Let the apologetics begin

December 15, 2012 • 9:19 am

You know the story: a gunman armed with semiautomatic weapons invaded an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children, 5 adults, and then himself.  The children were only 5 to 10 years old.  There is nothing more horrible than the pain of lives unfulfilled, the massacre of young innocents who never got a chance to let their lives unfold. For years the parents will be thinking “what if?” and trying to make sense of the senseless.

I don’t feel like fulminating right now against gun laws (see P.Z.’s short take on this: “I have no idea what could motivate a man to gun down 3rd graders, but I do know it’s past time to put rational gun control laws in place. Give it an hour, some idiot will propose arming all the 7 year olds instead.”), or gloating about how this supports the absence of God.  So let’s just see how the faithful deal with this horror.  It’s obviously because Americans have kicked God out of our schools!

Bryan Fischer, spokesman for the execrable American Family Association.  “God doesn’t want to go where he’s not wanted. He’s a gentleman.”

Some gentleman!

Mike Huckabee, failed politician and Baptist minister, makes the same excuse:

Huckabee notes that God will be there with hugs and consolation after the tragedy, but let it happen because of our godlessness. It’s obviously the same God who ordered Abraham to kill Isaac.

Zazzle is capitalizing on school shootings and religiosity with this tee-shirt:

Picture 4

What has our country come to? First the loonies who kill, then the loonies who explain.

193 thoughts on “Let the apologetics begin

    1. Huckabee and Fischer’s stupidity is beyond belief. I can see why Fox News has him
      as a commentator. Can’t imagine what these
      little children could have done to have this
      happen to them. I am sure Huckabee will have
      a profound message from GOD explaining the reason for it.

  1. As someone else pointed out in the comments of another site, just because organized prayer is banned in public schools, doesn’t mean that some of the theist students/teachers weren’t praying at the time. It’s like most religious conservatives believe that unless you make a giant spectacle of religion (which their own holy book tells them not to do — wonderful reading comprehension there, gentlemen), it’s obviously pressing a godless agenda on everyone.

    So Fischer and Huckabee’s god sounds like an asshole. Just because he isn’t given a special spot over those other gods and forced on the non-Christians, he’s content to let people, including his own followers, die. If I thought such a being existed, I’d be morally bound to oppose him.

    1. If God protected in those places where he was welcomed, then no child would ever have been raped by a priest and Churches would be a safest places on the planet.

      1. [religious helmet on]

        Except that protestants will note that the Catholics are noted for having the child abuse problems, the Pope is evil and God’s not a Catholic. Why would He bother?

        So there.

        [/religious helmet off]

        (Boy it’s tough even visiting there for a moment….)


    2. Is God a vampire? Can’t enter unless invited in?

      Should we set aside some prayer time at movie theaters so that we won’t have shootings there? Why are schools being singled out as being in need in prayer? And what does what students learn have to do with what an adult does? And do these people really not understand the use/mention distinction?

      The implied assertion of this is that people who don’t pray to God, i.e. atheists, don’t deserve to live. They have to engage in a bunch of wordplay to make this not sound as vicious as it actually is; they say “God doesn’t protect schools because schools don’t pray to him”, instead of “God didn’t protect these people because they are atheists”, which is really what they mean (even though it’s absurd to assume that they are atheists).

  2. If only those children had access to F-16s and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters, this senseless rampage could have been prevented.

    If a non-corporeal deity can truly be banned from a brick and mortar school, this surely puts a dent in the argument from omnipresence.

  3. God doesn’t want to go and protect where he’s not wanted, so he allows tragedy like the one in Newtown to happen. What a loving God!

    1. What a disgrace someone would capitalized on this tragedy by selling such a T-shirt.

      I can’t imagine someone being so insensitive as to wear a T-shirt like the one offered on Zazzle. If so, I can imagine that person being punched in the nose for his/her stupidity.

  4. So does god stop being omnipresent when you don’t pray to him? or does he stop being omniscient so he doesn’t know what is going to happen?

    I can’t imagine that a Christian would admit to either of those, so it must be that God stands idly by, perhaps crossing his arms, whilst a tragedy he could easily prevent unfolds, just because he hasn’t been prayed to. Apart from being utterly absurd, it paints a picture of a petty, vindictive tyrant, unworthy of worship.

    1. “So does god stop being omnipresent when you don’t pray to him?”

      It’s known as the Tinkerbell effect.

    2. Yes, but your analysis doesn’t just apply to tragic situations like the one in Newtown. It applies to *prayer* generally. The concept of prayer for me is one of those things, like the idea of god sacrificing himself to himself on the cross in order to ensure his own forgiveness, that, having rejected them myself, I struggle to understand how anyone could take seriously.

  5. Standard fundie xianity theology.

    God is in charge and everything happens for a reason.

    It even says this in the bible in a lot of places i.e. Isaiah.

    So according to their own theology, god caused or let this tragedy happen. BTW, god also elected Obama president, something the fundies still can’t believe.

    The reality is that their god is a sockpuppet. They just make stuff up and say that it came from god. God hates what they hate and wants them to have what they want.

    With 200 million sockpuppet xian gods in the USA, no wonder they never agree on anything.

  6. “It’s obviously the same God who ordered Abraham to kill Isaac.”

    Forget Abraham and Isaac. This is the same god who killed an innocent male child in every Egyptian family (even in the families of slaves) because one person, the Pharaoh, was too stubborn to let “his people” go. So let’s end the killing of innocent children by worshiping a mass child killer?

    1. As I recall, the Pharaoh wasn’t just stubborn on his own, but that Yahweh “hardened his heart” against the plight of the Israelites. So apparently it was some passive-agressive setup by the same sadistic bastard who later concocted the Abraham/Isaac dilemma. Maybe they ought to cast Yahweh as the next Bond villain….

      1. uhhh. . . the Abraham/Isaac dilemma predated Moses and the Pharoah. Can’t argue with the sadistic bastard concept, though!

  7. I think William Lane Craig summed up the Christian view best when he wrote ‘The claim is that we have no basis for saying that any evil we experience is not justly permitted by God.’

  8. This explains why schools in Japan and parts of Europe have such high rates of crime and violence.

    Christians like these do more damage to their religion than any atheist, scientist or politician can. Why is that those who take their religion most literally and seriously end up being the most hateful, horrible and dangerous people?

    1. The reasons are varied and complex, but your question was summarily answered by the man who died exactly a year ago – “religion poisons everything”

  9. Fisher is about as disgusting a human being as I know. I can’t understand how anyone could distinguish him and the buffoons at the FRC from the jackasses at the Westboro Baptist Asylum.

    This clip says everything that needs to be said about all of these delusional jerks, namely, they all need institutionalization and a 24/7 IV feed of anti-psychotic drugs administered in a padded room.

  10. So there you are! God was kicked out of the schools and that’s the reason a maniac with a gun came along and committed mass murder. I wonder If these God botherer’s will ever see that this kind of vengeance is mine kind of protection racket argument holds any relevance to the tragedy. The bigots are in there straight away with a ludicrous uncalled for tirade. Children were brutally murdered that’s what happened. Get off the band wagon!

  11. One of the most unedifying sights after a tragedy like this is to see people scrambling around trying to score silly political and/or religious points. Witness the clowns in these videos, and the many other clowns, not in these videos, who will say other, equally stupid things.

    One would think, one would hope, that the acts of a few sad, crazy, angry individuals, could be seen simply for what they are: the acts of a few sad, crazy, angry individuals.

    Let us note then, that the vast majority of people do not do things like this, and when things like this do happen, as they will, let us respond with sadness, and dignity.

    1. Political points and religious points have pointed differences.

      There can never be a good religious explanation or solution to something like this. The only things the religious can do is move around the excuses.

      But laws which can change the future environment DO have a potential to make a difference. So discussions about politics in the aftermath of a tragedy are not in themselves “silly.” There might be silly proposals — but there also might be better ones.

      So I don’t share your hope that the discussion starts and ends with dignified sadness.

  12. KJV Isaiah 45: 7:

    7 I form the light, and create darkness:

    I make peace, and create evil:
    I the Lord do all these things.

    I make peace, and create evil:

    Sums up fundie xian theology.

    Put another way, god created satan and the demons and lets them run around doing whatever they do. He is the all powerful creator of everything after all.

    Of course they will forget their theology whenever convenient. A hurricane slams into New York city because god hates gays, atheists, uppity women, Democrats, and evolutionary biologists. A tornado slams into Alabama or Missouri and that is…just weather.

    1. Sorry to have to tell you this, but it’s never just weather, not even in Alabama. God’s always pissed about something.

  13. In my circle of friends, which includes ministers, a rabbi and one imam, the views of the Mike Huckabees of the world are repugnant.

    We believe (hope?) his brand of Christianity is in the white dwarf stage making its most noticeable comments just before extinction.

    Even at that, he is, to me, an an abomination not referenced in Leviticus.

  14. Seems logical enough to me. God watched the gunman load his gun, put it in the car, and drive to the school. He knew his thoughts and knew he was about to murder children. But, because those children were located in a building owned by a secular government that does not openly endorse him, God decided to use this as an opportunity to send the American people a message: Give me that endorsement or I will kill your children. This seems entirely in keeping with Old Testament tradition to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if God even hardened a few hearts along the way, if that pesky libertarian free will he’s so proud of proved to be an obstacle.

  15. My eyes are swollen shut today and my nose is a big raw scab – this has broken our hearts – these arrogant, smug assholes should shut their fucking mouths for one second and imagine walking into those classrooms, stepping over blood soaked tiny bodies blown apart by a semi automatic – the row of little backpacks and lunch pails hanging on the hooks – never to be opened again. I was very briefly jealous yesterday – jealous that many believer were truly comforted by the notion of the kids being in heaven – yet jealously quickly turned to anger – this atrocity has them clinging to their faith not because it offers them comfort, but because they are too full of cowardice to face the tragedy head on – absolute cowards. Those of us here have the burden of reality through which to view the slaughter – and it’s motherfucking horrible, this is too much pain for one heart, one world. That believers would be so condescendingly smug doesn’t surprise me but leaves me with an ever increasing sense of hopelessness that a rational society will be prevalent in my lifetime. Also, why is their God so worthy of devotion? If this guy were indeed real – I would be scared shitless – what an evil, vindictive motherfucker.

    1. I am angry about them, not jealous, because their belief that this is god’s will absolves them of the obligation to try to prevent such tragedies in the future.

  16. I don’t think there’s anyone among us who isn’t truly horrified at yesterday’s tragedy in CT. The heart breaks at the mere thought of it.
    However, I, personally, don’t find it surprising that the more faith-headed among our species are using this to push the whole “We kicked god out of school, what do you expect” angle. It was only a matter of time. I’m certainly not excusing this behavior. But who among us didn’t see it coming? I know Jerry did.
    So maybe it’s because I don’t deal too well with this kind of senseless death and pain that I make this (most likely unoriginal) comparison; the god of Fischer and Huckabee sounds more like a mob boss than anything else. If we don’t pay our respects, well, he can’t be held responsible if things “happen”.

    1. I actually hadn’t heard the mob boss comparison before – but oh how fitting. How very fitting. I just don’t even know how to start healing – those families….oh it’s just too much …..I guess all I can do is hold my own child to me, smell his hair, hold him close to my heart, and be grateful that someone didn’t decide to mow him down as well – I can’t even protect him. I can’t promise him he will be safe. This could happen anywhere, any time – what is next? How about all the kids lining up to see Santa for a pic? I know in the big scheme of things, the odds of such atrocities are very low – yet you can’t help but feel vulnerable knowing this can and will happen again.

  17. So Huckabee’s god “lets it happen because of our godlessness” while ordinary, mortal human beings were doing everything they could to contain the damage, and the moron Huckabee thinks we should worship his god? Fuck yourself, Huckabee.

  18. The following Telegram was sent to the Diocese of Bridgeport on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI regarding this terrible tragedy.

    “The Holy Father was promptly informed of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and he has asked me to convey his heartfelt grief and the assurance of this closeness in prayer to the victims and their families, and to all affected by the shocking event. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy he asks God, our Father, to console allthose who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.”

    Cardinal Tarcisio Berton,
    Secretary of State

    1. A telegram of meaningless emo-babble.

      When Papa Rat actually takes steps to end the epidemic of child abuse committed by his clergy, to make public the many secrets about that abuse, and to atone for past crimes of the church in this regard (both the crimes and the secrecy and hiding of them) by liquidating some of its treasure, then – and only then – will I begin to think that perhaps there is a scintilla of good in the RCC. Until then, no, nothing, nothing good at all about that outfit.

  19. I don’t think gun control laws have much to do with anything when it comes to gun violence. It’s the lack of a comprehensive social safety net – the same thing that enables religion.

    Solve that root cause, and both religion and gun violence will decrease. Probably gun ownership as well, without any changes to the laws.

    1. Comprehensive gun laws would not totally stop gun violence, but it would reduce the damage quite a bit. Initial reports were he did this with 2 handguns, that is actually not the case, it turns out he did it with a semi automatic assault rifle with 2 semi automatic pistols.
      These Pistols and the assault rifle have one single use, there is no secondary use for them, the ONLY purpose they have is to kill people, they were designed from the ground up with that purpose in mind. They are not for hunting, not for target shooting, they are for doing exactly what was done with them.
      Would this man have found a way to kill without these weapons? Yeah he probably would have, would he have been able to kill 20 children and 8 adults in the course of minutes? Probably not.

      1. I’m skeptical of how effective pushing gun sales into a black market will be. I don’t think we have a gun violence problem. We have a violence problem.

        And for someone who likes guns, all of them are for target shooting. It’s ridiculous, and offensive, to suggest that anyone who wants to own a particular type of firearm is only interested in using it to kill people.

        Zero is the number of guns I own, by the way. In case you get any brilliant ideas about my motivations.

      2. Unfortunately five Supreme Court justices, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts and Alito — maintain that people have the right to keep guns in their homes, with no “militia” commitments, for the purpose of “self defense.” Actually,that is NOT addressed in Madison’s 2nd Amendment. IMHO these Supremes have it wrong, and the four who disagreed have it right. They can reverse that decision and THAT reversal would permit perhaps even encourage adeequate gun control legislation.

  20. So let us step back 150 years. More god in schools, more believers and a hell of a lot more praying. What was the percentage of children that lived to adulthood? Low compared to today. Thanks to science (not god) more children survive than ever before.

    Also, read your bible, god killed or had killed, thousands of children and innocent people of all kinds. The dude is a real monster and should be kicked to the curb. One time he killed everyone on the planet except 8 people, what an asshole.

  21. The rule of thumb all religions and spiritualities seem to use is this: whatever happens, it happened because it was meant to increase faith.

    Even religious people who find Fischer and Huckabee’s translation of God’s “message” cruel and reprehensible will still use the same heuristic the fundamentalists used. No, God doesn’t want us to use this event to break down the separation of church and state. How foolish! How wicked!

    No, God instead wants us to use this event to realize that God grieves along with us and comforts and sustains us with His love.

    Either way, believers are supposed to deal with tragedy by becoming closer to God, more sure of the eventual good and the importance of faith. It’s all part of the Big Plan. What big plan? Trust in God.

    If you can do it when it’s really hard, then it really helps and really counts.

    1. I think an even simpler rule of thumb is that their god simply can do no wrong. So whatever happened they have to put a positive spin on it just like people in totalitarian states (e.g. North Korea or Stalinist Russia) when asked about policies and decisions of the “Dear Leader”.
      At least the “Dear Leader” can’t read your mind.

  22. “God is not allowed in schools” always cracks me up. A twenty-year-old loony can walk right in with no problem, but poor god is stuck outside at the playground fence, mournfully looking in. What a weakling.

    1. exactly.

      It makes me want to say to these fools: “You know who ELSE we don’t allow public schools to promote? Rampaging gunmen.”

      1. So… if rampaging gunmen aren’t allowed in schools, but they come in *anyway*, wouldn’t that make them more powerful than god?

        1. yup.

          but then, so is the school janitor, the guys who are contracted to paint the place, all the teachers, the administration….

          well, you get the idea.

  23. Also yesterday:

    Chinese children injured in knife attack outside primary school. Police say villager is in custody after attack in which 23 people were injured in Chengping as children arrived for classes.


    I havent’ heard any Christians commenting on God’s preferential treatment of those godless, commie kids in China. Or maybe it’s just that this guy didn’t have access to a personal arsenal.

    1. 22 kids + 1 adult injured, none killed. He obviously wasn’t very good with a knife, was he? Or maybe just not trying hard enough. It does (I’m sure) take much more determination and effort to kill someone with a knife than with a gun. Something the gun lobby would like to pretend isn’t a relevant factor.

      Just wait till the Right to Bear Arms includes Predator drones, no need to actually see the faces of the people you kill, just push a button on the keyboard… could bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘collateral damage’…

      1. Certainly much more determination and effort to kill a large number of people. Even a lone individual has a reasonable chance of stopping someone with a knife before they kill too many. Or, you can get into a destructive, downwardly-spiralling arms race. Bring on the drones!

    1. There was one commenter over on Pharyngula who was convinced her singe semi automatic rifle was the only thing protecting her from when the right-wing idiots in Texas will “take over the military and come after her”.


    2. In another gun control discussion in this bl-ehh, website, an advocate admitted that it didn’t really protect him against a tyrannical government, that it was just the feeling that at least they’re making the effort to defend themselves from a tyrannical government.

      Gun nut feelings are more important than the lives of children.

  24. So Jesus wasn’t allowed in the school. But, Shirley, didn’t he know what was in the sick fuck’s heart as he was loading all that weaponry in his car and then driving to the school?

    Any human who knew of said sick fuck’s intentions as he drove a car full of guns to an elementary school who didn’t call 911 would be facing criminal conspiracy charges right about now.

    So, what’s Jesus’s excuse for not dialing 911? He forgot to leave his iPhone in the charger? Bad reception in Heaven?


    1. Yeah, you think a garbage truck could have run a light and ended it all before it happened. The truck driver would of course be an atheist, so it doesn’t matter if he spends a couple of years in jail for manslaughter.

  25. I guess God isn’t allowed at the movies either? There was another massacre recently when the last Batman movie aired. What about cafés, is God allowed in there?

    Despite how repugnant their declarations are, they are also inconsistent with reality. The common theme in these massacres are guns, not godlessness. They may be stupid, but I think they’re just misleading their followers knowingly in order to avoid the discussion about guns.

  26. if you are looking for ways to come to grips with this, and you have kids, one thing I can highly recommend : go play with your kids. beats prayer hands down, any day of the week.

    1. This has been the only thing keeping me together. Then I get the moments of love surging through my being and my mind goes back to the parents who are suffering, who will never feel their child’s arms around them again – and my heart breaks all over. I had been intentionally avoiding the news for over a week now, precisely because I was sick and broken from reading headline after headline of fucked up things happening to kids day after day. So a week of avoiding news and then this. I know those without kids are hurting too, I do not mean to diminish their feelings in the least, but I have to say that since having a kid of my own, these stories rip you apart in a way I hadn’t thought possible….it’s so PERSONAL.

      1. It is, and it isn’t.

        You don’t need to read about this any more. Really. We don’t have a duty to scour sources for more details — unless we want to. We know enough.

        1. Indeed.

          It may sound heartless, and perhaps it is.

          But I’ve intentionally paid no more attention to this story than to anything else in the news, like what’s-her-name’s withdrawal of her application for Secretary of State.

          There is absolutely nothing I could possibly do with more information about the tragedy other than make myself feel miserable, and there’s nothing to be gained by my misery. Indeed, there’s already too much misery in the world, so why add mine to it?

          I’ll save my misery for something personal and / or local, and I suggest others do likewise. Unless, of course, there actually is something you can do about whatever it is that’s making you miserable.


        2. replying b/c Goren replied, and thought about this one for a bit. some random remarks :

          there are certainly can be pieces of information that will help aid long-term, wide-range change, e.g. for policy decisions, to influence how one votes, how one thinks about problems like this, etc. also, the info might become important far in the future – e.g. I read about the U.Texas Austin tower shooter a year ago, and only then did I learn there was a real psychological and potential brain defect playing a role, where before I callously considered it the work of a “looney”.

          however, in the immediate sense – which is what I think we are talking about here – there is not anything difficult to understand about what happened. I think nothing new was really learned since after the first 5 minutes we heard about it. what happened can’t be changed. nobody can go back. of course we yearn to do so and it maddens us.

          TL;DR : I agree

        3. forgot : it really maddens us (well, me) when, not being able to do anything about it, we have to still go through our normal days, irritated by how the cup of coffee didn’t turn out right, buying some stuff online, commenting on WEIT – and I think THAT contrast is really the thing that makes me wonder if there isn’t anything else I can do. One can imagine going and talking to people involved, offering anything to them – but is that what they want? will that actually help? I have heard that saying anything is better than saying nothing, but…

      2. Jeanine,
        I posted this comment over at Greg Ladens.

        I spent this morning sitting with my 18 month old great grand daughter, drinking my 4 shot latte. It is becoming our tradition to make my coffee together and then for her to dip her almond cookie into it. I am having trouble not weeping. I own guns. I enjoy shooting them. I would gladly have that enjoyment restricted or eliminated if it would reverse what has happened. I would give them up to prevent it ever happening again.
        I spent this morning sitting with my 18 month old great grand daughter, drinking my 4 shot latte. I want to start a conversation, today, as to what we know we can do to begin to resolve this issue, massive changes to gun control and licensing, better health care, a societal commitment to social justice…., and what we need to gain better understanding of ,the contribution of violence in media, and such.
        I spent this morning sitting with my 18 month old great grand daughter, drinking my 4 shot latte. We need to start, today, to look at what we can do, now, and examine, fearlessly, what we can do tomorrow. That there are 100s of years of guns in circulation is daunting, but if we do not start to do something, even if at the start it is not enough, it will never get better.
        I am having trouble looking at my great grand daughter and not weeping.
        Perhaps that is because I should be.
        It is way past time.
        Robert B Estrada

          1. Jeanine,
            I am torn about my guns. I am not given to grand gestures and do not know how to respond to this state of affairs. I think the most effective course of action I can take is to become an activist in promoting drastic changes in laws regarding weapons possession and licensing, as well as social justice causes. Opposition to the NRA is an additional area of opportunity. I have always despised their views on gun ownership. Perhaps we need to start a drive to have the government declare them an organization that promotes the spread of terror. A bit hyperbolic I know but I am very emotional, sad and angry at the moment.

            1. Robert, I don’t own guns myself but I know plenty of people who do. Responsible people who handle and store their guns with utmost care. I am torn too. Each time I think I come to a decision about gun control I am then swayed to the opposing position – like a ping pong ball. Maybe this is due to my inability for critical thinking on the subject. I just don’t know. I don’t know which statistics are spin or fact. How often guns are successfully used in self-defense in relation to how often guns are used for harm? I’m sure the latter towers over the former. Were we to be a gunless citizenry would the government indeed take advantage of that? I find that highly unlikely – we are a democratic nation. So those excuses are paper thin in my opinion but what about a community in which the only armed people are law enforcement and criminals – that hardly seems like a solution. What I do know without a doubt is that no citizen needs semi-automatic weapons. Their sole purpose is mowing down lives at a high rate of speed – there is no situation save for a zombie apocalypse in which you would need such devastating firepower. I feel your pain, and I am impressed that as a gun owner your kneejerk reaction wasn’t close-minded arrogance and rage. Give your granddaughter a hug for me.

              1. Jeanine,
                She gets hugs frequently. I’ll reserve one for her from you.
                I am not a hunter or a paranoid. I am mechanical engineer and spent 1969 to 1972 in the infantry. I know a lot about guns as weapons and machines. I enjoy target shooting. I do not hunt. I do not enjoy them enough to put anyone at the least risk. I despise the NRA, and that other group that said the children’s blood was on the hands of gun control advocates are despicable beyond words. I want to see a system where to possess a gun training must first be passed as well as psychological profiling and back ground checks. To have a gun in a business or at home should require special justification and permits. Military style assault weapons should only be produced by military contract, and only owned by specially vetted people, and never be out in public. Nonprofit clubs in guarded secure locations with firing ranges rated for the type of weapons would be where they would reside, as would hand guns. High power hunting rifles, which are essentially the same as sniper rifles, also would reside in such facilities until checked out with advanced notice and presentation of a valid hunting license. Any and all of these measures can and will be circumvented but in my opinion will greatly reduce gun violence.
                Underlying all this is the imperative need to standardize gun access laws nation wide. The manufacture of low cost guns must be stopped. I think the government should either assist these manufacturers retool to make other things or buy the companies outright and shut them down. As well, if the government declares any weapons illegal to own with no grandfathering of ownership, they should compensate the owners for the value of the guns. I think this would only be just.
                I am a conservative non-traditionalist socialist. We will only get as far as we can together.
                Let your children play, and you too.

  27. Everywhere I see Huckabee’s preemptive fuckwittery posted, the responses flay him by a staggering margin. The doughy pants-load couldn’t walk this back if his feet were the size of canoes.

  28. So, this happens because “God” is not allowed in schools…

    so child rape in Catholic Churches happens because….?

    1. …oh, and let’s just take it direct to the murder phase, shall we?


      On July 27, 2008, a politically motivated[2][3] fatal shooting took place at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Motivated by a desire to kill liberals and Democrats, gunman Jim David Adkisson fired a shotgun at members of the congregation during a youth performance of a musical, killing two people and wounding seven others.

      so I guess God isn’t allowed in that church either.

      1. Ichthyic wrote:

        so I guess God isn’t allowed in that church either.

        What — a UU?

        Ha. Fundamentalists would argue that the UU’s also “kicked out God.” For which you could make a fair enough case …

    2. so child rape in Catholic Churches happens because….?

      …because those young boys are a bunch of Jezebels irresistibly tempting those poor innocent priests. Duh! Innit obvious?

      Satan and his minions are a wily lot, you know. Always perverting the faithful, and there ain’t nothin’ Jesus can do to stop them. It all comes down to the shoulders of the faithful. And, as we all know, the spirit is willing, but the flesh…ah, the flesh…what chance mere spirit against weak flesh?


      1. Satan and his minions are a wily lot, you know

        well, there ya go, all we need to do is ban Satan from churches.


  29. Actually, school violence happens because we keep atheism, philosophy, and science out of schools.

    Teachers aren’t allowed to inform students that God does not exist; they aren’t allowed to inform them that there is no libertarian free will; and they aren’t allowed to tell students that anyone who rejects the theory of evolution or rejects the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is irrational. Clearly, then, these problems explain why there is violence in schools.

    (Oddly, of course, I don’t recall any atheist or philosopher or scientist making that argument.)

  30. A relative of mine posted this on FB: “A god-fearing man with a gun is no threat; a god-hating man with a gun should be feared indeed.”

    What gall, and what bass-ackwardness!

    How many massacres over the ages have been religiously motivated?!

  31. off-topic/outdated:

    a public thanks to Prof. Ceiling Cat for the Peter Atkin’s piece, the wife and I very much appreciate this golden essay.

  32. Comparing, for example, the map from that Atlantic piece on “The Geography of Gun Deaths” to the Pew Forum’s map for “importance of religion in one’s life” being “very important”, would appear to suggest that geographic correlation to higher levels of firearms fatalities seems to be more to higher levels of religiosity, rather than higher levels of irreligiosity.

    Which would imply Huckabee is nigh-completely wrong about irreligion being the problem; while correlation is not sufficient to causation, it’s nigh-unavoidably necessary.

  33. I think it’s important to contextualise this incident: 19,000 children die every day, more than a third from malnutrition, others from preventable diseases. Every last one of those is just as tragic.

            1. uh, exactly?

              you bringing up an entirely irrelevant statistic is mereley distracting from THIS tragedy.

              if my kid dies, and you come to the funeral and tell me:

              you should think of the 50 thousand other children that died in the last 10 years!

              do you REALLY think that’s appropriate or warranted?

              what kinda jerk ARE you?

              1. It is serious. You could have made your point completely without calling the other commenter a jerk.

              2. that’s it Jerry.

                *kicks dirt*

                your policies are both hypocritical and haphazardly applied.


            2. Why is it that the Freethought Blogs commentariat cannot converse without resorting to personal invective? Thank you, Dr. Coyne, for keeping this place civilized.

    1. Yes, I do get the point. If 28 Albanian kids had been killed in an aircrash yesterday nobody here would notice.

      Rather closer to home, the roughly thirty** other kids killed by guns in the past week in the US don’t attract anybody’s attention.

      It takes a dramatic event like this one to bring the subject up. Especially if there’s a macabre distinguishing feature like the thoroughness of the gunman shooting each victim multiple times.

      It’s not logical to be shocked by this one and not notice all the others. It is normal human behaviour though. If that’s what it takes to raise a public outcry and (maybe) get something done to control guns, then so be it. In a rational society things wouldn’t work that way, but society is composed of mostly irrational people…

      (** Thirty = my guesstimate from a quick Google)

      1. I think the point is “it happens, let’s pretend it’s not really a problem and just go on letting it happen”.

        1. Depends which ‘it’ you’re referring to – the ongoing problem (of deaths, whether gun deaths or worldwide child mortality) – or the occasional school massacre. I took the point to be that ongoing individual deaths are just ignored as background noise. I think you’re in agreement but I may be misreading your meaning.

    2. I agree. But, compassion for individual suffering isn’t devalued because others suffer too; we are personal beings who find it difficult to think compassionately on a large scale. And much of the suffering surely arises, because we can’t have a dialogue with peoples that are infected with irrational prejudices in which religions play a major part.

      1. Absolutely. When I’ve brought this point up, people are quick to assume that my purpose is to trivialise these deaths, but that’s not it at all. Of course we should feel compassion, I’m just saying that people should also contextualise the incident and be wary of being directed by the media who to feel sympathy for and when.

  34. The redneck apologetics kicks in right away of course: any mention of gun control and the idiots whine about the gub’mint taking away their guns as if gun control was synonymous with confiscation and prohibition. Unfortunately cashing in on other’s misery seems to be typical as well; people were cashing in the day of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

  35. “I don’t feel like…gloating about how this supports the absence of God”

    You kinda did, though, didn’t you?

    I still do not see how this supports the absence of God, given evolutionists’ belief that man is not special.

    Unless you mean it supports the absence of the Christian God, in which case you might want to reconsider the deaths of Sts. Stephen, James, Peter, Paul and of course Christ.

    Where do you get this idea of a Christian deus ex machina?

    1. I still do not see how this supports the absence of God, given evolutionists’ belief that man is not special.

      Non sequitur much?

    2. “Where do you get the idea of a Christian deus ex machina?”

      Mostly from Christians, every time someone ‘miraculously’ survives a disaster or beats cancer (with the negligent help of the entire apparatus of modern medicine).

      But also partially from common sense. If I could have, I would have made the gunman miss all those kids he shot at. Any decent person would have. If god exists, he chose not to, for whatever half-assed, convoluted excuse you want to dream up. It’s really pretty simple.

      1. Kevin,
        Aree you the kevin sanders who has been commenting on greg’s blog?
        YOu almost make me regret responding to you with reason.

    3. Where do you get this idea of a Christian deus ex machina?

      Jesus is said to be all-knowing and all-powerful.

      More to the point, he is said to be watching over us, in preparation for the day when he will judge us worthy of his eternal presence or infinite torture.

      That means that Jesus saw the guy prepare for his rampage and watched while he drove to the school and carried it out.

      Had Jesus placed an anonymous call to 911 the moment the guy turned the key in the ignition, police would have been waiting at the school to apprehend him and the tragedy would have been averted. Nobody’s free will would have been compromised, and he’s still have far more than enough to judge the shooter.

      Indeed, anybody who knew as much about what was going on and failed to alert police would be committing criminal conspiracy. Had the man stopped at a confessional on the way to the school and told the priest everything Jesus presumably must know, the priest would have been legally and morally obligated to call 911 and would be in serious shit if he didn’t.

      So, fuck deus ex machina. Why the hell didn’t Jesus do what any responsible citizen would have unhesitatingly done?

      Jesus just committed a heinous crime of omission. If he wants to have any pretense to righteousness, his excuse damned well better be his non-existence.



  36. So the Drill Baby Drill mentality brought us the BP spill; Savita died in agony because “this is a Catholic country”; gun nuttery is responsible for your routine American massacre (it is a matter of routine at this point, isn’t it?); and then you have the republican ban on stem cell research and the king of stupid things, climategate.

    Oh and let’s not forget what kind of laissez-faire policies produced our current economic crisis, which has resulted in more than a few suicides.

    On the other hand, you have the “extreme left” doing what? Legalizing pot and gay marriage? Protesting nativity scenes?

    How much further will crazy conservative extremism harm our culture? The sad part is I see no escape. How can we fight this??

    1. Legalising pot may cut the ground from under the business model of the drug cartels which are very violent. Its a huge step towards a more civil society.

      Gay marriage is a step towards a more civil society. We have to accept and respect differences.

      Lets hope that this atrocity forms the foundation of a new push to confront the powerful gun lobby.

  37. I wrote to my Congressman – a Republican by the way – and urged him to act. It is time to look at the evidence and do something about these mass shootings. There are two broad paths of inquiry: mental health and easy access to semi-automatic weapons. We need our leaders to face up to this regardless of the political cost.

    1. A good start for rifles would be: (1) max. 5 (or even 3) cartridge magazines and (2) bolt action only – no gas-assist reloading. For shotguns they should only be the break-to-load type and not the pump action. Handguns are tricky though, especially if people claim they’re for self-defense. I guess their magazines could still be limited to 5.

  38. Of course Fischer ignores cases like the Bath, Michigan school bombing in 1927 that killed 38 children and 8 adults – long before God was kicked out of the schools.

    1. Of course Fischer ignores cases like the Bath, Michigan school bombing in 1927 that killed 38 children and 8 adults

      Hmm, haven’t heard of that one.
      Well, it won’t be long before someone gets the idea into their head to try to beat the record (which ever one you consider being appropriate ; the Bath Michigan one several batches of explosives more than individual-murder devices. It’s in the nature of these things.

  39. People…….. We are not suppposed to Judge or blame God. He speaks to us in many ways. I am not saying that this is his fault but we don’t know what God has in store for us.

    1. “We are not suppposed to Judge or blame God.”

      Who told you that?!

      Please explain what you mean by “he speaks to us” and “what is in store for us”.

      1. People have something called Free Will. The bible says that God gave this to us so that we can make our own decisions. How can we blame God if we have the choice to either do this or not?
        I mean that God speaks to us by helping us figure out how to cope with this terrible tragedy.

        1. The bible also says that the last time people decided ‘en masse’ to exercise their free will god got pissed and drowned them all. But somehow, nowadays he’s quite happy to stand by and do nothing to stop a single crazy person?

          Talking about crazy, is a psychopath exercising free will or are his actions just a symptom of his disease? Is this disease because of ‘God’s’ imperfect design, or is it that he inflicts it upon people. Either way, the blame is clearly on his shoulders.

          Free will is just about the lamest argument anyone can use to excuse their god for his negligence and/or incompetence.

            1. “How can we blame God if we have the choice to either do this or not?”

              I’m merely pointing out the shortcomings in your argument. How could I possibly wish to apportion blame to, or redirect it away from, any of the thousands of non-existent ‘beings’ invented by people?

              1. I totally agree with you. My first response stated that God gave us Free will to be able to make decisions for ourselves wheter they be good or bad.

            2. I don’t blame god for anything, it doesn’t exist. Pointing out inconsistencies in the belief systems of people does not equate to the ‘hates god’ rationale often put forward by Christians to dismiss such crfiticism..

        2. What exactly does he “do” to help us figure out how to cope with tragedy? Btw, free will appears to be an illusory product of the brain and not a substantiated quality of reality.

          1. If a person is religious, it helps us (those who believe) learn how to cope. I for one am religious,( not a fanatic) but I do believe in God but I am very liberal in my religious beliefs. If free will does not exist then what allows someone to make the “wrong” choice?

            1. A comforting lie is still a lie. At the very least, I urge you to acknowledge the lie to yourself for what it is, even if you still choose to consciously fool yourself.

              And what, exactly, is your will supposed to be “free” of? If it is free from rules, then it is a random drunkard’s walk, aimless and purposeless. If it is free from chaos, then it is constrained by regulation. It matters not whether the rules are the familiar ones of the physical world or the fantastic ones of the faery-tale realms of the gods. Wherever they may take place, all events are deterministic, random, or stochastic (random but with weighted probabilities following predictable rules).

              Does it make you uncomfortable to know that you are naught but a sophisticated computer, even if the computer in question is a phantasmagorical soul pulling your strings?

              Sorry. Tough shit. Life’s a beach and then the tide comes in, and all that jazz.

              Santa isn’t real, and neither is the Tooth Faery. Just as no amount of clapping will bring Tinker Bell to life, it doesn’t matter how many Hail Marys you chant (or whatever spells you cast in your make-believe sessions): when you die you’ll still be just as dead.

              Learning the difference between reality and fantasy, especially learning that your favorite fantasies are still just made-up stories in books, is part of growing up.

              And it’s high past time you growed up. Especially if you pride yourself on your maturity for abstaining from fanaticism.


              1. Not a very helpful post! Don’t you think it might be better to establish a more cordial interaction with people, even if you don’t agree with their beliefs?

                If you were the recipient of such invective, do you think it would change your mind?

              2. If the object of Jean’s fantasies was not “God” but “Peter Pan” or “Hercules” or “Luke Skywalker,” would you not suggest that telling her to grow up would be a perfectly reasonable response?

                Religious fantasies are every bit as immature as any other type, and far more harmful. Especially when the fantasists have convinced themselves of the reality of their fantasies, as Jean has done.

                Coddling such behavior by treating it with underserved respect only serves to strengthen it. If Jean thought I respectfully disagreed with her, she could easily retreat back into her shell, bolstered by the knowledge that even an outspoken atheist like me thinks she’s being reasonable.

                She’s not being reasonable. She’s being childish, and she’s not going to even have a chance to grow up so long as everybody keeps patting her on the head and telling her how good she is for dutifully writing her letters to Santa every year.

                If she wants infantile affirmation, she can try to find a nursery somewhere to retreat to. But if she wants to go out in the real world and be treated as a big girl, then she needs to stop sucking her thumb.

                Sorry, but, once again, that’s what it means to grow up and be an adult. (Regardless of what the calendar says about your age.)

                And, you know what? Sure, it hurts to give up your fantasies and grow up, but what you gain from doing so makes that loss and pain seem like as meaningless an “owie” as a scraped knee.



              3. No, I don’t think telling an adult you don’t know to grow up is ever a useful response, since it creates a situation where reason flies out of the window and flaming starts.

                I’m not an accommodationist, I believe strongly that religion is not compatible with a full acceptance of science. But on the other hand I do think that the most important thing is that we learn to treat each other with respect and compassion. And then, who knows, one side or the other might see the light. The thing is to keep our arguments reasonable, but not personal, I think.

              4. Sorry, Roq.

                While it is wise to start with an initial assumption that all deserve respect, it is unwise to continue to grant said provisional respect to those who demonstrate that they do not deserve it.

                And all those who need more than two hands to count their ages and yet still have imaginary friends do not deserve such respect — at least, not in situations where they wear their pride in their imaginary friendship on their sleeves.

                And which behavior do you think is more patronizing and rude: to think somebody a childish fool for maintaining a belief in imaginary friends well into adulthood and tell her so and that she needs to grow up, or to encourage her to hold on to her imaginary friends because you don’t want to hurt her poor widdle feewings and make her think that you’re just a meanine who doesn’t like her?

                I’m the type to tell you that your fly is open, discreetly at first, and in no uncertain terms if it’s not just open but you’re actually waving your business about and telling everybody how proud you are of your pee-pee. You’re the type to smile and nod and maybe even ooh and aah lest you give that person an inferiority complex and make yourself feel uncomfortable at the same time. (Assuming, of course, a typical modern social context where clothing is not optional.)



            2. There are various variables to consider when studying behaivour. When tragedy strikes, flippant dubious claims about cause and effect are often made. There is no supernatural force(s) at work that “allows” human beings to make choices.

        3. Let’s assume Free Will exists. God could have saved those kids without interfering with the gunman’s free will. The guns could have all jammed. The bullets could have all missed. Or missed vital organs. Or turned into marshmallows before they hit. The gunman would still have freely chosen to kill, but he wouldn’t have harmed anyone. God, if he exists, could have done that, but he didn’t. He’s either evil, indifferent to evil or doesn’t exist. Either way unworthy of worship.

          1. Actually, it’s even worse than that.

            By all accounts, the gunman was a bright young lad.

            By the time he decided to pick up a gun, he was already a lost cause.

            If Jesus had even a fraction of the power of a Greek Muse, he could have inspired the gunman to apply his brilliance to something more productive, and to channel his violent tendencies into a video game. He would then be an ace student at some ivy-league school building a brighter future for all of us — and, of course, his will would have remained free. And the victims would still be alive to exercise their own wills.

            So Jesus clearly lacks the power and / or imagination of even the lowliest members of the Greek pantheon. Remind me again why we should even give him the time of day…?



            1. Also–I don’t think one has much choice about whether or not to be born with a mental disorder. Jesus could at least level the playing field.

              1. True…but, in this particular case, 60 Minutes last night was (irresponsibly) reporting that the mental disorder in question was Aspergers, which causes the antithesis of violence. Not only are Aspies much less prone to violent outbreaks in the first place, they’re much more likely to be the victims of violence, themselves.


              2. I agree (though–it’s now official, I hear–Asperger’s no longer exists. I know; fighting over labels. It’s still in there somewhere–back to ‘on the spectrum’ I believe).

                But I don’t have confidence that all such diagnoses are accurate (or that we even begin to know what’s going on with many mental syndromes, where to draw lines between them, how many can be additive, etc.). Nor do I have much faith (!) in media reporting in this story so far; could they have possibly done a more egregious job than they did at first? Wrong perp, wholly made up building access story, completely wrong about mother’s occupation, etc. …)

    2. People…….. We are not suppposed to Judge or blame God.

      Why not? Who is going to stop us? How do you know that? Were you there? (Supposedly) he gave us brains to think with and a Tree Of Knowledge of good and evil, which we weren’t supposed to eat from.

      He speaks to us in many ways.

      They told me they don’t exist. There are thousands of gods. Or they would, if they existed anyway.

      I am not saying that this is his fault but we don’t know what God has in store for us.

      Well right. It’s almost certainly not the gods fault. They don’t even exist.

      And the gods don’t have anything in store for anyone. Even most xians believe we are responsible for living our own lives and making our own decisions. Except the Calvinists and they are just meat puppets.

    3. he speaks to us in many ways.

      IOW, you project a lot of your thoughts onto god.

      you should really try taking personal responsibility for who you are.

      it’s a good thing.

      we don’t know what God has in store for us.

      indeed. just like with any other imaginary friend one can name.

    4. So do you think your god was speaking to us through the gunman ?

      You know, one of his many ways ?

      I mean, who are we to judge.

    5. No, no. Just a few days ago we read on this web site how Andie McDowell thinks that God should get the credit for the beauty of orchids. And Francis Collins is convinced of God’s existence and beneficence because waterfalls are so gorgeous.

      What you mean is that we are only to judge God favorably. And we are to slobber all over ourselves thanking him for “his” bounty. He gets no blame for cystic fibrosis or river blindness or for doing nothing in the face of a deranged killer who slaughters innocent children.

    6. If your delusion of god has more innocents to die pointlessly in store for us and you preach that it isn’t his fault?

        1. Jean,
          I personally am a total nonbeliever in any supernatural entities. I am therefore not going to judge “god”. My reaction and others are to the hypothetical entity you propose and the attributes you ascribe to it. You said “we don’t know what god has in store for us”. Based on the other attributes ascribed to it routinely by most Christians, it evidently had the witnessing massacre of 20 innocent children in store for us, and a horrible end of life for them. Your only way out of giving it responsibility is to either assign it other attributes or admitting it is weak, evil, indifferent, or does not exist.

  40. What a vicious thing to say. Mike Huckabee really ought to get down on his knees and beg the forgiveness of the teachers, students, parents, and community of Sandy Hook.

    1. Of course not – god could have supplied the weapons you know, and there’s nothing the gub’mint can do about it.

    1. Correct me if I am wrong, but I am not sure it is fair to say it is Zazzle that is “capitalizing” on the incident. My understanding is that Zazzle just provides a framework and a platform for people to design and sell their own custom designed t-shirts. It is the designer of the t-shirt (listed on the t-shirt website) who is at fault. Anyone is free to go to Zazzle and design a t-shirt countering the idiotic message on the referenced t-shirt.

      Criticizing Zazzle for this is somewhat like saying that you would not buy anything from Amazon because one of the books they happen to sell is Mein Kampf.

  41. …another Looney quote….
    “what a wonderful joy for those Children that were killed, now they will be in the arms of God this Christmas”

  42. I’m just waiting for the first apologist to say the gunman was an atheist, he must have been, since ‘no true Xtian’ would have done that…

    (Evidence? Well we all know Xtians prize the lives of children, especially unborn ones, while atheists want to kill them all…)

  43. Found this on the web.

    “**** One guy tries to use a shoe bomb = Everyone at the airport takes their shoes off.

    **** 31 school shootings since Columbine = no changes.”

    1. Saw that one too. I also just saw this one (paraphrasing):

      “So allowing everyone access to free medical care is going to ruin the country… but allowing everyone access to semi-automatic assault rifles is going to save it?”

      1. Thanks – have collected it.

        As an Australian that has both free medical care and tight control on guns, the US does look like a strange creature from time to time.

        And the English police don’t carry guns, however the Aust police do.

        1. The exception in Britain being Northern Ireland, where the police routinely carry weapons. Of course, Northern Ireland is one of, if not the most religious areas of the UK with a long history of sectarian violence between Catholic and Protestant Christians. I guess it’s a case of my Jesus is better than your Jesus. It’s also routine to see armed police around key installations like airports, mainly thanks to the threat of terrorism from the ‘religion of peace’.

  44. Not sure if it’s been observed before, but God is also absent in most schools – of any type, through university – in Europe. Come to think of it, in Europe God is also absent from most shopping malls, and cinemas, and…

    For some reason however these types of shootings are extremely uncommon in Europe.

    I’m curious to hear an explanation by these religious nutcases that manages to avoid the difference in gun laws.

    1. Marvol,
      You know the way some corntries and statesmake deals on taxes and financing to induce corporations to relocate facilities there? He got a tax break and a promotional deal to let him put his name on the currency and into a pledge to relocate here in return for leaving Europe. You all should be grateful to us for shouldering the burden of supporting this malifactor. However, we hear you are trying to undercut us in the bidding for allah.

  45. It rings true that a “gentleman” wouldn’t go somewhere uninvited. But of course a “gentleman” would do whatever it takes to prevent such an event from happening. Because “gentleman-ness” would cease in a crisis situation. Omitting that part is the whole trick. And, alas, it seems to work.

    Religiots often build their views around truisms, little pieces that can be easily swallowed. Then they make something that is like a pattern interrupt, a shortcut while someone still thinks “its true”, where they then can insert their nonsense.

    I guess I’m saying, do not underestimate their suggestion techniques and their mind hacks. You don’t need to go that far and bring in child abuse on religious grounds. In this case you open up a new can of worms, and it looks impiously.

  46. I’m also disturbed by seemingly innocuous claims like those of a Newtown clergyman:

    Olivia Engel had a part in a nativity play at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church. “She was supposed to be an angel in the play. Now she’s an angel up in heaven,” Monsignor Robert Weiss told a standing-room-only crowd at the church before the play on Saturday.

    I’ve written more about this type of (dangerous) false consolation here.

    1. Waaaaah! I’ll put this very gently because who knows, her parents might by accident read this thread one day but – doesn’t that sort of pat answer rather trivialise the lives lost?

  47. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants: Thomas Jefferson. Hang & shoot is what America is all about! Islam ate Besantium and reds ate czars because they didn’t execute anyone. Now Putin don’t like us giving assault rifles to Syrian freedom fighters. Better bloodshed than slavery! When Caesar put down Celtic liberty, all we got was fascist empire. Besides, their parents all voted for Obama.

  48. Huckabee claims it was because we have thrown God out of our schools! I thought God was never supposed to be in our schools, according to Madison and his First Amendment. Huckabee makes me grossly ill and some people want to run him for President!

  49. God was in the schools in 1927:  But . . . Bath Township, Michigan, on May 18, 1927, three bombs were exploded at Bath School, killing 38 elementary (second- to sixth-grade) school children, as well as two teachers and four other adults (plus the bomber), and at least 58 others were injured. The bomber? The treasurer for the School Board, who drove up in his car and set off a bomb to kill and injure those who went to the school to help. That, not Newtown, not Columbine, not Virginia Tech, was the deadliest mass murder in a school in U.S. history.   (Reference This is True arcie@thisistrue.com)

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