In the aftermath of the tragedy which occurred in Connecticut yesterday morning, I have heard calls from my Christian friends for a return to biblical morality and calls to put God back in our schools. As an ex-Christian and an atheist, I must respectfully but strongly disagree with my well-meaning friends.
Let dispense first with the idea that we need to put God back in our schools. The first problem with that notion is the fact that God has never been removed from our schools. Any student or faculty member can pray to any god they wish to on school property. Likewise, they are free to read any holy book they may desire to read. What is not allowed, and for good reason, is state-sponsored religion. Religion should also be banned from our science curriculum. Science classes should focus on established, peer-reviewed SCIENCE, and not on absurd religious myths put forth by ignorant religious fundamentalists who know little or nothing about science and how it works, including what the word “theory” means when used in the scientific world. I live in Alaska now, but I was born and raised in Texas. As much as I love that state, it is becoming more and more embarrassing to be from there. That is thanks in large part to the damage religious fundamentalists have done to the state’s educational system. Their attempts to get their religious myths taught as science and their attempts to rewrite history to favor their religion are both wrong and they both should be strongly opposed. The last time I checked, lying was a sin. I’m pretty sure that lying for Jesus qualifies as a sin too…
What about biblical morality? That may sound like a reasonable suggestion to most people in this country, but let’s take a hard and honest look at what the Bible actually teaches on the subject of morality.
We don’t have to look far in the Bible to find serious moral problems with the behavior of God himself. In the Book of Genesis, God’s solution to the problem of mankind’s evil behavior is mass murder in the form of the Flood. Putting aside the absurdity of the story and the total lack of evidence for its historicity, what does God’s act of mass murder say about the character of God himself? In later biblical books, God’s character is again repeatedly called into question as we read horrific accounts of God either ordering or directly committing mass murder and genocide. This same God also condones the killing of a man for working on the Sabbath simply because he picked up some sticks (Numbers 15:32-36). In the New Testament, he murders two people simply for lying to him (Acts 5). When was the last time you murdered someone simply because they lied to you? Well… according to the Bible, that is perfectly acceptable behavior!
The Bible condones and never once condemns in any way the concept of slavery. It is, in fact, perfectly acceptable not only to own slaves, but to beat them severely as long as you don’t kill them (Exodus 21:20-21).
The Bible recommends the practice of stoning disobedient children to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) and it defines the way to happiness as bashing the heads of children against rocks (Psalm 137:9).
The verses cited above just barely scratch the surface of the immoral and morally reprehensible behavior condoned in the Bible. So do we really need a return to biblical morality in this country? Obviously not!
There are no easy answers to the problems we have as a society that inevitably lead to violent tragedies. It’s easy to point to our violent games and television and movie entertainment and put at least some of the blame on them. And that has some validity, but it misses the point that we as a society must reject violence not only in our entertainment but out there in the real world where real people get hurt and die. It’s easy to say that we just need to return to faith in God and the morality taught in the Bible, but that clearly is not the case. Gun control laws are not the answer either since criminals and those who are violently mentally ill don’t care about gun laws. They will find ways to get the weapons they want, the laws of the land be damned. I don’t know what the correct answers are. I do know that we as a society MUST find workable answers to prevent future tragedies NOW.