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.