The shootings in Las Vegas has dominated the news this past week and people are having a difficult time getting their arms around this horrific event. The brutality and senselessness of it has left most of us bewildered, confused, and angry. And the reason why is that we recognize the great value of human life.
NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed Darrell Gibbs, the father of a shooting victim, in a Las Vegas hotel. He and relatives are staying in shifts by his daughter’s bedside. Gibbs works as a federal corrections counselor, meaning that he advises inmates as they leave a Texas prison.
Inskeep questions Gibbs on how he first heard the news, his daughter’s injuries and expected recovery, and finally, why this has happened.
INSKEEP: You don’t blame the gun for this.
GIBBS: Absolutely not.
INSKEEP: You blame the person.
GIBBS: Of course.
INSKEEP: What do you think is causing these mass shootings?
GIBBS: A godless society.
Though I am sure there were those who sneered at this response, I believe it is a valid argument. If there is no God, then what is a human being? Are we more than a mass of chemicals that are here by chance? The famous Harvard psychologist B.F. Skinner, who was an atheist, said there is no reason to regard human beings as anything other than a product of nature. He believed there was no logical reason to treat mankind differently from any other animal. Think about how easily we slaughter thousands of cattle each day in a slaughterhouse. This seems to be how Stephen Paddock regarded all of the hundreds of people he shot at random.
I am reminded of the words of Jeffrey Dalmer, arguably one of the most evil serial killers to ever live, not only because he killed so many innocent victims but also because he cannibalized those he had murdered. Shortly before his death, he gave an interview from prison that was aired on ABC News. This is what he said.
When I was in high school, I found within myself the desire to torture animals. I did not believe in God, I did not believe we were here for a purpose … Given that I was not here for a purpose and I am going to die and that is the end of me, I could not find any sufficient reason to deny the satisfaction of my desires.
Then, he tells us that as he got older he eventually reached the point where torturing animals no longer satisfied him, saying “At that point, I decided I’ll torture human beings.” Based on his view of life and morality, he plainly admitted, “I could not think of a reason why I shouldn’t, given my view of reality.”
Now I’m not suggesting all atheists end up being serial killers, but it is obvious there was a real disconnect in Dahmer’s life, which stemmed from his godless worldview.
Probably the most famous and well-known atheist to ever live was the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He challenged his atheist friends that if they were going to give up belief in the Christian God, they would have to also give up Christian morality, particularly pity, compassion and the value of human beings.
Nietzsche would tell any atheist who felt for those who were shot in Las Vegas to quit being such wimps and whiners, that they should expect violence and suffering in the world. It is the law of nature, which is naturally violent.
I close this blog with a very sobering poem by Steve Turner that many call the “Atheist Creed.” It was written in the early 1990s but speaks powerfully to our modern culture:
We believe in Marx, Freud and Darwin.
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.
We believe in sex before during and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy is OK
We believe that taboos are taboo.
We believe that everything is getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated.
You can prove anything with evidence.
We believe there’s something in horoscopes,
UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha
Mohammed and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think
His good morals were bad.
We believe that all religions are basically the same,
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.
We believe that after death comes The Nothing
because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it’s compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Khan.
We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.
We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between
warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.
We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.
We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust. History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.
We believe in the rejection of creeds.
And the flowering of individual thought.
If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear
State of emergency!
Sniper kills ten!
Troops on rampage!
Whites go looting!
Bomb blasts school!
It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.
This seems to be where we are headed as a nation. I am reminded how God lays out the choice we have to make as we seek to live our lives and build our communities:
I call to heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20)