought about a lot since being a child. My grandfather used to tell me stories of the horrors he witnessed during World War II and he asked the same thing. Where was God then? I consider myself a spiritual person and even minored in religious studies in college. One thing I have learned through my own obervation and experience is that God gave us free will when we were created. It is up to us how we use our free will. I think God wants us all to evolve and grow, but just as a parent wants their children to make the best choices, we cannot control the choices our children make. As it is with free will. As misguided and delusional as individuals can be, thier decisions are their own. Their choices can be for the betterment of other or the destruction of others. It is not up to God to make our descisions for us. We were created as sentient beings and it is up to us to make choices that either align with our divinity or turn away from it.

  11. God (and faith) are meant to help us get through hard times, not stop man from doing bad things to one another.

    God does not do bad things to humans, humans do bad things to each other.

    You only mention a small snipet of the conversation, that the Priest was trying to help console people after this terrible tragetgy, and you jumped on him and asked a question you knew there was no answer to. I was not there, and can not imagine the horror and grief that all those who were felt. But to jump on a person trying to give some consolence to people seems a little out of line.

    In times like this, Mental toughness is not about being confrontational, (becuase maybe a person does not have faith). and questioning someone elses faith. Maybe a better question would have been, how do we heal and help those who lost loved ones heal?

    1. Denise,
      Thanks for our comment. This is the EXACT time for confrontation. If an all-knowing, all powerful god loves us so much yet refuses to step in and stop these events, why should we fall to our kness and worship him? If you had a neighbor that stood at his front door and watched a gang of thugs murdering a family member, would you label him a hero or a coward? There’s simply no logic in the idea that a loving god would allow needless suffering. He either doesn’t exist or doesn’t love us. And that’s based on his track record, not opinion.
      Your thoughts?

  12. “Where was God when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred”? Indeed a difficult question to answer…especially if the one asking the question appears to already have a predisposed position in order to argue any/all responses. As for me, God lives in my heart. He was there when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred and he was there when 9/11 occurred. While you were in Oklahoma City when the bomb detonated, I was in NYC when the first plane struck the north tower of the WTC. I saw the second plane strike the south tower. Like many, it is difficult to consider a “loving God”, who would stand by and allow such things to occur. But, there are times in my life where my faith is all I have to carry me through to the next day. On 9/11, and in the midst of death and destruction, as today, I can’t provide the answer you seek…But, I do know that God is, lives and reigns in my heart…I know you’ve excluded to respond to your own question…yet, I’d love to know what your thoughts are to the same question. Finally, its amazing to me how we try to exclude, avoid and/or down right prevent “God” to have anything to do in our daily lives. We’ve excluded him from our schools; we openly and disrespectfully mock him through the liberal press/media and our politicians appear to do any/everything possible to distance themselves from God….Yet, when a national catastrophe occurs, we’re quick to ask…”where was God when all this was going on”….

  13. I can’t believe that anyone would ask such an immature question in the first place. Not that it isn’t constantly being asked by great numbers of people everywhere. It’s just that it reflects the thinking level of a 5 year old. If you can’t answer that question yourself then you had better find someone to take care of you. Like perhaps an adult.

  14. Steve,

    My faith was arrived at through inductive reasoning based upon science, much as Albert Einstein arrived at his conclusion: that mathematics, physics, and science dictate that there must be a higher power that created this orderly universe. Through statistical probability he critically reasoned certainty that his emotional desire to disprove “a higher power” could not be sustained by the facts.

    Your response to the priest is a fair question and asked by both seculars and believers trough all mankind’s history. The only answer; is always an incomplete answer – God’s intervention negates free will – “why some and not others” is left unanswered (Westernized Christian position). Your desire (understandably) with your question to the priest suggests an emotional charged attempt to get a “critical” reasoned specific answer for a specific event which just is never going to happen!

    The priest was ill equipped to handle such a direct question because he is trained in “Faith”, and this was probably a feeble attempt to console. A fair and honest answer would have been “I do not know.”

    Faith and critical thinking need not be an oxymoron – but one must know the limits each perspective brings in seeking truth.

    Steve, enjoy your provocative and “in your face” thought provoking questions!

    David Gallagher

  15. I think that you asked the wrong person this question. For you asked a man like you but with a different title but still a man. We as humans look to blame someone or something, it is our nature, when we do not understand the reason for the event.
    The right question may have been. What caused this person to do this? Could I have done somthing to correct this from ever happening again?
    You where given reasoning, understanding, love, hope, joy, pain and other humans to live with. Are you any different than they are?
    I have presented my hand in frienship to many, how many though now there is a sucker. Instead of there is a real friend.
    You as well as others hove the ability to choose. How will you choose?
    But remember you have no one to blame but you!

  16. Steve,

    I think the problem is that most people still believe in a God that acts like Santa Claus! You know a God that picks favorites, keeps a naughty and nice list and hands out goodies only to those with special favor and punishes the rest.

    My view of God has definitely evolved over the years and while I still have faith in the Creator… I know for sure that there’s no God playing Santa Claus in the sky picking and choosing who to bless and who to protect!

    Thanks for your great question…David

  17. Steve said ” the problem with religious leaders and their doctrine is their unwillingness to undergo the scientific and critical thinking scrutiny that every other philosophy, industry, or ideology is subjected to”. This is a stereotypical statement that is not true. How do I know?

    There are a list of books by critical thinkers that discuss the Christian faith. Until you read one or more of them, and put your biases aside, you cannot say you are a critical thinker. Here is a list of them:

    Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
    Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe
    The Fingerprints of God and The Creator and the Cosmos by Hugh Ross
    The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
    The Case For Christ, The Case For The Creator, The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel

  18. To me it’s pretty simple. What ever your faith, it’s still your job to live your life and make your choices.

    While I could stand on my soap box about this next part for a while, I will keep it short. Religion in and of it’s structure is partially responsible for this. McVeigh stated that he felt bullied and that he wanted to get even with the bullies, specifically the government. For quite some time, and currently more so than ever, the government is posturing and acting as a religion. It is more and more telling people how to live their lives. The key difference being the teeth and big stick that the government has opposed to the after life carrot that religion employs. Many religions bully just the same, and Catholicism is definitely in that group.

    Both sides of the equation need to suck it up and focus on different areas. Bullies should toughen up and try to understand why they are so angry, and the bullied should toughen up and either not take it, or take it and understand that everything changes.

    In this case of a critical thinking question for the priest, it seems that he turned into a bully. He, as many, NOT ALL but many religious followers have a complex where they intend to be saved, instead of saving themselves. This is why he didn’t have an answer, he is not thinking for himself.

  19. “Where was God” can only be answered by the individual, there are too many varying beliefs. This question delves into one of the most emotionally charged topics in social humanity. Put the atheists on one side and the religious on the other and let them shout at deaf ears. Gather together the brightest minds aimed at finding the answer and people still won’t believe what they don’t want to hear. This is a great question for critical thinking, but due to human emotion is unlikely to be reasoned with objectively.

  20. If you accept the concept of God at all and you believe in an afterlife, (eternal life) then the concept of time, since it is some infinitesimal part of an infinite continuum (eternity) is irrelevant. Therefore whether you die in infancy or at a ripe old age is irrelevant.

    Man is born to die.

    The circumstances of when and how are just distracting details.

    We are unrealistically focused on the length of a life. From our merely human perspective, it is always too short and so we live in some vague form of denial, assuming on a day to day basis that it won’t happen to us, or that it should not happen when it does.

    When I was active as a financial planner a statement by a client inspired a poem that points to the absurdity of our view of life and death.

    “If” I Die”
    by Jim Keenan

    …. Then he said, “If I die….”
    I smiled and asked him why
    he thought that it would be “if” in his case?
    He laughed, but then he sighed.
    Until then, he had denied
    that he and death were even in a race.

    And it’s a race that no man wins.
    No matter when the race begins,
    it’s a race that always ends up at death’s door
    and, if you live a century
    or pass away in infancy,
    always leaves you wanting just a little more.
    © 1993

  21. To say “where” creates an anthropomorphic figure head of God? Which God are we referencing anyways Christ, Krishna, Buddha, Allah? In order to say where we also must give a physical space to something that really has no physical space? It’s like asking question, “Where is your mind?” The brain is the physical object, but where is the mind which creates thoughts and beliefs?

    I think to ask where was God raises a good question? People live people die, but it also raises the question where was God during the Tsunami, earthquakes, and hurricanes? Who dictates the moral code of Tim’s actions anyways?

    I think to be able to look at this critically we have to ask “Where God isn’t?” People look at God in the form of a belief they can put faith into? But they don’t ask what it really is?

    Our beliefs created this as a negative event, were there positive things that happened for the people, and the city of Oklahoma because it the actions of that man? I don’t know something to think about.

  22. Is god a man? A women? Perhaps we created god in our image, thus the gender. Maybe – God is a word of fallacy, that puts one above another. Perhaps God is an eternal stream of consciousness – an original thought that has pro-creates from this one thought.

    As no-one knows, save faith – we are left to speculate – but . . .

    And just maybe – we remain blinded by a god we’ve created, blind to the magnificence of the probabilities that exist in front of our eyes. If anything can be, it will be. This is the power of creation, the power of the “stream of god consciousness” many call GOD. If all things are possible, then we do indeed have free will to choose what we see. But what of the things we fail to see?

    Thanks Steve.

    Rev. Dudley

  23. In order to know whether or not God failed in this circumstance, we must first gather a summit to determine whose God is to blame for either acting to destroy, or in wisdom, choosing to do nothing as the destruction occurred at the hands of our fellow human being(s).

    In order to be objective, this summit must be fully represented. Therefore, invitations must be sent to all 7 billion on earth. Alternatively, the invitation might include a series of 4,200 check boxes from which an invitee might select an absentee representative (4,200 religions worldwide).

    This summit will begin with a general outline of allowable postulates, i.e., a discussion will ensue which will attempt to establish prevalence of certain Godlike characteristics. This will be followed by a vote that will attempt to eliminate certain less popular Gods (see Council of Nicea, circa AD325 –

    Once this is complete, the council will remain in session until all remaining Gods can be adequately represented by their respective designers.

    Finally, once all representations have been made, a vote may be called among all attendees to establish whose God is, indeed, responsible for this tragedy.

    Alternatively, discussion may lead the council to conclude that all views are merely variations in historical interpretation, leading the group to conclude that there is only one “true God”. Ensuing debate would then necessarily be centered upon why “God” would stand idly by and allow this thing to occur. And thus, the circular cycle would begin….again.

    To feel love, compassion and empathy do not require the oversight of Authority. Neither do honesty, humility, service and justice need commandments in order to produce constructive social outcomes.

    When acting in ways that harm others becomes disagreeable to those “others”, justice will occur. How this affects one’s eternal salvation in the eyes of their God, should remain within the hearts of those who are unwise enough to attempt to predict the impending judgment of that God.

  24. To answer the question first, I would purport that God was right outside the building too! It is my understanding that the government believes in separation of church and state…right! If God is constantly told to stay out of the Government affairs/life, why should God be invited to provide protection? If we keep saying, “God stay out,” I believe God has honored the request and he was right outside the building, probably in pain too!

    I appreciate your critical thinking question! I am in no way offended by it and I don’t think people of faith (regardless of which faith) should be offended either.

    I believe anyone of faith should be able to be challenged with critical thinking in any area of their faith. I don’t believe that we (people of faith) always have the answers nor should we always have the answers. I think God is big enough to handle matters, whether we know how to answer for God or not.

  25. I think we want the freedom God has given us to have choice in our lives but when our choices lead us to things like this we want our God to swoop down and stop them- do we want him swooping down when we curse a driver who cut us off or when we choose to treat another poorly- sin is sin and we also as humans want to rank it and choose what is worthy of God’s interception and what we think is just daily that “kills” people metephorically. We need to realize we have the power to make great change if we learn how to come together in love and not in our own discretion. We also need to pray like we know the God you wanted to stop this bombing really can my question to everyone is why do we not?

  26. I realize this is emotionally based… but the only way I can come anywhere close to justifying a senseless loss in my mind and heart is to believe that God needed that person (infant or elderly, sick or healthy) for a powerful purpose somewhere else. If that’s the case, we feel a loss, but the victim has actually moved on-reincarnated-to a greater purpose.

  27. God was holding my son when he was struck and killed by lightening 21 months ago – when there was no storm in sight for another hour. He ensured that his brother and friend who were both knocked unconscious were made conscious and able to retrieve Tyrell’s body. He held my boys in His arms and while I was present at Ty’s earthly birth, Cory had the privildege of being present at Ty’s return to his heavenly father. My daughter and other son were together that day, God was with them. God was with me, my husband and my parents that day. God was with us all that day. It would be narrow minded of me to assume otherwise simply because of the mortal limitations of my physical body. God was with us all that day, He is with us today, He will be with us tomorrow and forever. Life is full of choices, it is full of limitations imposed by science and logic, it is full of unpredicatbility because of the sheer number of humans on the face of this earth – all with different desires, making different choices which greatly impact the lives of others. To ask ‘Where Was God” is a feeble attempt to mortalize and immortal being! The answer is open your eyes, your ears, your heart and more importantly your mind – and you will find He was right there the entire time. He just did not conform to the expectations of our world.

  28. Life is full of life lessons. As you know, not every lesson has positive outcomes. When tend to learn more from the failures than the successes. Where was God mon that morning? He was in every one of us. The real question is what did you learn from that experience. God, the source or whatever you choose to call it, was right there providing a lesson for all of us to learn. If all you saw was a tragedy, then you didn’t learn anything thing and those poor people died in vain.
    Just like in the 9/11 tragedy, it was another lesson about the dangers of competing religions, politics, and superiority. AS long as we continue to believe that our government is the best, our religion is the best, or we are somehow better than every one else on the planet, these tragedies will continue to happen. Every human on this planet has a reason for being here and when we respect each other regardless of race,gender, or nationality and stop trying to convert every one to our way of thinking then peace can occur.
    So where was God on that morning? Right there providing us with another lesson? Did you get the lesson or did you increase your feelings of resentment or hatred toward another religion or people?

  29. I am of course assuming you meant “why didn’t God do something to prevent this terrible tragedy” when you asked the reverend Where God was at 9:00 am that morning.

    That is a reasonable assumption.

  30. In my opinion, God was there before, during, and after the event. He’s always around.

    Why didn’t he do anything? This posits the assumption that God is a ‘he’, meaning a human being. By definition, this is not the case.

    It is the human thing to do your utmost to save the lives other human beings, especially little children, women, old folks.

    To expect God to do that is ascribe human motives and emotions to him.
    This is clearly illogical… QED

    As to what God is, that’s a whole other discussion. 🙂

  31. Two thoughts,

    First, by your own words, the priest said God would protect the souls, not the bodies. The body is mortal, finite, temporary, and God has never made a secret about that. One day, some way, the body will be destroyed. The Bible only lists two people in the entire human race who did not die – Enoch and Elijah. So the only reason to ask “Where was God when” is if you believe that the body and the soul are inseparable, that when one expires so must the other. Otherwise you are trying to hold God to a promise He never made.

    Second, let’s assume that someone were to ask the question simply as a question and not an accusation. By this I do not mean to imply that you were asking the question as an accusation, but only that it is the most common intention of the question. I would answer in this way: He was where He always has been – everywhere. He was with those people who died when the bomb went off and He was with everyone who lived on after it even more so, watching, waiting to see what would happen. He was waiting to see who would buckle, and need comfort, to see who would spring to action to lend a hand to those who suffered, to see who would think “that could have been me” and take a long look in the mirror. I could go on and on. I will not quote the Bible but I will interpret it a little here. God’s primary concern is our character, and character cannot be tested except under extreme circumstances. If we fail, we can correct. But if we pass, we can hold our heads high.

  32. To me, at the bottom of it all is the question:

    Do we have the right to a life without pain, without loss of health or even life, without problems of any kind?

    The answer to this is: No!

    Life includes all of the above. There is noone to blame, not even God.

    Life simply is unfair.

    To ask “Why is this happening?” is not helpful, because it puts us into the role of the victim.

    It is up to us to accept the cards we are dealt, to take responsibillity for what is happening in our lives and to deal with it.

    This might sound harsh, but it is the only way. Because it is our job to make the world a better place, to live the best we can.

  33. Steve i don’t agree with you coz there is no interconnection between critical thinking and the invisible world, the super natural world ,we are only human. the forces of the earth are stronger than us, we can be strong and weak at the same posted some thing on approval addicts which i thing you fall a victim.cant you appreciate your existence .don’t you admire any thing in this world. you could be a messiah in the contemporary world . i think you are now self Steve hope it wont be a character flaw some day take care the world is watching you

  34. ….consequences are worth disobedience to His will revealed to us in the scriptures …

  35. First of all I would like to say that I really enjoy the book “177 Mental toughness secrets …” I have always been a critical thinker even prior to hearing about the book. The answer to the question is very complex or can be very simple depending on your level of understanding of the scriptures. In the simplest way I would describe it is; God has a plan and a purpose for each individual, we in the physical world do not and will not always understand why God allows certain things to take place. But we do know that the nature of God is good. Therefore, those you died that day were simply appointed to die that day as will every person has an appointment with death. Since God knows all things past, present and future, I He is able to make righteous decisions regarding His creation. Mankind is part of His creation. Sometimes the timing or circumstances of a persons death may seem tragic or untimely, but in al reality we all have an appointed time to enter into eternity. Only God can perfectly determine when that time is for each person. For some they entered into eternal life in pefection where there is no more pain or suffering and did not have to go through this life where we all experience it to some degree. For others they entered into eternal suffering. Depending on their personal relationship with Jesus Christ and age of accountablity, God placed them where they properly belong in eternity. On the human side, God was there on that day to recieve those that were His. He allows us to use our free will and does not violate are ability to do what we want. It is up to us to decide if the conseq

  36. The more correct question would be: Does God or the Creator influences our daily decisions? Does he stand guard over us and control every detail of our daily lives? If you agree with this theory, you would also have to agree, that we have no free will of our own, that all our actions are planned by God. Most people will more or less strongly disagree with this theory.
    So, if God does not influence all our daily decisions, which role does he play in our lives. We humans live in constant FEAR of the UNKOWN. A belief in God probably started, when mankind could not explain weather phenomenon and sickness. There was also the mystery of death and what happens afterwards. Later it seemed useful to have a moral code enforced by God, instead of fellow humans. The hope was to curtail criminal tendencies in humans. So we got the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments.
    For many religious people the belief in God and his Guiding Authority brings comfort to the daily tests and sufferings of life. Many are fearful of their own negative thoughts and impulses, and the belief in God helps them keep them in check and not live them out. In the criminal that barrier does not exist.
    If, through critical thinking, you come to the conclusion that God/Creator does not influence your daily life, then you also must take FULL responsibility for anything and everything happening in your life, both good and bad. Very few people are willing and capable to do that and you, Steve, call them, rightly, “The World Class”. Only when you can take full ownership of your mistakes, weaknesses and blunders in life, accept them and then go on with a positive attitude will you be able to tap into and harness the full power of the Universe.

  37. Dear Steve
    Hi Steve
    I also don’t know the answer to this pervading question from time began…. but I found this utube video and it has an answer to the question …. so put this in your ( pipe and smoke it !!!!….joke 🙂 browser and consider….

    Anyone can put into their search engine, “why does God not stop us from committing evil” and there are lots of answers out there, take your pick…its always good to hear/read what others have to say, it can also help us form our own beliefs by weighing the pros and cons….

  38. I think when you challenge the concept of God ( no matter what that means to you individually ) you are challenging the concept of Hope. When you take away a persons’s Hope you attack them personally and when attacked the human, it responds to protect and survive.

    I am a believer in the concept of God no matter its manifestation so I have the Hope and will defend that Hope.

    That does not diminish the question or its worthiness, just chalenges the believers faith.

    I have never been personally attacked, but believe I would respond with the Hope there is a God to Pray to if it were to happen.

  39. Steve,

    How mentally tough is it to blame God every time something bad happens. If you truly believe in God, then you know that He didn’t create a bunch of puppets. He gave us free will. If you’re going to ask where God was or is every time something goes wrong, then you better be ready to give Him all the Glory when it goes right. You asked not to quote scripture, but if you really knwe it like you say you do, then you wouldn’t be asking the question. We live in a FALLEN world. Bad tings are constantly going to happen, because man is sinful. The good news is that the Lord will come back and clean it all up.

  40. “Critical thinking and organized religion have and will always clash, and my public knock-down drag-out in Oklahoma City with a Catholic Priest is a prime example.”

    I’m surprised you make such a blatantly false statement. Just because one Catholic Priest didn’t have an answer for a tough question means he’s not a critical thinker? Can an atheist answer the question where does the universe come from? Some questions are tough even for critical thinkers.

    Also, one Catholic priest is not representative of all organized religions. Not even Catholicism. There are writings from religious thinkers of all faiths that have attempted to tackle life’s most difficult questions, including suffering. Have you studied them?

    In the Passover Seder, a ritual amongst traditional Jews, the youngest child is encouraged to ask four questions. The Jews want to inculcate the desire to ask questions. Why? Because questions lead to knowledge and wisdom.

    The question of resolving the suffering of the world with an all-seeing, all-knowing, benevolent God, is a question any critical thinker asks. This question is not new. Job asked it. Moses asked it. And rational people from the beginning of monotheism until today have asked it.

    There are a number of answers to your stated question. But I don’t think you want the answers. You demand to know the answer. “Where was your God…” is not a question, it is an accusation, it is really a statement of – I don’t care what you say because I’m so damn mad that no answer will satisfy me.” That’s why when someone says “I don’t know” you call him uncritical. “I don’t know” is certainly a valid answer to your question. It is not an admission of defeat, “okay uncle, I don’t know, so you’re right, there is no God” it is merely, that we are humans and God is infinite. We don’t know everything He does, or why He does them. That isn’t a contradiction to His existence.

    This is a critical and valid answer: We don’t know why God allows for every type of suffering that He does.

    I have other critical and valid answers for you.

    1. Ken,
      Why not? If you had the power to end human suffering, wouldn’t you? What kind of a god is this?

  41. God may have been right there ensuring that truck parked where it had. The size of the bomb and the over pressure that took that building down would mean the closest areas were basically vaporized instantly. The closest people had no knowledge, awareness or suffering. God may not stop the bad things with miracles but maybe he ensured the most innocent of the victims were welcomed into heaven without the pain and suffering of a delayed death.

  42. Steve, you already know the answer to this question because you talk about it in Day 19 of when you invite people to set out an inventory of their core beliefs. What would I have to believe in order to succeed in achieving something very important to me? in this case, for religious people, belief in god is necessary for them to achieve moral behaviour in this life, and eternal life to follow. It’s necessary for them to believe in god to achieve what is of ultimate and utmost importance to them.

    For many people, it’s a “core belief” that an all powerful, all knowing, all benevolent god exists. When the evidence is to the contrary (god knows that Timothy McVeigh is going to blow up a daycare centre; god has the power to prevent Timothy McVeigh from blowing up the daycare centre; and god nevertheless permits this suffering to be imposed upon innocent babies) religious believers want to tell us that’s because god’s reasons “surpass our understanding”. And then: they try to explain god’s reasons in various ways anyhow!!

    One rationale commonly justifying the existence of such evil — which that priest would certainly have learned in theology school but may have temporarily forgotten — is that evil exists (despite god’s foreknowledge it will happen and his ability to prevent it) because it creates an opportunity for others to “do good” by heroic action or by comforting the afflicted or by self-sacrifice. Evil is the occasion of “soul making” for those of us luckily not experiencing a particular evil directly at any given time.

    Another rationale for the existence of evil (when the evil is actually created by an individual, as in the Oklahoma bombing example — rather than uncaused or natural evil such as hurricanes or forest fires) is that god is permitting people to exercise their “free will” as an essential attribute of their humanity. Timothy McVeigh would have been less human if he could not freely choose to behave in ways which are ultimately repugnant. (“It’s only human” to the nth degree).

    I’m not finding these rationales persuasive. I don’t like the idea that my opportunity to improve my moral character is bought at the expense of others’ suffering. I don’t like the notion that free will requires people to do evil: it’s equally possible (logically) that I might have a genuine capacity to do evil but never as it happens actually get around to committing evil. If god were all powerful etc. he could just as easily have constructed people with a capacity for evil that is never actualized. And if god already knows I am going to perform evil on a given occasion, in what sense am I freely performing that evil? Besides, there is way more evil in the world than would be required for sufficient “soul making” or sufficient exercise of “free will”: Even if you buy those rationales for the existence of some evil, there is pretty clearly a superfluity of evil!!

    However, religious people adopt this core belief in the all knowing, all powerful, all benevolent god because they also believe that adopting this belief helps them more than it hurts them; that’s the nature of (their) faith. That is, they believe that by adopting this core belief in the omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent god (despite all the excessive evidence of evil, to the contrary) they will themselves become more capable of compliance with moral standards (even if perhaps not 100% compliant!) and that the result for them will be eternal and everlasting life among the blessed after death.

    It’s a bit of a wager (Pascal’s Wager). If I choose to ignore the counter evidence and “believe”, I’ve got everything to gain (eternal life) and nothing to lose (except a little inconvenience from time to time, perhaps: Sunday church instead of golf). The rewards are disproportionate, as you say about the “light discipline” of weight loss!! So as a rational actor I’d choose to believe in god.

    Think of it as lottery odds. If you could be “guaranteed” a lottery win of $100 billion by choosing to believe you were going to win . .. would you believe you were going to win? Is eternal life in paradise worth $100 billion? There you are!

    Adopting the core belief in god’s omnibenevolence etc. is what the religious think they have to believe in order to succeed in being “good” in this lifetime and in achieving eternal life after death. The faith or belief (in god) precedes the action (moral behaviour) and the action (moral behaviour) guarantees the result (eternal life)! So it’s worth it to them.

    The rest of us (the irreligious) are not good. Or: not as good as they are, anyhow!! And we’re also going directly to hell, pretty likely!!

    You clearly believe and demonstrate in your actions that it’s possible to be good in this world without adopting this core belief in the existence of god who permits evil like the Oklahoma City bombing. Maybe eternal life is not a result you seek. You might even believe that religious faith or “moral” behaviour exercised primarily for your own benefit (so that you’ll go to heaven etc.) is really pretty self-interested and not what you mean by religious faith or moral behaviour. And that the kind of god who would set such tests is not “worthy of worship” anyhow.

    So: the belief (in an all knowing, all powerful, all benevolent god) is not necessary for you to inspire the actions that would lead to the results you want. You have chosen other core beliefs that work for you instead.

    How does “reverent agnostic” work for you as a label??

  43. Where was god in timothy would be a more appropriate question. There is no such thing as a lost soul. Where was the people of the world who could have helped him. Then again, God only helps those who are willing to help themselves.

  44. Hey Steve,

    Remember me? How are you?

    I agree that people shouldn’t blindly believe in things. Everything should make logical sense.

    So you ask where was God on that day at that time? Basically meaning why he didn’t help those people? Which basically will lead people to think there must not be a God.

    The question is why do you think God was gonna save those people? Where did he promise to save other people in this world? After all life itself is designed in a way where there is Good and Evil, Pleasure and Pain, Life and Death. People need to understand why it was designed like that.

    So that doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist. In fact every single thing proves there is a God. I dare you to name me even one thing that proves otherwise?

    I do understand why you don’t like people quoting verses from scriptures, because many tend to just say the verses even if it goes against critical reasoning.

    But what if you look at it in another way. What if you are given a verse from a scripture (Holy Qur’an), but then told to analyze it logically to see if it fits with this world, will you be willing to look at verses from the scripture?

    Because I believe a person shouldn’t just push away any belief without pondering and analyzing it.

  45. Every person has free choice. Timothy McVeigh chose to slaughter innocent people. God was there taking care of each person, not here on earth but, as they joined him in his Kingdom for eternity just as he will take care of you and all of us at the proper time. Not our time, His time.

  46. We have free will to make our own choices, whether good or bad, and God is there to pick up the pieces. Many people turn to God after a crisis happens.

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