Oh look, a meme

There’s a conservative meme (re)circulating on Facebook right now. The punch line is “Taking guns from innocent people will not protect innocent people. The problem is not guns. It is a Godless society.” [Emph. theirs].

What’s fun about this meme is the people they use to try and prove their point.

Here’s the full meme:

If a madman wants to
kill innocent people
he will find a way.

Killers don’t need
guns to kill people.

Timothy McVeigh
used fertilizer.

9-11 terrorists used
box cutters & planes.

The Nazis used
cyanide gas…

Taking guns from
innocent people will not
protect innocent people.

The problem is not guns.
It is a Godless society.”

So let’s see, Timothy McVeigh, an ardent gun enthusiast who quit the NRA because he considered it too soft on gun control. That’s one genuinely godless arch-conservative, gun-fondling, right-wing terrorist. Next, the 9-11 terrorists, all theists, who committed their carnage because they believed God wanted them to do so, and that He would reward them for their “sacrifice” by bestowing on them all the blessings of heaven for all eternity.

Next, we’ve got the Nazis, some of whose belt buckles were engraved with the traditional German military slogan, “Gott mit uns” — God with us. And while some of them may have worshiped older, pagan, Teutonic gods, that’s still not atheism. So even in this short list, theists are way more numerous than genuinely godless killers. And we could easily add more Christian terrorists, like Eric Rudolph, who also preferred bombs to bullets as a means of killing lots of innocent people.

It’s kinda hard to argue that the problem is a Godless society, when the vast majority of perpetrators are not genuinely godless. But what I find especially interesting about this meme is that it is fundamentally and unintentionally an argument in favor of atheism. Just as hairlessness is the absence of hair and fearlessness is the absence of fear, Godlessness is the absence of God. By acknowledging that we live in a Godless society, this meme acknowledges that there is no god here who could make any difference.

That’s important, because modern society didn’t just suddenly poof into existence in its present form. If society today is Godless, it’s because it was Godless before. There was not any god here who could make any difference in how our society developed. If, at any point, you have a Godless society, it’s because God was also absent in the society that preceded it. And that’s a lineage that goes way back.

This meme comes perilously close to admitting that God is responsible, by His absence, for all the problems we face in society today. Had He not been absent earlier, His omniscient, benevolent intervention could have prevented us from becoming a Godless society, and experiencing the problems that allegedly result from Godlessness.

What this meme tells us is that conservative Christians may “believe” in God, but their real trust is in their guns. Much as they love to boast about how powerful and wise and loving God is, they have no confidence in His ability to protect them. So they need guns.

Or, sometimes, bombs, box-cutters, and cyanide.


  1. lorn says

    There is also this little bit of the story, God, the Christian God, assuming you believe in the existence of such a being, did, according to the Christian holy book, commit the single greatest mass murder of all time by drowning all of mankind, save a very few.

    As a matter of logic, is it even possible for God to be Godless?

  2. thebookofdave says

    they have no confidence in His ability to protect them. So they need guns.

    Hard to blame them for hiding behind guns for their protection. God won’t smite a target, or even ignite a badly designed underwear bomb, so he certainly can’t be trusted to deflect a bullet.

  3. StevoR says

    Wow! Talk about an own goal here!

    Not only are their examples all religious – two thirds of them are actually Christian. (Mostly anyhow and for a certain value of Christian.) How, how did even they not see that before composing and sharing this meme?

  4. blf says

    Assuming, for the moment, that is “the” problem — that there are magic sky faeries, too many people are laughing at them, and, well, therefore, somthing… — then how is owning a lethal weapon you probably don’t know how to use and even if you do would almost certainly be too panicked to use “correctly” should you ever be in a genuine situation where its use might actually be useful, useful?

    Where do magic sky faeries even fit it? I guess they pass the ammo belt.

  5. says

    The Nazis used
    cyanide gas…

    Um, they used a lot more guns. And also bombs. (Well, whole classes of projectile and explosive, and also incendiary devices – which tend to have a bit of cross-pollination).

    It’s that sort of weird beyond-oversimplification to make a “point” that is representative of the entire style of thought.

  6. rubaxter says

    It’s sooo cute when Conservatives and other children think they’ve been witty. Like weasels on nitrous.

    Of course, a lot of innocent people are saved by not having guns in the household, as the statistics on gun deaths in innocent people households demonstrate. However, that’s a second order effect, and Conservatives have trouble predicting because that involves The Future, and that scares them like the metric system.

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