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Dec 19 2012

Apparently every tragedy is a marketing opportunity

Last Sunday on the show I had an opportunity to address Mike Huckabee’s wildly inappropriate and downright loathsome comment on the First Grade shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  Hours after the attack, Huckabee had this to say:

It’s an interesting thing. We ask why there’s violence in our schools but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we do not want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us, but we stand one day before a holy God in judgment…  Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end and we would not have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.

I had started to write a post about this, but then I got a chance to rant about him on the show instead, so I figured I wouldn’t bother.  However, we got an email expressing a similar sentiment, from a gleeful Christian practically licking her chops over the opportunity to blame atheists for an incident that had nothing to do with us.  I figure this is a good reason to kill two birds with one stone.

First, to recap, this is a rough transcript of what I said about Huckabee on TV:

These people believe that there’s a God who says, “Hey, I have the power to save 27 lives right now, but not enough people are praising My name in the school every day… so screw ‘em.”

What a dick.

There are so many levels on which that’s ridiculous.  One of them is that there’s no evidence that God ever saved anybody from a shooting, that’s wishful thinking.  The other is the horrifically scummy and callous belief that the all powerful God is not saving the lives of six-year-olds, because he’s throwing a temper tantrum over some legislation that says teachers aren’t allowed to promote their personal religion in school.  He’s taking it out on little kids.

Screw that god, and screw Mike Huckabee.

Compounding this stupidity is the email we received from Australia, which I will address a bit at a time.

I have only just heard about the massacre at the newtown school.
My condolences go out to all involved, this I’m sure this has even caused the hardest if hearts to shed a tear.
Next time you atheists ask why did this tragedy happen -
Very simple:
No moral code, No point of reference for ethics and morality = A 20 year old who has become a law unto himself.
Plain and  simple that even a child will understand.

It would be better to say that only a child would understand that — or rather, someone whose mental and emotional development has been so completely stunted by religious indoctrination that he thinks that religion owns morality.

In reality, it’s nothing more than a common marketing ploy by a certain breed of extremely smug theist.  You pick a thing which you consider desirable, you give credit to God without justifying your assumption that God exists and did anything, and then you chastise non-believers for using that thing which “belongs” only to you and God.  What that thing is varies from discussion to discussion: a moral code, the laws of logic, traditional marriage, the scientific method.  Doesn’t matter what it is, just say God owns it and atheists are hereby prohibited from using it.  No need to provide any justification for this claim.

It’s not unlike a dog going around peeing on everything.  Once the thing smells like you, you just say you own the thing.  Like this:

This is in violation to Christ’s teachings – Not in violation to atheism.

Here’s the thing, though.  Christianity doesn’t, in actual fact, own morality.  Christians didn’t invent ethics, the Bible didn’t invent laws, and if there is actually no God, no amount of fervently believing in a non-existent God will make the frequently terrible teachings of the Bible in any way objective.  At best what this person is demanding is that we assume that the particular brand of morality she believes is true, and order everyone else to follow it uncritically, without stopping to ask themselves whether some aspects of those rules might be corrupted or harmful.

What she’s said here doesn’t even make any sense from a secular point of view. “A 20 year old who has become a law unto himself”???  A lunatic with a gun has no claim to be “a law,” any more than a Christian with delusions of theocratic utopia has the right to go around lynching homosexuals for the glory of her God.  The usual line about this is that atheists believe that random murders will somehow convey an evolutionary advantage.  Nowhere is that more idiotic an idea than in this particular case.  Adam Lanza hasn’t gained a selective advantage from his actions, seeing as he is now dead and has no children.  It hasn’t improved his life; it’s ended it.  If he had lived, it wouldn’t have improved his social standing or ability to get a girlfriend; he’d probably be locked up for life if not executed.  Even the most short-sighted kind of secular morality based on pure self-interest couldn’t make sense out of that.

To Mike Huckabee’s claim that shootings happen in places where the omnipotent God is somehow prevented from entering, I suggest people look into the mass shooting that occurred earlier this year at Oikos University, a Christian school in Oakland.  To the emailer’s point, the shooter was a former student of the Christian school, and there is no indication that he was an atheist, although I’m sure that anyone could play the “no true Christian” fallacy / copout.

The god also failed to provide a magical shield of protection around the West Nickel Mines Amish school, which experienced another tragedy with seven dead in 2006.  The shooter wasn’t Amish, but again, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that he was an atheist either.

Nor is there any demonstrated correlation between a country’s self-professed religiosity and low crime rates.  Quite possibly the opposite, in fact: as a study by Gregory S. Paul highlighted,

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies. The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly.”

Nevertheless, not to be deterred by considering things like “facts” and “reality,” our emailer plows ahead:

Dog eat dog = atheism.
Next time you guys have a go at a street preacher please consider and think this:
A street preacher may reach the heart, mind and soul of someone who is on their way to rape, bash or kill someone.
They may reach the depth of someone’s soul who may be on their way to shoot 28 people at a school.
If this young man would of tasted Jesus Christ we may have even the slightest chance of this not happening. It is a possibility before you scoff.

Oh, I do more than just scoff.  I am morally repulsed by this individual’s complete callousness in the face of real human lives wasted.  You don’t need to believe in God to have a basic level of empathy for all human beings.  Religion doesn’t give people a moral code.  People don’t feel sad about the death of children because a God has ordered them to feel sad.  We feel it because we’ve been children, we’ve known children, we’ve known parents, we’ve known what it is like to sacrifice your energy for the benefit of another person.  I fear for my son’s life and his future all the time, and I do everything I can to keep him safe, and to equip him with the tools that he’ll need to live a happy and satisfying life.

The first thing she did in this email was pay curt lip service to actually caring about the lives lost, but then she launched into the sales pitch immediately.  This is not the behavior of somebody who is genuinely saddened by tragedy — this is a person who is randomly slinging blame at those who are not a member of her club.  It’s nothing more than a membership drive, only adding to the amount of hate in the world, not trying to understand social problems and make them better.  It is the action of a person without a conscience or real love.

Lots of Christians understand empathy and suffering, and do what they can to make it better.  Most of them don’t use it as a cynical way to lash out at people who don’t go to their church.  For those few who would do such a thing, they deserve all the contempt that comes their way.

131 comments

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  1. 1
    Alicia

    I am sooo very glad you addressed this. As I have stated, even now they are circulating petitions on FACEBOOK with over 100 k signatures to put prayer BACK IN SCHOOLS-. Folks, we cannot go backwards. A show needs to be done to counter this. You know they will use the emotional momentum of this tragedy coupled with fear (as they always do) to get this going…we can’t allow that to happen.

    1. 1.1
      Jasper of Maine

      Internet petitions don’t tend to carry a whole lot of weight, especially when we’re talking about something that is clearly unconstitutional, and backed up by lots and lots of legal precedent. It’s not like these people didn’t have this opinion before.

      1. Alicia

        Yeah, but my biggest fear is that people tend to let their guards down and behave irrationally after tragedies. The religious right LOOKS for these types of opportunities to try to get a foothold back into the public consciousness to control them. They will stop at nothing to regain the power they once had…Ugggh I wish these old religitards would just die off already!

    2. 1.2
      Sonorus

      In between undergrad and grad school I substitute taught for a few months. This was in the burbs of a major city. I had students from a lot of ethnic groups (not just black and white). Kids with parents or grandparents from China, India, Viet Nam and many other places. I never asked any of them what their religion was because it’s none of my business but after listening to some nitwit scream about putting prayer back in the schools I looked around at these kids and wondered what prayer exactly would accommodate all the religious kids. Even without accounting for the children whose parents wouldn’t want them being indoctrinated into any religion, how would we respect this many traditions without coming up with something so vapid as to be a huge wast of everyone’s time. Of course when Huckabee wants prayer back in schools he means Protestant Christian prayer not Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, or Catholic prayer. These folks would have an even bigger fit if their kids were being taught Buddhist chanting and meditation or a prayer to the virgin Mary.

      1. Alicia

        Someone here made the excellent point of constantly reminding folks that individual prayer and christian groups are allowed in schools–just that we can’t allow state lead prayer over the loud speakers. I think we need to keep pointing this out and tell them to look up the actual law–maybe information will shut up the intelligent yet ill advised. Fire breathing idiots will not be swayed from their course however–those are the ones we have to beat back with logic sticks–lol

  2. 2
    Jasper of Maine

    The usual line about this is that atheists somehow believe that random murders would convey some kind of evolutionary advantage.

    Just an observation – but I swear the only people I ever hear asserting or advocating “social darwinism” are theists/Republicans. The “Dog eat dog = atheism” bit is straight-up Republicanism.

    Massive amounts of projection here.

    1. 2.1
      Alicia

      Agreed and cosigned–I am sickened and more than a little bit worried. The religious right are master manipulators as evidenced by Rush Limbaugh’s legion of followers as well as Faux News. People tend to run to churches after tragedies looking for “answers”:…

    2. 2.2
      Akira MacKenzie

      Well… with the exception of the Randiods.

      1. Akira MacKenzie

        Whoops! I meant “Randoids.”

        1. starskeptic

          “Randroids”

          1. Alicia

            LOL!!! Randriods–must use!

    3. 2.3
      Sonorus

      The same folks also can’t tell the difference between Jesus of Nazareth and Ayn Rand.

  3. 3
    gregorylynn

    I have no patience left for these immoral judgemental fucks who tell me I have no moral code because I don’t believe in their invisible sky fairy.

    Christianity is fundamentally immoral.

    Kicking people out of paradise for learning about the difference between good and evil is immoral.

    The entire concept of original sin, where people are tainted by the actions of an ancient ancestor is immoral.

    The concept of atonement is immoral.

    For fuck’s sake, the central story of Christianity is human sacrifice, and they engage in ritual cannibalism and they have the stones to accuse us of not having a moral code?

    Fuck that.

    1. 3.1
      Alicia

      with a capital F on the fuck–I am so pissed of right now I don’t know what to do…

  4. 4
    James Roig

    If we use Huckabee’s logic, I guess we can blame Segregation on prayer in school. Segregation and prayer ended close to each other, so it must be connected.

    Now reality. Segregation is not connected to prayer in school, just like violence is not connected to prayer in school. the people who think it is, don’t think at all.

    1. 4.1
      Dalillama, Schmott Guy

      The first part’s wrong. There was difinitely a connection betwwen segregation and prayer in schools: the same people were out in force supporting both,.

    2. 4.2
      Alicia

      Didn’t you get the memo–reality and the Christian right don’t hang.

  5. 5
    Misanthropic Muse

    I seriously can’t even log into facebook anymore because of the sheer number of these putrid “we need to get god back into school” quotes in regards to the tragedy. I have asked people, point blank: “How would teacher led prayer, or hell, even establishing a theocracy stop an unstable person from harming others? Where none of these kids Christians? Did they not pray at home with their families or in Church? Time and time again, the questions went ignored.

    1. 5.1
      Alicia

      Just shaking my head–I feel yah and join you in the scathing disgust. The questions get ignored because, like most dogmatic thinkers, they simply desire to push through their agenda with no idea of consequences. Getting prayer back into schools is all that matters. Logic falls on rhetoric filled ears. After reading a post here–I was able to challenge them with the idea that some shootings have happened in Christian schools as well–again crickets. These folks are afraid and ill informed–a bad cocktail when it comes to the religious right.

      1. Misanthropic Muse

        I’ve seen replies to the whole ‘happened in religious schools’ thing and the answer is: They were the wrong denomination! If that train of thought were correct then all the church leaders have to duke it out have to decide which denomination is the actual correct one that all teachers would then be required to be in order to have a successful school prayer. Also, all the kids would have to convert too for it to work.

        I really am appalled by this level of stupidity this country has been showing since this happened. We look like lunatics more than ever. These are people that want to force their religious ideologies on others in schools while insisting that their constitutional rights are at stake because some people wanna take away assault weapons. I think I’m going to puke.

        1. Alicia

          I am more than a bit saddened–but hey–the bright side could be that the “pimple’s head” has risen to the surface and can now be “popped” so to speak…okay–sorry for the gross visual but…lol

          Can we now clean house?

        2. Bruce

          Careful what you wish for Misanthropic Muse, remember there are MORE religions than christianity out there. Should they all “duke it out” the loosers might not be too happy about having to convert!

    2. 5.2
      Sonorus

      Fortunately I unfriended all those types when they posted pics of themselves holding bags from Chick-fil-A on Mike Huckabee’s well-orchestrated “put the gays in their place” day last spring. goodbye and good riddance.

      1. Alicia

        *applauded twice* I’ve done the same and MAN can I breathe easier now–now most of the stuff I see on my feed is sane–most….lol

    3. 5.3
      AhmNee

      I pretty much answer all of these I see with “Which god are we suggesting we put back into schools? I vote for Odin.”

  6. 6
    Matt Dillahunty

    I’d also like to say: To all of the Christians out there who want to tell their children that godlessness is to blame for tragedies like this…

    Teaching your children that people who don’t believe in god are a dangerous threat to their life is sick. I’m sorry that your religion has poisoned your mind and skewed your moral compass. I’m sorry that your kids are at risk for having their minds similarly polluted. But mostly, I’m sorry for all the people whose lives are going to made worse because of the hatred you spew, while professing to be loving…

    Your kid is going to be attending school with other children who are atheists and whose families are atheists. You are setting up a situation where kids are ostracized based on your backward, bigoted, bullshit. You are setting up the sort of divisive situation that results in the bullying that may contribute to situations like this as well as suicides and depression and more.

    You are part of the problem. Your particular strain of “Christian love” is perverse and vile. You should be ashamed.

    1. 6.1
      Alicia

      Can I get a R’ amen!

    2. 6.2
      Brian Kellogg

      If anything becoming an atheist and leaving my invisible friend’s land of make believe behind creates a far deeper and richer respect for life when one realizes that this short life is more than likely all there is. That’s just this atheist’s testimony though.

      1. Alicia

        I feel the same way–and finding happiness outside of god, through my family–my kids, my pursuits–also makes me happier. It is great to know that I can make good, sound decisions in interpersonal relationships, based on love and empathy and not because I am afraid of eternal damnation. Really, such scare tactics have out lived their usefulness.

    3. 6.3
      Chagrined

      Matt,

      Regarding your statements: “But mostly, I’m sorry for all the people whose lives are going to made worse because of the hatred you spew, while professing to be loving …” and ” … But mostly, I’m sorry for all the people whose lives are going to made worse because of the hatred you spew, while professing to be loving”

      I was unfortunately on both the giving and receiving side of this hatred.

      My own story pales compared to the loss of even one precious child, however it has given me some idea of the smugness that so many Christians have when they believe they are some kind of higher moral ground that justifies their hatred and attempts to control others.

      I spent two decades in various forms of fundamentalist Christianity as an adult. Because I, as a Christian, had been divorced in my 20′s and wanted to remarry but still “live for Jesus” I faced emotionally devastating shame at nearly every turn by strictures backed up by Christ and Paul’s teachings on this wretched subject. All of this had a MAJOR impact on my mental health and contributing to several incredibly self-defeating bad decisions. The outcome has set me back financially for 10 years, significantly impacted an area of my physical health, and caused me “forsake” (for “Jesus” of course) my own serious artistic pursuits for many years.

      Thankfully I have been slowly rebuilding my life sans deity for the past 2.5 years.

    4. 6.4
      Wayne

      Fundamentalist parents don’t see the ostracization of their children as a bad thing. It reinforces their religious views by allowing their child to play the victim card. A victim of the godless. Validation of the fundamental teachings of the suffering of Jesus. The high morality of self sacrifice for the greater good.The same psychosis that keeps the Phelps Klan going.

  7. 7
    Amber B

    Wow the stupidity of some people makes me sad

  8. 8
    davidhart

    Maybe Huckabee and his fellow ghouls don’t realise it, but they’ve just come up with a testable hypothesis.

    I’m sure everyone here already agrees that there aren’t enough crossover trials in public policy … well here’s how this one goes:

    We divide the country into two equally population-sized regions, gerrymandered however you like so as to match the two regions for as many socioeconomic and cultural indicators as we can, then for a period of, say, ten years, we allow public schools in one of the regions to have teacher-led prayers, while the other operates under the current law. Then after ten years, we swap over, and have another ten years with teacher-led prayers in the second region but not the first. This crossover should cancel out any other factors that may be muddying the data. Then after 20 years we see if we can determine any statistically significant difference between the rates of school shootings in a with-teacher-led-prayer region and a without-teacher-led-prayer region.

    Then if the answer turns out positive … fine, we all concede that apparently prayer does have some sort of protective effect against school shootings, and we focus our attention on figuring out what mechanism makes that effect work.
    And if it turns out negative, the ghouls will stop making these claims every time something like this happens. No? Well, at least we’ll have hard data to wave at them.

    1. 8.1
      Alicia

      They’d still manage to spin it to their advantage, and I am more than sure the devil would get tossed in there somewhere…

    2. 8.2
      Jamie

      I thought the fact that shootings happen in religious schools (where I think it’s safe to assume there are teacher-led prayers) already invalidates the point that schools with prayer are immune to shootings.

      1. Alicia

        they come up with their logical fallacies to combat this and when all else fails–the devil did it. What a great paradigm to live life by , eh?

    3. 8.3
      garnetstar

      Absolutely testable, and I think your experiment is a great one.

      We can add that data to all the school shootings and bombings that have occured in public schools pre-1962, when government-mandated school prayer was universal. Chris Rodda has a long list.

      Huckabee’s heard of the Bath School disaster, right? in 1927, during the era of teacher-led prayer, a staff member blew up the Bath School in Michigan, killing 38 elementary school children and six adults. A good data point.

  9. 9
    leeslonaker

    I’ve seen interviews on television ( I concede that the media has been less than reliable ) that indicated that the mother of the young man who committed this atrocious act was a “prepper”. She was also the legal owner of the arsenal used to perpetrate this atrocity. It seems to me that the more religious some one is, the more likely they are to give credence to what ever wacky end of times nonsense is the flavor of the week. We will probably never know why this young man decided to murder his mother and 26 other innocent people, but it would not surprise me to find that his twisted mind thought that he was saving them from the horror of the coming apocalypse, and sending them to a better place. Not the kind of thing an atheist is likely to do.

    1. 9.1
      rvkevin

      I heard that she was a prepper from the Daily Mail, and they are notorious for being unreliable. I know the media sometimes gets stories from other media sources, so they may just be rehashing someone else’s speculation based on the number of firearms that she owned. As such, I’m going to be skeptical. Twelve firearms may sound like a lot, but it’s probably not to a gun owner.

      1. Sonorus

        Be careful with early news reports. Even now, almost everything we “know” from Columbine is out and out false. But once a story is repeated often enough it becomes part of the narrative and can’t be removed.

  10. 10
    leeslonaker

    And another thing, I imagine there were a lot of prayers offered in those horrible moments for all the good it did.

  11. 11
    MCB

    I think the thing that annoys me the most is that someone like Huckabee can say shit like this and be a serious presidential candidate.But, write a book like Dawkins suggesting that basing your opinions around two thousand year old superstitions may be a poor life choice and–quelle horreur!–that’s intolerant.

    1. 11.1
      Alicia

      shows you how backwards these folks can be and why I am seriously afraid of them grabbing the reigns again. Just imagine what would happen to our godless asses if they do. Screw 12-21-2012 the end of the world is neigh and the Christian Reich is bringing it.

  12. 12
    m6wg4bxw

    A point I’d like to see emphasized is the fact that children in public school are free to privately practice their religion. They can pray, read the bible, and wish for the protection of a god as long as it doesn’t interfere with their school work.

    The rationale of those like Huckabee leads to blaming the children for not being good enough Christians.

    1. 12.1
      John Kruger

      Exactly. I am curious why prayers are supposed to work better when they are not voluntary.

    2. 12.2
      Sonorus

      My favorite quote on that topic is from George Will. “As long as there are math tests, there will be prayer in the public school.” It’s a clever one-liner but it makes the point. If someone wants to pray no one can stop them. What the court stopped is telling other people when, where and how to pray.

  13. 13
    mitchmckenzie

    Turns out Adam Lanza Attended St. Rose Catholic School.

  14. 14
    James Hay

    I’ve seen people write stuff on Facebook like “1000 prayers” is God on social media now? ‘Cos if he’s moved forward from the bronze age thing then maybe we can convince him to rid his horrible book and start a better one, take us all and start a better world actually, cos he fucked up with this one!…Oh no sorry that’s my fault because my great great great (times a billion) grandfather (who was not human btw) ate some shelfish because he was hungry…MY BAD!

  15. 15
    Alex Quirk

    The same number of children who were killed in this attack die every minute from starvation worldwide. The idea that this attack is an unimaginable tragedy and god couldn’t possibly have allowed it, while a loss of preventable infant life on the same scale occurs every minute of every day, and has done so for decades strikes me as a bit ridiculous. Especially as death from starvation is more prolonged, painful and hopeless than being shot. I dont see any reason why god should be expected to care more about those 20 kids than the any of millions lost to hunger in the past couple of decades, if theists are happy with their god not caring about those people then why should they be bothered about his continued indifference?

    1. 15.1
      Sonorus

      It is part of our nature to ignore the constant danger and tragedy and react more strongly to the sudden or unexpected ones. For a rather mundane example, I am far more likely to die from slipping in my bathtub/shower and hitting my head than I am to be in a plane crash. Do I even think about the bathroom dangers (beyond putting the something in the floor to make slipping less likely)? No. Do I have some mild fear about flying? Yes. Is that logical? Of course not. We could not bear to be as upset about the constant suffering in our world as we are about Sandy Hook. So we tune it out. I agree that is bad, but it’s also understandable.

      From a religious perspective, during the ongoing Darfur crisis I was encouraging my friends to write to elected officials to try to do something. One good friend who is Catholic responded to the information about 11 year old girls being gang raped and tortured with “I just don’t understand how a loving compassionate God could allow that to happen.” I replied, “He wouldn’t.” The answer is quite obvious once you are willing to look at it logically. The god she believes in is in dissonance with the world in which she lives. But she would rather hang on to her belief than confront the idea of a world where an old man with a beard won’t make everything right for her. She ignored me and I never brought it up again. She just doesn’t want to see the world. No one is coming to fix these things for us. Either we will work to alleviate hunger and disease and violence or it will continue. Those are our only options.

  16. 16
    smrnda

    I actually think religion, Christianity in particular, makes people a lot less moral, especially the Protestant/Evangelical varieties. First, the basic premise is what makes god happy is whether you believe a book full of absurd myths. Second, is that as long as you spout the right slogans or make your trip to the priest, you’re totally forgiven of any wrongdoing and anybody who still holds your actions against you is the bad guy, even when you did horrible things. I don’t think faith in Jesus stops people from doing bad things, but it sure helps people who do bad things find an easy way out of feeling guilty or responsible.

    The other idea is that suffering is somehow redemptive. If there’s meaning in suffering, then people have an excuse to remain passive and indifferent in the face of suffering. Couple this with the belief that all the important problems are spiritual, and you have a great worldview for a person who wants to feel smug, be lazy, and even disparage people who actually try to make the world a better place. After all, they aren’t fixing the spiritual problems…

    In the end, the facts speak for themselves in that Christian belief is not correlated with better outcomes.

  17. 17
    Lauren

    “A street preacher may reach the heart, mind and soul of someone who is on their way to rape, bash or kill someone.”

    I don’t know about you, but when ever I see a street preacher, they are usually the fire and brimstone lunatics with microphones and are shouting at passers about how they are going to hell. I can’t recall ever seeing a soft spoken, gentile, love thy neighbor street preacher. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear street preacher is the WBC and the Phelps family. If anything, I would think that if Adam Lanza had passed a street preacher, he would have had his adrenaline pumped up just a little bit more and have had some more reasons for his list of why to do the immoral acts that he did. And as far as I know, there have not been any report of the shooter being Atheist so I am super confused.

    1. 17.1
      Sonorus

      “I’m going to stop and rethink my plan to rape/steal/murder thanks to this raving lunatic on the corner,” said no one ever.

      1. Alicia

        High five on that one–I usually cross the street and quicken my footsteps once I encounter one of those idiots…

        1. Sonorus

          P.S. I defend the right of crazy religious people to preach on the street corner so long as they don’t block traffic. That doesn’t mean they have the right for anyone to pay attention to them but I just wanted to be clear that I had no interest in stripping anyone of their free speech or expression or religious rights. I also retain my rights to ignore them, roll my eyes, make wisecracks at their expense and any other form of speech or expression.

          1. Alicia

            Co-signed, I will fight like Voltaire to allow people to believe any dumb shit they want but I will make fun of the ones who default into stupid crap like its a Monty Python skit :-)

    2. 17.2
      stever

      If the potential killer just wans to kill somebody and didn’t care who, then the street preacher might save some innocent bystander by drawing the crazy’s attack.

      BTW, has anyone pointed out to the anti-Constitution preachers that we never “took God out of the schools.” At least not according to Christian dogma, which holds that God is omnipresent and omnipotent, so no human agency can exclude God from anywhere. The fact that God was never there to begin with is another issue.

      1. Alicia

        excellent, excellent point…

  18. 18
    mike hhhh

    Stop saying religious right and bashing a political side. Im an atheist and i am also a liberal republican. To call the right religious is disrespect hundreds of thousands of ppl like myself. This is not political. It is about religion. Again i am an atheist and im a liberal republican. If u did ur research u would know we r out there. Why cant u leave it at the religious and not the religious right. You are imposing your political views which is what christians do with their religious views. This is a huge problem with many atheists. You are all leaving a bad taste in my mouth. You are not helping our cause, you are hindering it. Leave it politics out of it and grow up

    1. 18.1
      MCB

      I’m glad to hear that. The GOP needs more moderates. Good luck taking back your party from the lunatics.

      1. Mike Hotchkiss

        Haha thanks i need all the help i can get. I tried praying but we all know how that worked out

    2. 18.2
      Alicia

      It’s the RELIGIOUS RIGHT that is pushing POLITICAL AGENDAS. If that doesn’t apply to you then it doesn’t apply. When I was in church my pastor used to say “a hit dig will holler” . Why are you so all fired offended if what we are saying doesn’t apply to you? Obviously we are referring to the radical POLITICAL fringe who, as we speak now lobbying to get prayer back ins schools. But I guess we shouldn’t mention that- until — oopsie — prayer is back in schools???? Hiding behind ill advised political correctness makes YOU part of the problem, not the other way around!

      1. Mike Hotchkiss

        Oh wow. You really think that prayer could possibly go back in public schools? I can see you havent lost all of your christian views because that is pretty gullible. You added the right into it. Im a part of the right. Im an atheist. What you said about radicals is correct. I would love to see what percentage of the complete right that you think is radical.

        1. Alicia

          Hey, when fear and hysteria rule the day anything is possible. How do stupid laws get put into place ( and believe me we still have them even to this day–I know–I live in GA, where a representative on the state science committee disavows evolution is real and claims it is a tool of the devil. YE HAW! Stupid laws get put on the books when (1) people are misinformed and manipulated after tragedies (2) apathy and the self assured notion that reason will always prevail. I am no gun nut but I am not for banning them either. All you have to do is look at the hysterical dialogue we having about the second amendment to see how this could happen.

    3. 18.3
      Alex Quirk

      In fairness only one person has mentioned ‘the religious right’ and its a fact that due to the deliberate courting of the evangelicals and protestants by the republicans in the 80′s, and the associated conflating of religious values, family values and right wing values, having strong religious views is a good indicator of being right wing and vice versa. I agree with you that its a bad idea to associate a political leaning with a religious position though, and i get annoyed when people do it, but its easy to see why it happens. It would give your point a bit more weight if you bothered to spell correctly too.

      1. Mike Hotchkiss

        Im sorry for the mistakes, as i am on a cell phone witha slightly broken screen. I do the same thing when i see errors so i cant get mad at u for that.

      2. Alicia

        But it is primarily the religious right pushing this shit to the fore, can we not call a spade a spade? If I got pussy foot around labels then I might as well go back to the church. I am all for pointing out elephants in rooms and fuck if anyone feels uncomfortable about it. If the terminology doesn’t apply specifically to a given group like, I dunno, liberal republicans, then what’s the issue? Nine times out of ten the bible thumping, foaming at the mouth politicos are part of the far, extreme political right. As a black person, I am not offended if someone mentions a black person committed a particular crime. For example, rightfully calling OJ a murderer does not mean I am a murderer, however, if you say ALL black people are murderers then we got a problem. A particular group was mentioned, and just like the KKK, can be identified by their actions. A lot of the bullshit they do is based on–you guess it–political agendas…

        As for them not being representative of the entire party–good–shout them muther frickers down–change your image–become a mouth piece. Those who are silent to oppression become part and parcel to it. Don’t simply ‘dislike” the image or folks who react to it , do something about it.

        1. Mike Hotchkiss

          You are missing the point ma`am. U said nine out of ten bible thumpers are from the right. Agreed. However, are nine out of ten from the right bible thumpers? No, not even close. We all realize the majority of bible thumpers are republicans. That does not mean the majority of republicans are bible thumpers.

          1. Alicia

            All right, I can see what you are saying but when I mention the religious right I am speaking particularly to the majority o’ folks who do that. Okay, yeah, I am aware there are some folks outside the right who do dumb shit as well…just like, by and large, I find atheists to be open minded and accepting to an extent, but there are some who are racist, sexist, homophobic–I get that…

            Admittedly, I do have a big bias and prejudice when it those mofos. As I said, I live in the south and most of the racism I have dealt with in my life was at their hands. I recall baby sitting/watching a conservative religious couple’s kids in my early twenties for a bit of money. Sadly, I’d hear them spout racist crap whenever I was around or helping out with the kiddos. On one occasion we were watching a news report about a back family who had a cross burned on their front lawn to protest them moving into an all white neighborhood.

            “Well, that’s what they get for going where they were not wanted”, the wife exclaimed huffily.

            When I mentioned hat this was America and we should all have the same opportunities irregardless of ethnicity –I was shouted down.

            Folks like that think there are two Americas–one for them, one for folks like me. In the same breath they will say that “everyone” has the same choices in life and wonder why so many blacks have a hard time getting ahead!

            Not isolated incidents, but not an everyday occurrences either. Still, when it happens it stings and more often than not it was a conservative dealing the blow ( heck one of my so called Republican friends came to costume party I was invited to in black face). Makes a lasting impression.

            So yeah, ain’t no love most between me and religious nutjobs, and in particular, those of the Elephant tribe, but I am working on the whole seething hatred thing–speaking of which…

            I met and married an Irish republican, but hey, he’s different, right? LOL, What a world.

          2. Mike Hotchkiss

            Im very sorry u had to deal with that. I just wish we could all get along. I have noticed atheists are more humanistic than any other “group”.

          3. Alicia

            Thanks Mike–I noted that too, which is why I feel more comfortable on this side of the aisle–and I am trying not to be so knee jerk and guarded in this regards–takes time, ya know :-)

            *hugs*

            A

    4. 18.4
      Scott

      I understand where you’re coming from, but in fairness, “Religious Right” does not refer to the entire GOP, only to the Evangelical faction of the Right. According to Christianitytoday.com, it was actually Jerry Falwell who coined the phrase to describe the group Moral Majority. It has taken on a pejorative tone but, again, it only refers to the Evangelical wing of the GOP, not all Republicans.

      “Jerry Falwell, cofounder of the Moral Majority, self-applied the Religious Right label until it started taking a more negative connotation, according to John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.” — http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/februaryweb-only/106-42.0.html

      1. Alicia

        Thanks for making that point *bows*

      2. Mike Hotchkiss

        I wasnt aware of that sir and i would like to thank you for the info. I would like to apologize for seeming upset if thats what she meant, as i was ignorant to the knowledge of your response.

        1. Alicia

          oh you good hun :-)

      3. Sonorus

        To be fair, footage from the southern GOP state conventions looks like a religious rally rather than a political one including praise choruses and speaking in tongues and everyone with their hands in the air. That’s certainly not the GOP in all 50 states, but in quite a few it is.

    5. 18.5
      Sonorus

      Ummm.

      Religious right is a subgroup of the right who are also religious. There is also a religious left and nonreligious on both the right and the left. No one is saying that the right is all religious. No one. How ridiculous.

  19. 19
    jdon

    Damnit, Australia.

    I like to pretend we don’t have people like you. Way to shatter the dream.

    1. 19.1
      Chris L

      Yep. It’s less stressful when we can pretend all the fools are somewhere else.

  20. 20
    mitchmckenzie

    Interesting little video from CNN about the right to challenge god and ask where the hell where you when this guy was killing 5 year olds.

  21. 21
    mamba24

    Big topic for the next NP’s episode? Big facepalm when I heard about Huckabee’s comment.

    1. 21.1
      Alicia

      That would be awesome-I’d love to see Matt’s take on this BS–Or Russell’s…

  22. 22
    helensotiriadis

    god is a mirror.

    so i say to huckabee and his clones: your representation of your god is a reflection of who you are.

    if you’re telling me that your god vindictively caused and/or allowed children to die a violent death because people aren’t being forced to grovel on the ground to worship it, you’re showing us exactly who YOU are: a repulsive monster.

  23. 23
    Warp

    Let’s assume that mandatory prayers and all kinds of other religious activities were successfully introduced in schools, and a new shooting inevitably happens at one point or another. Would these Christians recant their position and admit that prayer in schools (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with shootings? Of course not. They would simply argue that they are not praying enough, or that there are children of atheist parents in the school, or of parents who are pro-gay, pro-abortion and pro-whatever Christians happen to hate.

    Let’s assume that they succeed in going so far as to making the entire country a totalitarian theocracy of such scale that even the most fundamentalist muslim countries would be envious of. Atheism, homosexuality, wrong religions and everything that Christians hate is outlawed and severely punished, mandatory prayers and worship is everywhere, at all times, all schools are basically creationist Bible schools where Christianity is shoved on the students at all times and (actual) science is basically banned and written out of history. And then the inevitable shooting happens sooner or later. Would Christians then recant their position and admit that it has nothing to do with how religious the country or the schooling system is? Of course not. They will start blaming people of not having enough faith, of committing sins… of something. Anything. There’s always something they can invent to explain why the tragedies are still happening. Admitting being wrong is just not an option.

    1. 23.1
      Alicia

      Exactly–which is why we must keep an eye on these nutcases and make sure they do not drag us back to the stone ages…

    2. 23.2
      Wayne

      Never underestimate the power of people to creatively rationalize anything.

  24. 24
    gshelley

    I don’t think it even occurs to these people to wonder about Lanza’s beliefs. In their minds, he did something terrible, so he must be an atheist. It doesn’t matter that you can use Christian theology to justify his actions. Hell, people have pretty much done that (Facebook posts such as these kids get to spend Christmas with Jesus, the best present ever or that god has called them home).

  25. 25
    ___stephen

    “Even the most short-sighted of secular morality based on pure self-interest couldn’t make sense out of that”?

    You haven’t heard the one about Ayn Rand and the serial killer then:

    “Objectivist” philosopher and burgeoning novelist Ayn Rand writes admiringly of one of her heroes, serial killer William Edward Hickman. She admires Hickman’s stated credo, “What is good for me is right.” In her journals, Rand writes in response, “The best and strongest expression of a real man’s psychology I have heard.” Rand is planning a novel, The Little Street, to feature a character based on Hickman, who she considers her “ideal man.” In her journals, Rand writes that Hickman “is born with a wonderful, free, light consciousness—[resulting from] the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling. He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people.… Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should.”

    1. 25.1
      Russell Glasser

      Well yes, actually I wrote about Ayn Rand’s obsession with a serial killer.

      http://kazimskorner.blogspot.com/2009/03/ayn-rands-weird-obsession-with-killer.html

      So I guess I had blocked that out, or else I don’t consider anything Ayn Rand wrote to be “morality.”

      1. ___stephen

        Touché. It’s hard enough to consider her work to be “philosophy” at all.

        1. Sonorus

          It’s certainly not moral. It frightens me how much her ideas have permeated society even among people who have no idea who she was.

  26. 26
    Helmi

    It’s not in violation of atheism, and ALSO not in violation of theism. That’s because “theism” and “atheism” aren’t systems, but words to describe whether you believe in a deity or not. It is, however, in violation of pretty much every moral code on the planet – none of which evidently come from any god(s).

    Also, Huckabee is a disgusting exploitative lying POS.

  27. 27
    Ramil

    Huckabee and christians agreeing with him really hadnt thought his statements out.they just described how PUNY their so-called god is.imagine a god that can be escorted out of communities?and now,imagine the devil possessing a young man to shoot innocent children.what’s the best thing their god does?he manifests himself in the braveness of the police,who were late by the way.manifests himself in the president who’s not even in Connecticut.and manifests himself in the HUGS and KISSES of the people after the incident.wow,what a powerful god indeed.and christians go emotional “aww indeed,to god be the glory”…

  28. 28
    Sonorus

    At a nearby church the Sunday morning after the shootings, the only mention from the pulpit of that tragedy was to remark that far more “children were aborted” than die in school shootings.

    No, I don’t engage people like that. I also don’t get in the faces of street preachers either. I used to live in nyc and they were all around and the most batsh*t crazy people I’ve ever come across.

    No empathy, no compassion, no common decency. These folks are going to uphold morality? spare me. Hypocrites all. I know too many of them personally. Yes, we’d be better off in a world run by non-religious people assuming they have the aforementioned empathy and compassion for other people. Most of us do. What’s shocking is how many supposedly “good” people do not. In fact the louder they scream about morality and god, the less likely they are to have any concern for anything except their own money and power. Sad.

    1. 28.1
      Alicia

      Yep–I wasted twenty whole years in that coo-coo land with only occasional glimpse of happiness from being wrapped in the arms of my “savior”. I can’t claim to always be happy now–but the quality of my life, and the knowledge that I am INVICTUS as it were, helps to keep me sane during the down times. My happy periods are more solid, based on real relationships and last longer. Life is actually more fulfilling and rewarding…imagine that. I suppose this is why I will fight tooth and nail NOT to have that robbed from me or anyone else.

      1. MCB

        How did you manage to believe for so long? I’ve never really been able to understand how people do it.

        1. Alicia

          Well, I have tried to dissect it and I think there were numerous reasons. One was the fact that my Dad and Mom were somewhat religious. I say somewhat because although both were raised in Baptist churches, they partied, smoked weed, and had premarital sex. This while dad was teaching Sunday school. When I was six or seven roundabouts, dad came out of the closet and was excommunicated from his family. My sis and I were subsequently tossed between my mom and dad via custody battles, (Dad eventually obtained full custody when mom was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic). Dad still had a party lifestyle and got into hard core drugs that put us in harms way. Wanting to find comfort and meaning, I gravitated to the bible and the stories I heard when dad was going to church. At this point, my father was no longer religious but I found myself hopping from denomination to denomination looking for, I dunno, something. I finally ended up in a charismatic church and after a few years of being bitch slapped around by a charming yet near psychopathic pastor ( who laughed about a certain member of the congregation being suicidal), I left and never looked back. The horror stories there were worse than from my childhood and I–don’t even like to think about it now. To date, I have this seething hatred for religion (not religious people, I just feel sorry for them) and I know–I KNOW, I have to get past it. Right now- however, it is scathing. My hubby often says that I have post traumatic stress disorder. Not sure of that but my fear of impending harm is so intense that I have bolt locks on my own bedroom door. I hate it–and I am angry, yes. Thankfully however, I think I finally realized that life could just be shit sometimes and the meaning we glean from it has nothing to do with anything “outside” of ourselves. Despite some irrational fears I currently maintain, I am by and large, far happier than I was while in a church. Sometimes I wish I could find and counsel people who were like me so they don’t feel so alone like I did in the beginning. I have no idea where to start with something like that.

          1. MCB

            My father is an agnostic Jew and my mother is basically a unitarian. Religion never seems to have been a negative force in either of their lives. For my mother the idea of a loving god seems to give her comfort. I have no idea how she reconciles that god with such an unloving world.

            I went to Hebrew school growing up. When I was young I used to play games of imagination with my friends where we would pretend to investigate UFOs, or the Locke Ness Monster. We would all be aware that the games we were playing weren’t real, but the point of the game would be to insist to each other that it was all true. I would read books about various pseudo-scientific phenomenon like big foot or the lost city of Atlantis, and then I would make up games out of them.

            That is precisely what I though religion was when I was a kid. I figured the adults were all playing pretend, but that they all really knew it could not possibly be true. It never even occurred to me that there was the slightest possibility that the Torah was anything other than a book of old stories. It seemed perfectly clear to me that it was precisely that.

            It eventually dawned on me that some of the people around me actually believed this stuff. Somehow they thought these Hebrew words we were singing had some sort cosmic significance. I couldn’t quite believe it. And to this day I’ve never exactly been able to figure out how anyone could believe any of the mainstream religions.

          2. Alicia

            Well, I think it becomes a coping mechanism. When you see your dad freebasing with a bunch of dudes and you feel unsafe in a tiny apartment, it comforting to think a skydaddy is looking out for you (no one else is). In retrospect, I had many doubts along the way, but doubt is often seen by the religious as shameful, evil, anti god. Slowly but surely, you get roped back in, esp of religion is your “drug”. The day I left the church my pastor told me god would give me a “Reprobate mind” whatever the hell that is. Now that I am a bisexual married chick who creates naughty animations for a living (among other thigns) I suppose she is right. And what’s more–I am unashamed.

          3. MCB

            I can see how it could be comforting to believe in a loving god. But, it seems like if I wanted to believe in a loving god, I probably wouldn’t bother with the rest of it. Does that seem too easy “from the inside” of the religious mindset so to speak?

            It also really bothers me when religions tells curious children who are wondering about something that their curiosity is evil. What a horrible thing to say to a child. I’m sorry your pastor gave you that notion instead of trying to actually help you with a difficult life. :(

          4. Alicia

            Sadder still, as I continued to “seek god’s face” I visited different faiths–Jehovah’s witness, Seventh Day Adventist–Latter Day Saints, Pentecostal, Baptist…and it was the same — DO NOT question. Each told me it was the devil trying to beguile me when I had doubts. Yet, no matter the church, I didn’t see people abstaining from premarital sex, drugs or partying. This often irked me because I was trying to “walk the walk” myself. Yes, it was quite difficult and I slipped up but I was “trying”. oh boy, and do not get me started on what happened between me and a 23 year old “Elder” of the Mormon church whilst he was on his mission. Suffice it to say I got to see some magical underpants. The dude wasn’t ex-communicated because he slept with my black behind (although it did get him a few demerits) he was excommunicated because he took those pants off…hypocrites the whole lot of them. That is why I practically see red when someone starts off with “If only you knew of his goodness..” or “If you would read the bible. ” I go off the way Jeff Dee does when someone mentions hell. Also, if this gives you any insight. I can admit to willful ignorance, as in cherry piking the stuff I wanted to believe. Towards the end, when I couldn’t truly defend it intellectually any more, I told myself that the bible was sectioned into parts. One detailed the musings and superstitions of a nomadic people who were ignorant of certain facts, others held the true words of god, and in the mix was some truth. It wasn’t until I read the bible cover to cover three times that I recognized the fact that the god I believed in was a monster-. I left. I will never be a part of anything I cant question ever again.

        2. Sonorus

          A few reasons:

          1. Everyone I knew believed or at least claimed to. There didn’t seem to be any other option.

          2. We are all capable of these intensely emotional experiences through music, meditation and other group experiences. Mix in guilt and shame and that’s a very powerful concoction. Fundamentalists use a watered down version of cult mind control. I doubt most of them know that’s what they are doing. I think they stumbled onto the process of having people repent their failures while chanting simplistic music. But it’s the same process that cults use.

          3. There is constant reinforcement of the message. If you go to church twice on Sunday and again on Wednesday night you hear the message over and over. Doubts are discouraged and even shamed. Simplistic answers are offered for every question. You learn to stop asking. Certain fundamentals are simply not questioned. Peer pressure is very powerful. And now, more than ever, you can homeschool your children, design your entire social life around church and even only read news, listen to radio and watch tv that is filtered to reinforce all of this.

          I doubt that explains any of this to anyone who was raised in it, but it’s very hard to break out.

          1. Alicia

            Perfect explanation! Also, those suffering from conflicts at home or battling certain mental illnesses or addictions are especially susceptible. It is so much easier to think someone is looking out for you when you are abused and suffering. The only alternative is to face the harsh reality that no one cares. I felt that way for many years and will admit it was wonderful, at the time , thinking I was spiritually protected.

          2. Sonorus

            I left one out. The indoctrination begins in early childhood. Sometimes when confronted with a harsh criticism of their beliefs, you will hear theists (even intelligent and otherwise rational people) resort to childish speech patterns, sometimes even baby talk in their response.

            for others, Alicia is right. It’s their security blanket. It’s the one thing that makes them special. “At least Jesus loves me.” That might sound ridiculous to outsiders, but if that’s all someone has to hang on to in a difficult life, you can understand why they are so reluctant to let it go, no matter what.

  29. 29
    grumpyoldfart

    The fundies will never give up. They’ve been like this for thousands of years and they’ll still be the same in another thousand years.
    `

    Democrats won’t keep on winning elections. One day soon the US President will be named Huckabee, or Santorum, or Bachman – and then what?

    1. 29.1
      Alicia

      oh please don’t–that will give me nightmares…

    2. 29.2
      Wayne

      It seems to me that during every conservative rein, the people are more likely to fight against the tyranny than if a cooperative leader is in charge. I think they call that incentive.

  30. 30
    J

    I believe that what Romney is saying is not that God was pitching a “hissy fit”. If a person doesn’t value their own life and is convinced that there are no eternal consequences for their actions, then what’s to stop them from doing anything that they want? If you kill yourself after your done, then you escape punishment, right?! Below is a link where Romney attempts to offer clarification to his earlier comments. http://www.mikehuckabee.com/2012/12/my-fox-show-monologue.

    1. 30.1
      Alicia

      So, by that token an atheist is more likely to just rob kill right? Yet agnostic nations have less crime than we do. Meanwhile, our nation’s prisons are filled with people who have robbed raped and killed. Morgues are also filled with Christians who committed suicide. Hell isn’t frightening people from doing harm to themselves or others. Think about it–this nation is roughly 80 percent Christian. That being the case, one can say the great majority of crimes are committed by people who believe in some sort of god or after life. As an atheist , my reticence to harm others is not based and fear of eternal punishment. I have a great love and empathy fro human beings. I don’t want to hurt people because I do not wish to . I also do not hurt people because I understand being hurt sux–it’s called empathy and you don’t need no god to be able to have it. In fact, I am more frightened of people who feel they need a boogey man to keep them in line than someone who can be decent to others simply because they are essentially a good person by nature.

      1. J

        Alicia, thank you for the very gracious and cordial reply. My original reason for posting was that I saw you all spending a lot of time defeating what was essentially a straw-man (i.e. God was pitching a hissy fit). I was just trying to offer some clarity to ensure that you all at least fully understood where Romney was coming from. As for the rest of your reply, I hope I have some value to add. I realize and agree that an atheist is perfectly capable of living a crime free life. My point is, though, if a person had the tendency for committing heinous crimes, but really believed that their actions carried eternal consequences, then they would be more likely to not act on those urges and to get help. For example, you mentioned suicide. In actuality, suicide rates are lower among the religious (http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/mobile/article.aspx?articleid=177228). Also, you state (and I’m paraphrasing) that crimes are committed equally between the religious and the non-religious, meaning that roughly 80% of those people incarcerated self-identify with a religious system, do you have any statistics or studies to back this up? Finally, going to a catholic elementary school, doesn’t really tell us anything about what Adam Lanza’s beliefs were as an adult.

        1. Alicia

          No, I didn’t say that 80 percent of the folks incarcerated were religious. I mentioned that this was the religious population of the US. Do you mean to even suggest that of the thousands of folks incarcerated, that ALL or most are atheist? Atheists are an extremely small portion of the population. It DOES NOT compute. Logic and math itself would NOT denote that. I grew up in the hood and I can tell you that most of the guys I knew who got into crime also went to baptist church on Sundays and were supremely superstitious in SPITE of their actions. My point was not that most religious people commit suicide but that if religion or belief in a god were a true deterrent NO religious people would EVER commit suicide. That said, plenty of folks who shot up schools or massacred people have identified with religion in their adult lives. The Branch Davidians were religious, so were the folks of Jones town. While I cannot say whether or not Lanza was religious in his adult life, I can clearly state that exposure to god in school didn’t in any way make him less prone to crime or murder.

          1. J

            Alicia, my mistake then, I beg your pardon. I must have misunderstood your intentions when you said “Think about it–this nation is roughly 80 percent Christian. That being the case, one can say the great majority of crimes are committed by people who believe in some sort of god or after life.” I took that to mean that you were estimating that roughly 80% of those incarcerated were likewise Christian. My mistake. Likewise, I am also not saying that most or all of those incarcerated are atheist either. I’m saying that most of the people who self-identify themselves as part of a religious affiliation have more than likely either not fully thought out the implications of a judgement by an almighty God (i.e “if i really believe this to be true, then what does that mean for how I should try to conduct my life”), or are claiming an affiliation with a religion because that’s what their grandmother is. I am also not proposing that exposure to a belief system will have any effect on a person’s behavior, I am saying that true belief in a God and a final accounting of your actions SHOULD affect your actions. Does that mean that people who truly believe in a God will not mess up? Absolutely not, we are still human and I guarantee you we (I) will/do still mess up.

          2. Sonorus

            I understand people messing up. I do it all the time. Most people who dumb things (even illegal dumb things) do so without thinking things through. They surely didn’t spend hours of their time thinking “I’ll go out and get drunk and then drive home and if I hit another car and kill someone so be it.” They got into trouble by NOT thinking.

            However, we find a lot of people who claim to be religious whose actions reveal that they are very afraid of getting caught by other people even though their belief is supposedly that their god knows everything they do. Since many of their actions are premeditated and repetitive, like Ted Haggard going many times to the same male prostitute (one of countless examples), what conclusion can I draw from that other than they don’t REALLY believe that there is a god who will punish them in hellfire for all eternity for having the gay sex but they are VERY afraid of other people finding out what they are doing and losing their social standing and well-paying job. Prisons are filled with theists. The idea that fear of eternal punishment as a deterrent to crime is laughable. Clearly what theists and nontheists fear is being ostracized and/or incarcerated.

    2. 30.2
      Alicia

      and by the way–there is no indication the shooter was an atheist–in fact he went to Christian schools…

    3. 30.3
      LykeX

      If a person doesn’t value their own life and is convinced that there are no eternal consequences for their actions…

      Such as if they think that serving god is more important than anything else and if they die a martyr, they’ll be forgiven, no matter what they do? That sort of thing?

      1. Alicia

        Super duper high five on that one

      2. J

        No, I don’t believe that your actions can save you, so, no, not like that. Also, I’m not going to try to defend a religion that I believe to be false. That would be silly. :-)

        1. LykeX

          I wasn’t talking about what you believe. I’m talking about the fact that religious beliefs can certainly be used to justify quite horrible actions in the exact manner that some religious people are accusing atheism of.

          Besides, who cares how you’re saved? If it’s possible to commit an evil act and still be saved, by whatever means, then you’ve got a system that allows you to do evil with no eternal consequences; the exact thing you were talking about. Whether salvation comes by faith or works is irrelevant. As long as it comes without direct restitution to the person wronged, it’s still problematic.

          Finally, this attitude is not limited to any particular religion. It’s quite universal.

          1. J

            Absolutely! Religion and atheism both can and have been used to justify horrible actions of mass murders. Does Christianity recommend killing non-believers or loving your enemies? What does atheism recommend? Many atheists seem very proud that they are able to live their lives by their own rules, but seem to want to project their rules (generally the golden rule) onto others. You can’t judge a worldview by those who abuse it. So what is the “dogma” of atheism? Where is it defined? Humanism tries to add objective morality, but fails on grounding that morality. (A topic I would love to talk with you all about one-on-one).

            Also, after this round I’m out. I have spent way too much of my vacation on this blog. I’m going to go hug my kids. An atheist friend of mine told me about the podcast, so I will be listening and chiming in in the future. Talk to you all later. Happy holidays.

  31. 31
    mike jones

    Since according to Christians god is all powerful and all knowing then god let it happen.

    This means Christians happily worship a god who kills children daily in various ways, shooting , starvation natural disasters.

    I hear you say it’s the devils fault, but since god is “all powerful” he clearly chooses not to destroy the devil and thus is responsible once again, for all the evil in the world.

    SO why do Christians think they have the Moral high ground.?
    Why do Christians think they worship a good god when this god is clearly evil and cruel? We do not hesitate to classify a human who randomly kills children as evil, a human can at least use the excuse of not being “perfect”

    Lucky this God does not exist.

    1. 31.1
      J

      it could be God had a reason for letting it happen and since he doesn’t really need our approval, then he didn’t tell us what that reason was. Say God did tell someone his reason, and they tried to tell you the reason, would you believe them? As a thought experiment, if you were friends with Adam and he died in a car crash before he could commit this horrific crime. I’d say that you would still be saying that God is a moral monsters or ending his young life not knowing what God had prevented, wouldn’t you?

      1. LykeX

        if you were friends with Adam and he died in a car crash before he could commit this horrific crime. I’d say that you would still be saying that God is a moral monsters or ending his young life not knowing what God had prevented, wouldn’t you?

        Of course. Any god that has the ability to cause car crashes at will also has the ability to prevent crime through other means. This is the Euthyphro dilemma all over again. If god is supposed to be so wise and powerful, how come he always seems to act like a spoiled three year old who just discovered how to use a hammer?

        How about something as simple as this; when the guy pulled the trigger, God would cause the gun to jam. No restriction of his free will, no great supernatural fireworks, no car crashes, no deaths. Easy. If I can think of that, why couldn’t god?

        1. J

          My point was that God may have had a bigger good that he is bringing about through this tragedy. And since he is all knowing and doesn’t mess with free will, then he knew that allowing this crime was the only thing that would bring about the a bigger good.

          1. LykeX

            A few points:

            1) Giving a wannabe murderer a heart attack doesn’t interfere with his free will. If that counts as an interference, then the police showing up and shooting him would also count, so god shouldn’t allow that either. Stopping a given action is not the same as interfering with free will.

            2) Free will does not require sin. God has free will, doesn’t he? So, it’s possible for a being to be perfectly good, while having free will. The fact that god has allowed the existence of beings that are not perfectly good is a point against him. He’s partially responsible for every bad thing that any person ever does because he created them, knew what they were going to do and didn’t move a finger to stop them.

            3) If you want to claim that god is unable to bring about a desired good outcome without allowing a horrible tragedy, then that’s a clam you need to back up. You need to show what that good outcome is and how the tragedy was the only possible way to achieve it. To say that an omnipotent, omniscient deity would be unable to think of any way to achieve his ends that didn’t include letting small children die is preposterous. You need to show how or I’ll simply reject it as absurd.
            I will not, under any circumstances, accept the “mysterious ways” argument. If you think god had a greater good in mind, I expect you to be able to tell me what it is. If you can’t do that, then don’t bring it up. If the best argument you’ve got is the equivalent of “it’s magic”, then don’t expect to be taken seriously.

            Really, I think a lot of this comes down to a much more basic question: does god have to follow the same moral rules as we do? For example, you seem to be giving god a free pass because he’s trying to achieve a greater good. Would you also allow that defense for a cop that decided not to stop a murderer?
            What if the officer decides to do nothing to stop the criminal and then claims that he was trying to teach the world a lesson about compassion and the horrors of violence? Would you accept that and agree that he had done nothing wrong?

      2. Sonorus

        What possible reason could any god have for allowing children to be gang-raped in war zones. It happened many times in Darfur and in other places as well. What reason could there possibly be that wouldn’t make that being a monster?

      3. mike

        @J No, I for one would not go around saying god is a moral monster because (thankfully) no such god exists. I would look like a fool talking about imaginary things like they were real.

        With regards to your first sentence, if you actually believe such a horrific thing then it sickens me to see how religion has poisoned your mind to the extent that you can actually think there may be a good reason for 5yr olds to be slaughtered but that we just dont know what that reason is yet. That is digusting, your religion is disgusting.

  32. 32
    mike jones

    Your “thought experiment situation” only demonstrates that god is evil.
    Because god is “all powerful” AND “all knowing” as defined by Christians. He could easily prevent any situation that required someone to suffer to fix it as in your example. The fact he chooses to kill children and cause suffering is evidence once again God is evil.

    1. 32.1
      mike

      I agree, J’s god is evil, or highly incompetent.

      The “thought experiment” that J gave us has many other simple solutions. Instead of Adam dying in a car crash so he couldn’t carry out any horrific shootings, how about no car crash and Adam gets to the point where he’s holding a gun in front of defenseless kids. Now instead of any shootings, how about when he goes to fire, the gun mechanism is jammed(to borrow from LykeX) and now the Cops show up and arrest him. Adam gets sent for mental care and in a few years time, turns his life around and now raises money for children’s charities.

      So, to recap, god’s way was to kill Adam in car crash, he’s dead, his family is distraught, his children without a father, etc, etc

      My way (which took all of 2 minutes to think up) no one dies, Adam is a productive member of society, now why couldn’t a god come up with that?

      Unbelievable, people worshipping an incompetent and/or evil fictional god

  33. 33
    Thomas King

    The first known mass shooting in the US was at St. Mary’s Parochial School in 1891. There were shootings at Atlantic Shores Christian School, Episcopal High School, Bishop Neumann High School, Oikos University–which are all *religious* schools. Ten schoolgirls were shot at a Pennsylvania Amish school.

    Eight students were shot at Heath High School as they participated in a *prayer* circle.

    Word is, God and prayer were allowed in this religious schools, but He didn’t prevent those shootings, either.

  34. 34
    Eggs

    Hello, I was just wondering what the problem is? From what I can understand, the separtion of church and state prevents prayer in school, as school’s are generally public schools. Which means that someone would have to go through the whole process of getting a amendment ratified (I’m assuming that the way to negate amendments is the same as the way to ratifiy them because I couldn’t find the process for negating a amendment in article 5 of the constitution) which requires (I’m quoting wikipedia) :
    “Before an amendment can take effect, it must be proposed to the states by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a convention called by two-thirds of the states, and ratified by three-fourths of the states or by three-fourths of conventions thereof, the method of ratification being determined by Congress at the time of proposal. To date, no convention for proposing amendments has been called by the states, and only once—in 1933 for the ratification of the twenty-first amendment—has the convention method of ratification been employed.”

    1. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_amendments_to_the_United_States_Constitution
    2. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Five_of_the_United_States_Constitution

    1. 34.1
      Lord Narf

      The only way to negate any part of the Constitution is with a later, contradictory amendment, as with the 18th and 21st amendments.

      It’s not just a matter of legality. Part of the point of the New Atheism movement is changing public perceptions. We already know that it’s currently illegal, but we have to shame idiots who keep saying this sort of thing. The Republican party is currently under the control of a Dominionist movement. We need to shift public perceptions enough to perhaps get the conservatives to take back their party from the nut-jobs.

      Plus, the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution. If we had a pair of Dominionist presidents, back-to-back, for 2 terms each, they could potentially appoint enough crazy, Dominionist justices to the Supreme Court to completely break the First Amendment. People perceive a ridiculous amount of power in the presidency, when he can’t do much if Congress is completely opposing him … but they completely miss the fact that a lot of the power of the presidency is in appointing SCotUS justices.

  1. 35
    Free speech and free attention » The Atheist Experience

    [...] familiar? It’s the same kind of line that arrogant, privileged douche-nozzle Mike Huckabee was pushing on us a few weeks ago, when he said that school shootings are inevitable when [...]

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