Twenty children, six educators, a mother, and a gunman dead in Newtown, CT. Across the United States there has been an outpouring of grief. At our congregation’s inner-city school, with 230 children from infants to 8th grade, the tragedy has struck very close to home. We have been reflecting on all our lock-down drills and how very real those drills could become one day.
Two nights ago we heard the reaction of the President of the United States: “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.” But what does that mean? The words are powerful and emotional, and in a moment of passion we agree with them. But reason wants to dig deeper. What is it, precisely, that we are being asked to tolerate no longer? What tragedies are we hoping to end? “Must” is a strong word, implying the need for immediate action. What action, exactly, and what guarantee that that action will produce the desired – required – result? Our President does love the word “change” – but change is a notoriously slippery word. A change of degree, or a change of kind?
Engineers often quote the proverb, “identifying the problem is 90% of the solution.” So what is the problem? 27 people are dead, many of them young children who should have been allowed to grow up, marry, have children of their own, and die when they’re “too old to die young.” The tragedy is that this natural state of affairs was curtailed by a gunman for reasons we have not yet fully ascertained. Is this, in fact, the tragedy? Is this what we can no longer tolerate? Who has determined that the deaths of these children was premature, or that the progression of these children’s lives which I just described is, in fact, a “natural state of affairs?”
You do believe in evolution, don’t you?
After all, to deny the dominate meta-narrative of our western world would make you look rather foolish wouldn’t it? It would make you look like one of those backward hicks who cling to their religion and their guns, the very people who cause these sorts of tragedies. The tragedies which must end, which we can no longer tolerate.
Yet the dirty secret of the evolutionary meta-narrative is that what happened to those beautiful young children in Connecticut was utterly natural. After all, wasn’t the gunman a human being, a product himself of millions of years of evolution? To say what he did was “unnatural” implies that he was some sort of supernatural being – a being outside of nature. Which of course implies that nature managed to produce something that transcended itself. But the modern western meta-narrative implicitly denies that anything outside nature exists.
We can’t even allow ourselves the fiction that what he did was “wrong.” Wrong based on what standard? Wrong because it causes us pain? Pain is good for us! Pain drives the evolution of our species and countless others forward. Without death, there can be no progress. Richard Dawkins, the modern Nietzsche willing to stare down the Cerberus standing between us and our ultimate destiny, has put it plainly:
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so… In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. (“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, 1995)
Thank the Lord I am a Christian. I believe that suffering and death are not natural, because God has revealed to me in His Word that this is the case. Suffering and death are the result of the moral failure of the first two human beings, goaded on by a spiritual being himself twisted by his own moral failure. I can name the acts of the gunman in Newtown evil, because I have an objective, ultimate standard of good, revealed by my Lord God. Children should not merely be allowed to grow old and die gracefully; children were never meant to die at all. The naturalistic materialist cannot speak words like “evil,” “senseless,” or “tragedy” without denying their own presuppositions about the origin of the universe and of life itself. Of course as a Christian I know why countless atheists and agnostics act morally anyway. That’s revealed to me in Romans 2:14-15. But they are being irrational and inconsistent. I am not.
Dr. William Weinrich wrote this recently on Facebook:
One cannot say that the view of many that the universe is essentially senseless and meaningless, that is without God, caused the massacre of innocents yesterday. But one can say that those who hold that view must say that what happened was not an aberration. When the universe is senseless at its core, then senselessness is normal. To say merely that this murderer was deranged, or some such, is merely to say that that was the manner in his senseless manifested itself. But deranged precisely from what?
The elimination of the religion of naturalistic materialism from our schools will not prevent these tragedies anymore than gun control would. But both would help, at least in this way. It would deny to some few tempted by their sinful nature and by Satan a justification for carrying out their acts. It would create an environment where evil is not eliminated, but where it will have to work harder to accomplish its ends. It would help foster a culture of life, where now we truly have only a culture of death.
On the same day that this tragedy occurred in Connecticut, 22 children were stabbed in an attack at a Chinese elementary school. On the same day, hundreds of children under five died from malaria in Africa. On the same day, close to a hundred people were killed in Syria. On the same day, countless children died while still in their mother’s wombs. If you will not tolerate this anymore, if you believe these tragedies must end, there is only one to turn to. It is not Congress. It is Christ Jesus. Only the child born of Mary can deliver us from Satan’s Court, and bring the real change that will end evil once and for all.