Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) – There are a lot of things I am sick of hearing after massacres such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Here are six of them:
1. “It was God’s will.”
There may or may not be a God, but if there is, I sure hope he (or she or it) does not go around raising up killers, plying them with semiautomatic weapons, goading them to target practice, encouraging them to plot mass killings and cheering them on as they shoot multiple bullets into screaming 6- and 7-year-old children. Much better to say there is no God or, as Abraham Lincoln did, “The Almighty has his own purposes,” than to flatter ourselves with knowing what those purposes are.
2. “Jesus called the children home.”
I don’t want to hear that Jesus needed 20 more kids in heaven on Friday – that Madeleine Hsu (age 6) or Daniel Barden (age 7) were slain because Jesus couldn't wait to see them join his heavenly choir. Even the most fervent Christians I know want to live out their lives on Earth before going “home” to “glory.” The Hebrew Bible patriarchs rightly wanted long lives. Moses lived to be 120. Abraham was 175 when he died. Madeleine and Daniel deserved more than 6 or 7 years.
3. “After death, there is the resurrection.”
In the Jewish tradition, it is offensive to bring up the afterlife while in the presence of death. Death is tragic, and deaths such as these are unspeakably so. So now is the time for grief, not for pat answers to piercing questions. “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,” says the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, and now is not a time for laughing or dancing or talk of children raised from the dead.
4. “This was God’s judgment.”
After every hurricane or earthquake, someone steps up to a mic to say that “this was God’s judgment” on New Orleans for being too gay or the United States for being too secular. I’m not sure what judgment of God would provoke the killing of 27 innocent women and children, but I certainly don’t want to entertain any theorizing on the question right now. Let’s leave God’s judgment out of this one, OK? Especially if we want to continue to believe God's judgments are "true and righteous altogether" (Psalms 19:9).
5. “This happened because America is too secular.”
Unlike those of us who are shaking their heads trying to figure out what transpired in Newtown, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an evangelical icon, apparently has it all figured out. We don’t need fewer guns in the hands of killers, he said Friday on Fox News, we need more God in our public schools.
“Should we be so surprised that schools have become such a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability,” Huckabee said in an astonishing flight of theological and sociological fancy.
Just keep plying people like the killer with Glocks and Sig Sauers. As long as we force Jewish and Buddhist Americans to say Christian prayers, then the violence will magically go away. The logic here is convoluted to the point of absent, leaving me wondering whether what passes for "leadership" in America can sink any lower.
6. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
If ever there has been a more idiotic political slogan, I have yet to hear it. The logical fallacy here is imagining that people are killed either by people or by guns. Come again? Obviously, guns do not kill people on their own. But people do not shoot bullets into people without guns. At Sandy Hook and Aurora and Columbine, people with guns killed people. This is a fact. To pretend it away with slogans is illogical and revolting.
The question now is: Are those of us who have not yet been killed by guns going to allow these massacres to continue unimpeded? Are Americans that callous? Is life here so cheap? I have read the Second Amendment, and I find no mention there of any right to possess any gun more advanced than an 18th-century musket? Do I really have the right to bear a nuclear weapon? Or a rocket-propelled grenade? Then why in God’s name would any U.S. civilian have the right (or the need) to bear a .223-caliber assault rifle made by Bushmaster?
If you believe in a God who is all powerful and all good, then covering up for the Almighty at a time like this is in my view deeply unfaithful. Today is a day to shake your fist at heaven and demand answers, and then to shake it harder when no answers are forthcoming. To do anything else is in my view to diminish the idea of God, and to cheapen faith in the process.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.
(Romans 1:20) . . .For his invisible [qualities] are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable;
(Hebrews 3:4) . . .Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God.
I am not a believer in any "god", christian or otherwise. I believe in humans, for good or for bad, and morality can be reduced to what is in our self-interest. The weapons of choice for such killings are not commonly used for hunting. Even in hunting you don't need a magazine with more than 3 or 4 shells (some would argue 2). A semi-automatic is not needed, even for bird hunting. As an attorney, I am unaware of anything in the Second Amendment that would prevent the government from restricting the types of weapons being sold or the number of shells a magazine can hold. The benefit to society is obvious and that the "moral" lesson.
So should we an airplanes cause terrorists used airplanes to murder 3000 Americans......Stephen you are so blinded by your emotions that you are deaf- dumb and blind.
False equivalencies are fun, but illogical.
I also do not want to hear expressed the false equivalency of equating the violent murder of 6 or 7 years olds with legalized abortion.
Well since you brought it up murder is murder wether you do it in an OR or in a classroom.....wether you do it with a Gun or you do it with a knife or suction machine or a chemical that burns.or an airplane or a bomb....it is all the taking of a life and it is not the instrument that does it it s the murderer......
I have not read a more through viewpoint on guns and religion until this one. No kidding. I agree with every point made and hope that other share the same views as the author. Job well done.
Fundi's can, hypocritically, say that "It Is God's Will" when the Republicans win but it's not God's Will when the Democrats do....Similarly God gives life to EVERYONE, but He only kills the ones that Fundi's don't like...Satan kills all of the others...a very convenient point of view for the most part.
Oh so if you don't want to hear it then nobody can talk about it then? And then you call christians and religions intolerant, it's his freedom of speech and he can say whatever he wants. I don't want to hear or read a lot of stuff, and i'm not going to stop people commenting on what they think. I don't want to hear a lot of the things you said in here, but still I respect it and I don't trash you for saying so.
that's real white of you
It's simple Christians are delusion and live in la la land.
I AM SORRY YOU THINK THAT WAY. I AM ALSO SORRY WHAT LAND YOU WILL BE LIVING IN WHEN YOU PASS ON.
Nah I'll be non-existent just as you after death.
Josh! Yeah, You! Your cap locks are on.
(Revelation 21:3, 4) 3 With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. 4 And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
Revelation?? Everyone knows that John the Dopehead must have crashed his camel into a burning poppy field or worse to come up with that mess.
By definition -of God-, whatever happens, it's been created by God. From current science, whatever happens, it's undeniable obligation of its own causality chain-no free will-. So we're some kind of object of some higher abstract powers-laws of nature, God-. It hurts to be any kind of object of anything, but we can not prevent even these kind of massacres of our own babies by our own sons by these manners. It needs a great deals of wisdom to accept life as it is. So during all humanity history we created too too many philosophies to accept life, not to deny life.
To the weary of hearts,
God exists and on this thought I am certain. My long drawn out imagination tells me so. I will not let the unimaginable atheists harden my mind's imaginable essences to dare dream of places unknown and yet to become! Atheism seems duty bound to shun everyone's imaginative desires and severely lay wasted all those who dare to dream!
Dare to dream? There is a difference between dreaming in an imaginary figure and the future of the human race. As an Atheist, I dream of a future where we don't have bigots like yourself running around.
@LyinglyLame "God exists, my imagination tells me so!"
"Imagine there's no heaven....it's easy if you try!"
"Nothing to kill or die for...and no religion too."
It's actually better for the imagination to be an Atheist.
So I am right! The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy really do exist! Thank you Lamb!
Your a slum lord of essence in ungodly wordage uses meant to dehumanize any and all who dare believe in a world where God exists and all our deceased loved ones do abound! Your dreaminess desires to lay waste something you dare deny thru verbalized insults tells me you are an insolent child of bitterness sakes!
No, you are not sure. Just as I am not "sure" a god doesn't exist. I chose to not believe in one because after reading the Bible (yes I grew up in a very religious family) I personally decided it held no value for me. But that doesn't prove a god doesn't exist. Just as you or anyone else cannot prove one does....PERIOD. As far as Atheists having no desire, dreams or imagination.....really? I am about the most creative person I know. As a matter of fact just 2 short years ago I totally "recreated" myself and my career after it was outsourced. Hard work, lots of imagination and desire and one big fat dream. Today, 2 years later I am making almost double my old salary, love my job, am "creative" every minute of the day and I am my own boss. So please stop going around thinking you know it all because from the sound of it there's very little you do know.
Lionlamb you shouldn't be talking because you are doing the same thing to Atheists and all others that don't believe in your God.
Teach your children well their father's hell and maybe the runts of mankind's litters will find their end games means!
Is that from Lord of the Rings?
New York Born,
Please read this somewhat winded post and then maybe we can both see each other's sightedness ways,
The Universally-Formed Multiple Cosmos of the Living Triune Cosmological Manifestation of Being
We all live amid two chasms of cosmological orders. We have the inner-cosmos and the outer-cosmos. The inner-cosmos is atomically made and is the universal construct of the outer-cosmos. One could not have an outer cosmos without there being an inner cosmos. Both are synonymously of the same natures. It stands to reason the inner-cosmos was made first and the outer-cosmos came into being only after the passive finalization of the inner-cosmos was made near complete. The inner-cosmos is transcendent and fixed while the outer-cosmos is ascendant and malleable in their dualities natures.
The third cosmos is of life itself made from the inner-cosmos living upon the terrestrial planetary faces of the celestial outer-cosmos. This third cosmos is the celled cosmos or the cellular cosmologic orders duly ordained of and by and even for all life forms to be made anywhere cellular life can gain a foothold to evolve and gain in the abundant natures toward the evolution of its structures ever evolving in base pairings. Without the two main Cosmos coming into existence; living cellular cosmologies could not ever exist.
The trinity or threefold nature of chasm cosmologies is being one of the greatest and grandest gestures ever to have been formulated! To say God had nothing to do with such a feat of cosmologic inter-dependencies seems an infallible congruency inconsistent for one to say or think otherwise. To say the nature of God is to keep inflating the physical elements of the outer cosmos while deflating the essence needs for the inner-cosmos leaves one to wonder about the third cosmological construct’s real nature for having been created. Why then is there cellular cosmos of living cosmologies and when did such life become established?
The history of multifaceted cosmological expansionism within celestial symmetries comes from the terrestrial complacencies of planetary regularities and solarized objectivism wherever the abundance of inner cosmologies coalesces to form stars, planets and moons among many other fragmented structures within the spatial confines of a universally formed Cosmos.
Life, upon the celestial shorelines of the terrestrially compliant are as a biologic ‘cellularistic’ cosmological constant, and were ever formed and are continually forming seemingly unto forever as well placed living conglomerations in naturalisms arcades of wondrous cavalcades marching in steps of melancholy tributes to God upon the most high cosmos of universally formidable formations on the highest of unimaginable grounds!
Don't throw your pearls before the swine for they will trample them underfoot......many are called but few are chosen.God bless you lionlylamb and keep te faith.
Your lambchops ar falling on deaf ears. That is all a waste of time.
god fu%$%@# dammit!
Lamby, I can picture you being the next one that goes berserk and starts killing people.
Your kindhearted words of lavish meanings are well received.
yeah the whole "GOD'S WILL" nonsense really got to me. I'm sure if a God existed, he would not want 6-7 year old childeren murdered in cold blood. C'mon people -_-
Have you not read that this world is not God's kingdom domains? It is a truth stated in the Gospels!
Nobody should use "Because God isn't in schools" excuse any more. That is like saying this wouldn't have happened if God was there. Well that is wrong. Look at our history or any others countries history and you will see individuals attacking schools that taught God.
It's no fun if we don't get to blame the atheists!
What Huckabee was trying to argue was that when we take God out of public schools we stop teaching morality effectively, and that is what leads to the lack of conscience, or understanding right from wrong in people like Adam Lanza.
Unfortunately for Mr. Huckabee, that argument is rather undermined by the fact that Lanza was home schooled.
We seem to glorify violence in movies, television and music, it's no wonder young impressionable and disturbed teens and adults
are acting out in this way. So sad!
A men brother,you said all I have been thinking in this article.
But, george zimmerman says it was gods will, and everybody seems to agree. Personally, I'll defend myself against a maniac and his god till I'm the last one left standing.
I believe in God. I look around and I know earth and its living beings didnt just pop out of thin air without order from a higher source. God didnt intend for this world to be evil. We have always had free will to make our own choices. Even in a perfect heaven, Eve had the choice to eat of the forbidden fruit or not. What credit could a God give himself in knowing all that obey and follow him is because he controls them. We have free will and freedom to choose our own path. To worship God, follow the devil or not to believe at all. The Ct shooting was NOT an act of God, Nor was it in Gods will, Nor was it the childrens time to go. The devil used Adam Lanza. The same way God uses people ina positive way. Yes God could have easily stopped it. Then all the non believers would believe there is a GOD after all. But he is a fair God, and he will let us all continue to choose and have our own beliefs until his second coming. Our simple minds cant and will never be able to understand why what or how. Its not our Job to understand. God only cares about your heart and that you choose to believe in him even when you dont have all the answers.
The children who were brutally murder are resting in God. Their flesh will go back into earth but the childrens souls are breaths of God and have gone back to their maker until his second coming and everyone will be judged accordingly. On that day God will show his infinite mercy and power. He will put an end to all evil. I choose to live a life for christ, to believe in Christ not to EARN my way to heaven but because I know he is the reason I am here and I owe it to him to believe in him even when things dont go my way or when the world is destroying itself. I rather believe and find out HE isnt real, then to not believe and find out HE exist and its too late.
We are our own GOD.
Sounds like your god has Down's syndrome.
Apparently downs syndrome is a requirement to be a christian.
Boy, what a nonsense. Clear case of long term brain washing.
For thousands of years humans have been asserting nonsense, just as this. There is not a shred of evidence for any souls or gods. You made it all up. You need to explain and comfort yourself. It's about your childish Psychology, not anything else. There is as much evidence for Pink Unicorns. You NEED to explain a world you see around you. In light of the fact that you have very little science knowledge, you make up gods. Just as all your millions of ancestors. You are in good company. The deluded.
Another ignorant post. For you to take the high road, to assume that you have to believe in God so that if you're right you win, is a stupid and irrational viewpoint. Christianity doesn't teach you to believe with fingers crossed behind your back. Did we come out of of "thin air" as you describe? Of course not...we evolved just like every natural behind evolved on this planet. To put a human perspective with a goofy story is silly. Do yourself a favor, see things as they are, not as you were taught when your brain was soft enough as a child to believe anything. Remember, when you do see God for the first time upon death, ask Him/Her/It who they are...are they Allah, God, Jesus, Moses, Zeus, Darth Vader, etc....in the end, people put stories on things they can't understand. I get it....why can't you?
I agree with this statement/point of understanding. God and his son Jesus are weeping and mourning along with us!
For all you non believers, what do you believe in? what is you explanation for what our purpose is? I dont know what its like to not believe in God, so I am asking an honest question, what does your science explain about everything happening or that has happened?
on another note there is no need to reference Down syndrome on this post for seeing as though it is disrespectful. I wasnt being rude to anyones beliefs, I am simply stating mine as you are as well.
Just kidding...122112 is actually International Rush Day!!!
Show me church goer and I'll show you a hypocrite but all is forgiven next Sunday .
You can choose to believe we all evovled. I dont believe that. Why havent we evovled into another species? or this is our final evolution stage? Just because we resemble monkeys and a scientist and or a man tells me I came from a monkey does that makje it true? I choose to believe what I believe not because it is comforting or because I am brain washed. I believe because I see God because He is the truth. I am Christian but I dont have all the answers, I dont have scientific evidence and or stats. If man alone was powerful enough to create, evovle and exist, then man alone could fix this world and why hasnt it?
God give us a will to believe in something.. You cannot believe in nothing it is hopeless.. Some BELIEVE their is no God that is what some believe.. God made us that way to believe.. You CANNOT believe in nothing because God MADE you that way... So believe what you WILL..
DessertDog- So are you not a hypocrite because you dont go to church? Hypocrites come in all forms shapes and sizes. Just because I go to church, on Saturdays by the way, doesnt make me perfect and or higher than anyone. I am no more of a hypocrite than the man sitting next me.
Oh for crying out loud evolution doesn't work that way.
It basically takes aeons to notice any change between species.
Please read a proper college grade biology book.
You didn't come from a monkey but you are related to one. The same way a moose is related to an elk or a mule deer to a white tail.
I believe in God but decided a long time ago I would do my reflecting in the peace of nature.
I dont care how evolution works. Evolution is not something I believe in regardless of what my college biology book may say. Thanks anyways.
I can not stand it when people say these things. Thank you
Excellent Article. Semi-automatic assault rifles have no place in civilized society.
agreed! I love to hunt but do just fine with a bolt action rifle. Of all my years hunting I,ve never seen anyone use these "assault rifles". The only time I've seen them used is by kids shooting at frisbees. That being said firearms of all kind need to be respected and kept out of the hands of those that will do harm to others.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.