Warren: Evolution to Blame for Aurora Shootings

One of the truly ridiculous things about American culture is that every time a tragedy happens, lots of people instantly come up with explanations for why it happened — explanations that, through sheer coincidence I’m sure, always coincide with what they already were against before it happened. Rick Warren says that they happened because we teach evolution in schools:

Brilliant. We haven’t heard that one a million times before, have we? Because prisons are filled with evolutionary biologists who go on shooting sprees.

28 comments on this post.
  1. davidct:

    At least we can reasonably assume that animals are unlikely to start acting like godly humans. Warren seems to have missed more than evolution while he was reading the golden book addition of his bible.

  2. Daniel Fincke:

    Warren claims that the tweet was a coincidence, unrelated to the Aurora shootings:

    TWITTER’S limit on words allows no context for statements. A lack of contxt causes misinterpretation. So when you tweet what’s on your mind, people preassume (incorrectly) that you are talking about what’s on THEIR mind. This is a clear example. My tweet was a brief response to a question to me about SEXUAL PROMISCUITY. It had NOTHING to do with the tragedy in Colorado.! I had received this email from a dad: “Pastor Rick, my daughter told me her teacher said in class “There’s nothing wrong with sex with multiple partners! Sex is a natural, inate drive, and any attempt to limit it to one, single partner is a manmade construct.” THAT is what I was commenting on. Unfortunately, you also incorrectly presumed the context.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/07/rick-warren-responds.html

  3. Randomfactor:

    Ah, just a coincidence then. So Warren should be willing to make a statement, on the record, that evolutionary teaching was NOT to blame for the Aurora shootings.

    Is that the sound of evolved crickets I hear?

  4. arakasi:

    I, for one, have never heard of a moose going on a shooting spree. Perhaps someone can fill me in if I happened to miss that headline.

  5. Kaoru Negisa:

    Sure, I totes believe that Rick Warren was responding to a private email via Twitter. Because hitting the reply button and giving a thoughtful response to the question is drastically inferior to 140 out of context characters not addressed to any specific person.

    Regardless, that’s still terrible advice and apropos of nothing whatsoever.

  6. eric:

    Even in the proper context, its nothing more than doublespeak. (Given its fallacious AND hypocritical, maybe we should call it ‘doubletripe’ instead.)

    “If you godless heathens tell our youngfolk they are animals, they will behave like animals! That is why we good christians tell them they are born sinful, lustful creatures of God instead.”

  7. Marcus Ranum:

    Well, technically, evolution is one of the causes of school shootings.

    It’s also the cause of opportunistic slime like Rick Warren.

  8. Ing: Praise The Lord And Pass the Ammunition:

    @Marcus Ranum

    In the same way gravity is, right?

  9. John Horstman:

    Re: #2 – Oh, RicK, that’s why you shouldn’t use Twitter for any statement that requires nuance, context, or discusses a complex topic. It’s not the appropriate forum for such musings. Granted, this isn’t you’re problem alone: the overwhelming majority of info carried by Twitter is wholly inappropriate for the transmission medium.

  10. lofgren:

    Sure, I totes believe that Rick Warren was responding to a private email via Twitter. Because hitting the reply button and giving a thoughtful response to the question is drastically inferior to 140 out of context characters not addressed to any specific person.

    I believe it’s possible. His assessment of twitter is 100% correct. People read something online and then pop off a contextless sentence in response without any hint of what they are referring to with great regularity. On Facebook it is kind of a sport. Somebody posts “Arggh!” or “The Republican party is so ridiculous,” and they get twenty comments guessing at what they are talking about. It’s not uncommon to see an off-the-cuff tweet and then three following tweets explaining it when the twit realizes that nobody else is going to have any clue what he is trying to say.

    Anyway the pastor’s statement is tautological. Regardless of whether or not kids are taught that they are animals, they will always act like they are animals, because as they are animals anyway they act is by definition like an animal since it is like themselves.

  11. Synfandel:

    @arakasi (#4)

    No, moose don’t go on shooting sprees, but they do total pick-up trucks that are innocently ramming into them on the highway.

  12. Kaoru Negisa:

    I believe it’s possible. His assessment of twitter is 100% correct.

    I agree with you that his assessment of Twitter is correct, but I find it highly dubious that Warren received an email about a complex subject and felt that rather than hit the “reply” button and answer that email with an unlimited number of characters at his command, he instead went to Twitter and posted a random comment not aimed at the original sender, making it highly unlikely that said sender would see it, and less likely that they would get anything useful out of it.

    Considering Warren’s propensity for lying in other contexts and the stunning lack of logic to his actions, I believe it’s more likely than not that he’s not only lying, but lying poorly in this statement as well.

    Good point on the definition of animals.

  13. tfkreference:

    The “behave like animals” argument keeps coming up. Out of curiosity, what animals kill their own species like we do? (I can’t think of any, but I’m a geologist, so the animals I’ve studied were already fossilized.)

  14. Thomas Lawson:

    Oh, I don’t know about this. That tweet wasn’t very specific. He could easily have been talking about the Bible…

    Ecclesiastes 3:19– Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.

    A couple days later he quoted Thomas Paine. I think Rick might be join the Clergy Project soon.

  15. lofgren:

    The “behave like animals” argument keeps coming up. Out of curiosity, what animals kill their own species like we do?

    Well, chimps, but best not to mention it because any similarities between humans and chimps make evolution deniers uncomfortable.

    There are also more monogamous species than humans (and more polyamorous, obviously, even if you limit the criteria to species with proximate mating apparatus in order to exclude jellyfish and coral and other such creatures).

  16. Bronze Dog:

    P1. All humans are animals.
    C1. Therefore, all human behaviors is a subset of animal behaviors.

    P2. Humans and non-human animals sometimes exhibit destructive behaviors.
    P3. Humans and non-human animals sometimes exhibit benevolent behaviors.
    C2. Therefore, “acting like animals” can be used to describe destructive behavior and/or benevolent behavior.

    Logic! Kind of undermines the utility of the phrase, doesn’t it?

  17. lofgren:

    but I find it highly dubious that Warren received an email about a complex subject and felt that rather than hit the “reply” button and answer that email with an unlimited number of characters at his command,

    Well I don’t. I see it happen on Facebook about once a day.

    I mean, on what basis does this sound implausible to you? Because it’s not rational? Because it’s not smart? Because it’s ineffectual? Because it distills a complex subject into simple aphorism that can be wielded like a cudgel?

    You do realize who we are talking about here, right?

  18. Kaoru Negisa:

    I mean, on what basis does this sound implausible to you?

    I can see what you mean about the rest of it, but this is neither dishonest nor specifically stupid (the statement is, but not the switch in medium), the two biggest hallmarks of a Rick Warren statement, it’s just a lot of extra work, and I would never suggest that Rick Warren is accustomed to making extra effort.

    Put it this way, if your friend calls you and tells you to call them back, do you go on an internet forum they may or may not use and post a vague statement in the general chat? If this was intended to be a response to a specific person, he could have done the easy thing and replied via the medium it was sent or, if he was responding to a specific person on Twitter, start it with @thatperson so that that person will know they were replied to.

    I understand you’re making a point about people making broad, unsupported statements in an effort to rally their tribe, but I find it unlikely that Warren was responding to an email by making a vague, undirected pronouncement on Twitter. Given his penchant for dishonesty, it’s much more likely that he thought he would use the Aurora killings as an attempt to stick it to the evolutionists and when people reacted with horror, he spent two days looking through his Twitter trying to find something vaguely related and when he found nothing went to his email and ended up with this pathetic excuse.

  19. lofgren:

    if your friend calls you and tells you to call them back, do you go on an internet forum they may or may not use and post a vague statement in the general chat?

    That’s a radically different situation.

    but I find it unlikely that Warren was responding to an email by making a vague, undirected pronouncement on Twitter.

    I still don’t understand why you find this unlikely.

    Look, one of my friend’s statuses says this currently:

    The punishment is just and reasonable.

    This statement is even more useless than Warren’s without its context, since Warren’s comment can at least be seen upon as either tautological or as sage wisdom if you roll that way.

    Clearly my friend read or saw something or was otherwise inspired to write this comment. He knows what it is but I don’t. Maybe he will realize that other people don’t know what he is talking about and post a reply to his own comment to explain it. Maybe the only people who matter already know what he is talking about. Maybe he doesn’t care if we know what he is talking about or not, but he felt the need to say this publicly for his own reasons.

    Let me turn this around: What, exactly, is your evidence that Rick Warren was referring to the shootings when he wrote this? Is it just a gut feeling? Because that’s all you seem to be going on, and your gut feeling does not automatically make something likely or plausible.

    I don’t know how to get a list of Rick Warren’s tweets that preceded this in order to get its full context, but it appears to have been posted at 1:09 on July 20th. I guarantee that I was talking about something else at 1:09 on July 20th. I can also guarantee that I have made unintentionally cryptic statements on the internet. It is entirely possible that I would accidentally post a cryptic message referring to an unrelated matter at some point over the 24-hour period following a breaking national news story, and that some other person, observing my comment, would then rationalize some relationship between my comment and the national event because it was currently figuring so prominently in their own mind that they assume it must also be figuring prominently in my own.

    Since it could so easily happen to me – since I’ve seen it happen to other people – there’s no good reason for me to disbelieve that it could happen to Rick Warren.

    Since I don’t follow Rick Warren’s twitter account, for all I know it is just a part of his daily routine to read his emails and toss off-the-cuff comments about them onto twitter as he works. This would not be unique behavior.

  20. Kaoru Negisa:

    That’s a radically different situation.

    No, they are exactly the same situation with different mediums put into place. One is a direct, private communication. The other is an indirect public communication. One allows for a lot more nuance than the other. The only significant difference is that Twitter is far more limited than an internet forum. A similar analogy would be receiving a letter and responding by shouting out your front door.

    Clearly my friend read or saw something or was otherwise inspired to write this comment. He knows what it is but I don’t. Maybe he will realize that other people don’t know what he is talking about and post a reply to his own comment to explain it. Maybe the only people who matter already know what he is talking about. Maybe he doesn’t care if we know what he is talking about or not, but he felt the need to say this publicly for his own reasons.

    Yes, but is your friend claiming that he’s specifically responding to another person and, more importantly, that that other person will somehow know it’s the answer to the question they asked? You’re still presuming that Warren was just firing off a vague tweet, but that’s not what he’s claiming. He’s claiming that he’s answering a specific person’s specific email, and doing so by saying something vague on Twitter.

    Moreover he has a history of lying about things, especially when he gets in trouble, and a history of making inflammatory statements. Take a look at his category on Right Wing Watch for just a sampling of the multiple offensive things he has said in a number of mediums. It is not out of character for Rick Warren to say something stupid and inflammatory publicly then try to walk it back by saying that he was talking about something else.

    Yes, it could have happened to you that something you said could have been taken out of context. However, assuming for a second that you don’t have a history of saying remarkably vile things and then coming up with strange lies to cover them up, then that’s different. But Warren does have a documented history of being unspeakably stupid and cruel in public and then trying to find a way to cover it up. This is not out of character for him and it is far more likely that that’s what he’s doing rather than this being some sort of tragic mix up. It could be a tragic mix up, no doubt, but his past behavior is evidence to suggest that it is not.

  21. lofgren:

    No, they are exactly the same situation with different mediums put into place.

    Well sure, except that I am not a world famous pastor who sees hundreds of emails sharing topical stories with me everyday and maintains a twitter feed documenting my idiotic ejaculations which is read by thousands, and my personal friend is requesting private communication on an unknown topic rather than simply sharing a story about public education and sex education, topics my followers care passionately about, with no indication that he expects a response. And instead of merely tossing an offhand comment onto the internet as a reaction to this request for a phone call – a comment which, by the way, does not require any specific context to be a perfectly complete statement – I am actually attempting to contact my friend through roundabout means. And, oh yeah, my personal friend is a personal friend rather than some guy who felt the urge to write me because I am a famous person who shares his values.

    I mean, other than being completely and totally different, it sure is exactly the same.

    Yes, but is your friend claiming that he’s specifically responding to another person and,

    I have no idea what my friend is responding too. Likely it has something to do with another person, unless he feels that he has justly punished himself, which I suppose is possible.

    that that other person will somehow know it’s the answer to the question they asked?

    No but neither is Rick Warren, unless you have a piece of evidence that none of the rest of us are privy to. If you can cite where Rick Warren said that his comment was specifically intended and targeted to the anonymous emailer, that would be helpful. Otherwise I have no choice but to suspect you are making up bullshit in order to allow yourself to feel superior to Rick Warren, because that is sure how it looks.

    He’s claiming that he’s answering a specific person’s specific email, and doing so by saying something vague on Twitter.

    He’s claiming that reading a story about something shocking prompted him to tweet a comment without context. That’s all I have seen of his claims. This is such a mundane occurrence that you have a significant burden on you if you want to prove that not only is Warren lying about what prompted him to tweet, but that the actual prompt was the massacre in Aurora. You have provided precisely no evidence of either.

    I clicked your link but it appears to be every single post on RWW that mentions Rick Warren or his church, no matter how tangentially. I’m not going to wade through that to try to puzzle out which incidents you are referring to, especially since that’s nothing more than an attempt to poison the well. Unless somewhere buried in there is a quote from Rick Warren saying, “If I ever repeat one of my empty, ignorant platitudes about the dangers of evolution in order to vilify its supporters, you should always assume I am referring to the most recent senseless slaughter in the news.”

  22. Michael Heath:

    Given that Rick Warren is a serial liar, how are we to determine when he’s being misrepresented in the media when all we have to go on his word?

  23. andrewlephong:

    Rick Warren seems unaware that his argument is still idiotic even if it was about sexual promiscuity and not a shooting spree.

    Animal behavior varies widely, and that includes sexual behavior. There are animals like prairie voles that are far more monogamous than we are (prairie voles have never been observed to “cheat” on their partners in the wild, and can only be induced into promiscuous behavior by screwing around with their hormones). Yet you don’t see Warren argue “well, if we teach kids that humans and prairie voles have common ancestry, they might go all monogamous, oh noes!”

  24. lofgren:

    Of course there is one easy way for Rick Warren to dispel any suspicion. He could say, unequivocally, “I, Rick Warren, do not believe that teaching evolution induces students to violence (just to sexual promiscuity).”

    But I wouldn’t put money on that happening.

  25. caseloweraz:

    “My tweet was a brief response to a question to me about SEXUAL PROMISCUITY. It had NOTHING to do with the tragedy in Colorado.! I had received this email from a dad…”

    Color me old-fashioned, but why does Warren use Twitter instead of e-mail for matters like this?

  26. caseloweraz:

    “When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it.”

    Yes, they stop speaking, tear off their clothes, run to the corner of the classroom and try to burrow into the floor. The cries they emit when they can’t are truly distressing to hear.

    It’s a tragic situation. But we can put an end to it. All we have to do is find out who’s teaching students they are no different from animals and get those teachers fired.

    /sarc

  27. Daniel Schealler:

    When students are taught that they are no different from vertebrates, they act like it.

    :P

  28. kermit.:

    When I was a tyke, and still Southern Baptist, I was taught that we were born sinful and degenerate, and that we could not control ourselves – it was, in fact, sinful(1) to think that we could.

    But if we were Born Again® we would be forgiven of all those acts. Whether perverse and lustful acts (which I am all in favor of now) or mass murder in a theater (still against) we would be absolved of guilt. Christians actually have an escape for the consequences of any bad behavior. Their doctrine gives them an excuse, and a get out of hell free card after the fact(2). Quite a few Christians are aware of this, also.

    And evolutionary science teaches us that we are animals, yes, but it doesn’t teach us that all animal behavior is interchangeable. (“I now feel free to dance, demonstrating to the hive where the flowers are!”) What an ignorant and disagreeable idiot.

    (1) Arrogance.
    (2) They do have to be genuinely sorry afterwards. You know – like most wife beaters and child rapists.

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