Monthly Archives: January 2013
When New York Times bestseller, Susan Jacoby, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times called The Blessings of Atheism, I was surprised to see it reprinted in the Dallas Morning News, which is where I first saw and read it. When it started getting around the internet and media worlds, I think we were all expecting major backlash from the religious right. Lo and behold, it happened. My favourite so far has been from WND’s Dennis Prager, who wrote The Atheist Response to Sandy Hook.
Amid the copious amounts of strawmen and atheist-bashing in his piece, Prager claims, “…[the] atheist message offers no consolation at all when compared to the religious message that we humans are not just matter but possess eternal souls.” Prager reiterates this a paragraph later with, “[Atheists] would have to acknowledge that, in terms of consolation, there is no comparison between ‘The dead do not suffer’ and ‘Your child lives on, and you will be reunited with her.’”
He then goes on to build his biggest strawman of all, which is what he thinks the atheist response to the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary should be, “As atheists, we truly feel awful for you. And we promise to work for more gun control. But the truth is we don’t have a single consoling thing to say to you because we atheists recognize that the human being is nothing more than matter, no different from all other matter in the universe except for having self-consciousness. Therefore, when we die, that’s it. Moreover, within a tiny speck of time in terms of the universe’s history, nearly every one of us, including your child, will be completely forgotten, as if we never even existed. Life is a random crapshoot. Our birth and existence are flukes. And you will never see your child again.”
The atheist is made out to be a nihilist, which is not the same thing, not at all. The atheist is made out to be this cold, emotionless person that has no tact.
If the atheist must be this heartlessly rational being that can offer no secular solace to those affected by tragedy, then the Christian must have this response, “As Christians, we truly feel awful for you. And we promise to do nothing about gun control (because guns don’t kill people, people do). But the truth is God watched this man walk into an elementary school with an assault rifle. God watched this man burst into that first grade class. God watched this man open fire and kill twenty children in a matter of seconds. God watched this man, and God did nothing. And you will see your child again, whether in Heaven or Hell, and you will be in the presence of God, who let your child die a senseless death, and you will be forced to worship Him for all eternity.”
If the atheist position can offer no solace to the parents who lost their children at Sandy Hook, or to anyone who experiences a tragedy for that matter, then it is still far more comforting than the revolting thought that an all-powerful and, more importantly, all-loving being did nothing to stop it.