Posted: Sat, December 22, 2012 | By: Special Guest
by Sam Keene
After the Connecticut shooting , where at Sandy Hook Elementary Adam Lanza gunned down 26 people (27 including his own mother), the echoes of Christopher Hitchens remain relevant:
“When the earthquake hits, or the tsunami inundates, or the twin towers ignite, you can see and hear the secret satisfaction of the faithful. Gleefully they strike up: “You see, this is what happens when you don’t listen to us!” ~ God Is Not Great.
While we can hardly downplay the tragedy of the shooting, I argue that this is a good opportunity to raise awareness of how it highlights the negative side of religion. Both Christianity and religion in general. For example, Bryan Fischer, the conservative radio host and blogger, has taken the opportunity to stress that the omnipresent immanent God did not prevent the shooting because he is a gentleman who doesn’t go where he isn’t wanted. God won’t protect the schools because he is unwelcome – therefore this is enough cause for God to allow yet another massacre to take place. The lack of Christian worship apparently prevents an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God’s protection.
If the Christian god exists – then he is a jealous, child-like, vindictive being. Any god which allows people to suffer because he isn’t getting enough attention is not a god worth following. It is a god worth destroying. This is what some religious people think – that a lack of faith is responsible for the shooting, and if only we had more faith, more religion – it would not of happened. How can people honesty say such things with a straight face – while more and more children are raped in the church – God’s own house. You only need to apply the smallest amount of logic to make Fischer’s argument fall apart.
People like Fischer don’t really care if they are wrong or not, not really. All they want to do is hijack whatever bandwagon they can to further whatever bigoted, self-refuting cause they have. I’m all for commenting on a event like this, but when your opinion falls apart so easily, it is worthless.
After this shooting, the amount of mental gymnastics one would have to perform to try and remain faithful is incredible yet millions of people continue to do it – especially in light of events such as school shootings. These shootings highlight not only the dogmatic, intellectually inconsistent nature of the extremely religious, but also the moderately religious (such as your friendly Christian neighbor, or girlfriend/boyfriend).
I argue you cannot continue to hold belief in a personal, omnibenevolent, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent being and remain consistently rational – or at the very least, a decent human being. You must actively delude yourself from the truth via some impressive displays of mental gymnastics. Religion teaches people to actively take part in reinforcing their own delusion and this is shown in abundance when a disaster strikes.
There are those who think this argument, which is partly the problem of evil, can be explained by free will. Even ignoring that scientific evidence suggests free will is an illusion, why must 20 children die? Why couldn’t God make Adam Lanza’s gun disappear from his hands? Why in any disaster is God never able to empirically show compassion. Surely the only option left is to conclude that a supreme being does not exist.
I have to ask, why is it acceptable for people to say (in the context of faith): “Thank God no-one else got hurt”, “Thank the Lord that my child wasn’t among the dead.” while completely dancing around the fact the omnipotent, omnibenevolent God let this happen. This is found in every disaster the religious comment on. Dozens of people die in a fire and two were saved by the heroic effort of the firefighters? “Thank God for saving those two people”. Your family member went into remission? “Thank God for not letting her die yet!”. “Praise the Lord!”.
The shooting also wonderfully highlights another negative aspect of the religious response to disaster The most selfish thing a religious person can do in these situations is to pray. Prayer is the greatest sign of selfishness in the faithful. It does nothing more than provide people with a feeling that they have achieved good, or helped in some way. In reality it poisons our moral compass and damages human decency. It corrupts our empathy and it distorts intellect and it should never be treated as something worthy of merit. If the religious donated a small sum of money every time they would otherwise pray – that would do infinity greater good than getting down on two knees and talking to yourself.
These people no-doubt think they are not being selfish. Perhaps it is the wrong word to use. Yet when we can objectively, empirically say and show that prayer does nothing – surely then to continue to pray is selfish?
I wonder what is going to happen if it comes out that the shooter was a Christian. I wonder what logical fallacies we would see. I wonder how those who think their morals are god-given will react. Will they accept that religion does not give us morals? Probably not.
The responses to various disasters are strange. When a disaster strikes Japan it is God’s revenge for Pearl Harbor. When one strikes America it is the fault of secularization, gays and atheists. When Christians die from disaster it is because they were not religious enough – they didn’t give God enough attention, love, or faith. One hardly needs to expound on what’s wrong with this reasoning.
There is a cop-out spoken by the religious which is “God has a plan”. Like praying, It serves no useful purpose. All it does is claim that the genocidal, violent God which allowed your child to die in fear and pain somehow deserves recognition of his supreme attributes. No, he deserves the finger and a sincere ’Fuck you’.
To wrap this post up, we mustn’t focus too much on religion, in times like these, where fathers and mothers have had their life’s ripped apart by the death of their children, we must commend the massive amount of humanity shown. The shared upset, empathy among millions in light of this disaster. Where it is easy to find evil here, it is just as easy to find good.
Perhaps we can also share a bit of empathy for the thousands of children who died today from starvation.
This essay was originally posted at Sam’s personal Blog, “Ratinal Musings” - HERE