April 17, 2013

Compassion for Boston Requires No God Belief

2013 Boston Marathon
2013 Boston Marathon (Photo credit: soniasu_)
It certainly did not take long for some Christians to blame the Boston bombing on atheists. I was surprised to see so many of Pat Robertson's core audience on Twitter. While some in the mainstream U.S. news media were obsessing about Al Qaeda and not bothering to consider the possibility of a domestic terrorist along the lines of Tim McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, or Jim Adkisson, a sizable group of Christians were blaming the tragedy on atheism, secularism, and "godlessness." While some have managed to convince themselves that the perpetrator(s) must have been an atheist, others prefer the argument that the bombing was divine punishment for the rising tide of secularism.

In spite of their bigotry, I cannot help feeling just a bit sorry for the sort of Christians who would make these outlandish claims. They are scared and confused and are trying to make sense out of their world in the only way they seem to know how - by clinging to the primitive superstitions in which they have been indoctrinated. And yet, I am well aware of the damage this sort of bigotry can produce. This leads me to suggest an alternative to the desperate attempts to reconcile a senseless tragedy with a loving god: perhaps there aren't any gods looking over us.

Freed from the mental gymnastics required to reconcile something that cannot be reconciled, one can devote one's energy to real-world efforts that might make a difference. We can set aside all the god nonsense, roll up our sleeves, and try to help those who need it. Compassion requires no god belief.

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