According to a commenter on Blogging Theology, violence is the fault of Godlessness. It’s a frequent comment and it pervades for two reasons: establishing crime statistics, motives and demographics is not easy, and the accusation seems to stick. The accusation probably sticks because it seems obvious. But obvious is not the same as true. This post is another shared comment, but it’s worth looking at briefly.
“… the majority of the people who do [school shootings] in the west are atheist”
I can’t seem to find any evidence this is true. In fact, to the contrary, an article on Patheos based on a Freedom of Information request finds the number of (self-identifying) atheists in prison is 0.07% of prison inmates . That is a massively under-represented demographic, compared to the number of atheists in the general American public (~20%).
Let’s look at school shootings in a bit more detail, shall we? If atheism is the cause of school shootings (or, positively correlates with school shootings) we should expect America to have fewer school shootings than other, more secular, Western countries. America has had 159 school shootings since 2000 . (That’s 0.49 school shootings per million people). The UK around 40% of people are atheist . But, with the doubling of the atheist population, do we see a doubling in rates of school shootings? No. If we lower the bar, to talk only of “attacks” (to compensate for British gun laws) we see there have been 5 attacks since 2000 [5, 6, 7]. That’s 0.08 per million, a lot lower. And the story is similar across Scandinavian countries. So, there’s no discernable relationship between atheism and school shootings (except, perhaps, a negative correlation). That’s true even if all the US school shooters were atheist (which, as I said, I can’t seem to find evidence for).
“… perhaps you should read more on what [21st Century Western Tyrants] considered ethical such as eugenics, nihilism and more.”
I’ve done reading on some of the tyrants of the Western world in the 21st Century, so perhaps you can direct me to exactly what you’re reading. Reading will elucidate that each of them, even if they are atheists, has an ideology that underpins what they did; it’s not because of atheism. My point is that there is no link between the fact these people are atheist and what they did. The only line you can actually draw is between their extreme, dogmatic beliefs and what they did. But, good luck drawing a line between what they actually believed and their atheism.
I think you’ve missed my point about ethics as a human discussion and evaluative process. What I’m saying is there is no reason to prefer ethics by fiat from a God over ethics by reasonable and pragmatic discussion from humanity. Even if you find the latter completely vacuous, that doesn’t lend any credibility to the former. Perhaps more importantly for deist or agnostic readers, but relevant to all religious, is how you would deal with a God that says murder is fine as an objective moral standard. Relying on God as a moral standard is a very pretty and reassuring argument when you think God agrees with you, but if you’re open to doubt you perhaps are also open to idea that a God doesn’t agree with you. If you think it’s impossible for a God to think that murder is ethically fine, or otherwise disagree with you, I put it to you that you are using something other than a God to define morality in the first place and then making a “God” conform.
Think properly about what you would think about a God who you disagree with.
“… you can’t come to conclusions about a group of people based on your experiences with some… I have Buddhist friends who do things for the interests of others rather than themselves, and Buddhists don’t believe in an afterlife so yeah I sense a hint of bitterness towards a concept of God you’ve grown up with, most probably one of the Abrahamic Gods”
Okay, there’s actually a lot here but it wasn’t easy to pull them all apart. But it’s worth keeping together because it shows something really interesting. I recommend reading the actual comment thread instead of just taking my word for this. It’s a common debating technique but I don’t think it’s intentional. This in no way relates to the content of the conversation we were having, doesn’t map onto what I was saying, and is wrong. Buddhists to believe in an afterlife. I’m not discussing self-interest or Abrahamic religion. I’m not making generalised conclusion based on a small sample, but the commenter is; just look at what they have to say about Buddhists. The comment is a mix of accusations and red herrings.