Theodicean irony

Reader S Mark sent me this screen capture from last night’s NBC Nightly News with Kate Snow (Mark clearly added the circle!). No commentary is needed.

65 Comments

  1. YF
    Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Why all the sadness? We should rejoice as the souls of the faithful victims are now all with God in heaven for eternity.

    • dph
      Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      There are intelligent criticisms of Christianity. This is not one of them. In fact it is particularly stupid. There is nothing in Christianity that teaches we should be joyful when believers die. When faced with the death of a beloved friend, Jesus himself didn’t rejoice, he wept.(John 11:35)

      • David Coxill
        Posted November 6, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Is that where the phrase jesus wept comes from?

        • busterggi
          Posted November 6, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          Yep, Jesus wept and then brought his friend back from the dead, fuck the rest of us.

      • darrelle
        Posted November 6, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        I wouldn’t claim it is particularly intelligent, but it is not stupid. It points out a central stupidity in Xianity, of which there are many. That people can make contradictory claims, believe contradictory things at the same time and even behave in contradictory ways does not support your contention but rather opposes it.

        Also, priests and their ilk tell mourners that they should rejoice that their recently deceased love ones are with god all the time. You might want to have a chat with them about that, going against the official teachings and all.

        • dph
          Posted November 6, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          I suspect (having much experience) that, on the whole (it is a big world, there are always outliers) you are wrong. The priests and their “ilk” (I hate that word no matter how it’s used, which is typically as a cheap insult) do not begin and end their consoling of the living with “rejoice your loved one is with god all the time.” Every example I’ve witnessed may have included that component, but it always also included that it is natural and proper and not contradictory to grieve. After all, even if you believe they are with god, we who are still breathing miss them horribly.

          So no, it doesn’t point out a central stupidity of Christianity, even if there are some. In spite of your assertion, it is not stupid to grieve lost loved ones even if you believe they are with god. It is in fact stupid to claim that Christians should not grieve for lost loved ones.

          • darrelle
            Posted November 6, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

            Who is asserting that it’s stupid for Christians to grieve lost ones? I don’t think you quite understand the point of YF’s snarky comment.

            • dph
              Posted November 6, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

              Seriously? I am willing to acknowledge that I missed the boat, so please explain how YF’s snark is not equivalent to “why are Christians crying, after all those killed are in heaven! They should be happy, yay!”

              • murali
                Posted November 6, 2017 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

                dph, I think you are right.

                The way I understand it ‘why are Christians crying, after all those killed are in heaven! They should be happy, yay!’ is the point of the comment? 🙂

                I think it is meant in a derisive and provocative sense. It is like calling someone stupid. The comment itself is not all that conducive to sophisticated analysis.

              • murali
                Posted November 6, 2017 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

                Corrected:

                dph, I think you are right.

                The way I understand it ‘why are Christians crying, after all those killed are in heaven! They should be happy, yay!’ is the point of the comment 🙂

                I think it is meant in a derisive and provocative sense. It is like calling someone stupid. The comment itself is not all that conducive to sophisticated analysis.

          • Alan Clark
            Posted November 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

            So if someone with no living relatives or friends is murdered, you would not be pleased that he is in heaven because there is nothing in the Bible that allows you to be pleased?

            • dph
              Posted November 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

              Oh brother. You actually deduced that from what I wrote?

      • steve oberski
        Posted November 6, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        Philippians 1

        21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

        Psalm 116:15

        Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

        2 Corinthians 5:8

        Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

        • dph
          Posted November 6, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

          That is (mostly) Paul arguing that it is better in the next life than in the present. A fact that is, from a Christian perspective, beyond refute. It’s not even Christianity 101, but pre-school Christianity. It might be the one and only tenant of Christianity with which all Christians agree. It says nothing, however, about the issue of whether Christians should grieve over dead loved ones. There is no teaching to the contrary and many examples (again, including that of Jesus) that condone grieving.

          • steve oberski
            Posted November 6, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            If “it is better in the next life than in the present” then should we not “rejoice as the souls of the faithful victims are now all with God in heaven for eternity” ?

            Why all the sadness?

            But seriously, one can take any position imaginable on any aspect of the human condition and find passages both for and against that position in the big book of bad ideas.

            Not to single out the xtian compendium of bronze age snuff porn, but at around 800,000 words it’s a far richer source of random ideas than the Koran (80,000) or the Vedas (80,000).

          • steve oberski
            Posted November 6, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

            “When those saints of First Baptist Church were murdered yesterday, God wasn’t ignoring their prayers. He was answering them.”

            Hans Fiene, a Lutheran pastor from Illinois

            “So I’m trying to look at some positives here and know that those people are with the Lord now and experiencing eternity and no more suffering, no more sadness anymore.”

            Fox News Channel host Ainsley Earhardt

            • dph
              Posted November 6, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

              Looking at the positives is not exclusive of grieving. It is complementary. Is this not obvious?

              Perhaps I missed that part of the bible that said “When Herod ordered the execution of all the male children in Bethlehem the faithful rejoiced, because all their toddler sons were now with God.”

              • steve oberski
                Posted November 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

                See above where I pointed out that you can use your book to prove anything.

            • claudia baker
              Posted November 6, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

              Oh my fucking god, what lunacy is this? Right up there with the 72 virgin bullshit.
              I’m pretty sure those little girls who got shot yesterday would have liked to stay around a little longer. Such disgusting comments by a pastor and Fox news host. Makes me sick.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 7, 2017 at 2:40 am | Permalink

      Isn’t that what religions are in origin? Baby comforters for the fear of death and the knowledge of their own mortality or that of others. People invent eternal life fantasies as coping mechanisms, but when faced with the reality of it, religious people are probably intrinsically more susceptible to these fears. That’s what makes them religious in the first place.

      Not surprising that they are sad about it. Probably what they fear most.

  2. Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    And what’s more, I was amazed to hear the reporter on NPR this morning describe this little Texas town as “the last place on earth” where you would expect such a horrible scene to unfold. WHAT?

    Seriously? Aren’t we forgetting about all those thousands and thousands of places on earth where nobody owns a semi-automatic rifle because they’re illegal?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 6, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      By last place on earth they mean Texas, the known earth. There was this guy who lived right in the middle of Texas and was asked, why do you live here? He said he had been all the way west in Texas and he had been all the way east in Texas but thought it was just fine where he was.

  3. Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Speaking of irony. I watched the police and press response to this event on MSNBC from the start. One of the first people interviewed on the scene was asked by a reporter: “Were any of your friends or family members killed today?” “No,” the woman gleefully responded. “Gawd intervened and my family and friends attended the other church in town. Thank Gawd!”

    • Geoff Toscano
      Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Wow, that God’s such a great guy!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 6, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      That God must’ve really hated those other families. Praise be.

    • Posted November 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      The Baptists are particularly fond of saying that tragedies and calamities are their god’s judgement upon evil people, cities and countries. I guess god was really pissed at this particular group of Baptists.

      • Kevin
        Posted November 7, 2017 at 2:47 am | Permalink

        There was a spoof on Robinson Crusoe. He was asked why on his little island he built two churches. He replied, “That one there is the one I don’t go to”.

        • Kevin
          Posted November 7, 2017 at 2:50 am | Permalink

          Sorry posted in the wrong place

    • Kevin
      Posted November 7, 2017 at 2:49 am | Permalink

      There was a spoof on Robinson Crusoe. He was asked why on his little island he built two churches. He replied, “That one there is the one I don’t go to”.

  4. Geoff Toscano
    Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Apparently Hemant Mehta across at Friendly Atheist is to blame

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/11/06/the-activist-mommy-is-trying-to-blame-me-for-the-texas-church-shooting/

    • Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      I’d have had more sympathy for Hemant Mehta if he hadn’t jumped the gun (so to speak) by blaming this on Christianity.

      This looks very much like a spree killing that started out as a domestic dispute. Gloating because it’s (mainly white) Christians in a church isn’t an appropriate, especially now the press has zeroed in on his social media connections to atheism.

      • barn owl
        Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        The killer had sent threatening texts to his mother-in-law, who sometimes attended the church in Sutherland Springs. He had a history of domestic violence (that’s what the court-martial, imprisonment, and bad conduct discharge were for) and animal abuse. From WaPo:

        “On Aug. 1, 2014, sheriff’s deputies responded to a call of a man who was punching a dog, police records show. Four witnesses told deputies that they saw a man matching Kelley’s description yelling at and chasing a white and brown Husky.

        “The suspect then started beating on the dog with both fists, punching it in the head and chest,” a deputy wrote in the incident report. “He could hear the suspect yelling at the dog and while he was striking it, the dog was yelping and whining. The suspect then picked up the dog by the neck into the air and threw it onto the ground and then drug him away to lot 60.”

        Kelley was charged with animal cruelty and the dog was transferred to the Humane Society for a full medical evaluation.”

        Breitbart, Fox News, and all the MAGA crowd just can’t accept that yet another chronically violent, schlubby, potato-faced white male has committed an atrocity against innocents, simply because they were “angry” or someone insulted them or looked at them cross-eyed at the breakfast table. So they’ll make it out to be an atheist, a convert to Islam, mental illness, government conspiracy, etc.

  5. steve oberski
    Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Strange that all those thoughts and prayers after the last mass shooting did nothing to avert this one.

    • busterggi
      Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Pray more, think less!

      • Mark R.
        Posted November 6, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        Even stranger is that these people were probably praying before being murdered. If I believed in g*d I’d have to admit it’s a real asshole.

  6. Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Prof. Coyne’s post on Weinstein and free will apply to this poor sod as well.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 6, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Actor Wil Wheaton had a tweet about this, mostly expressing outrage at politicians who do nothing about gun control offering prayers.

    There used to a sign in some bars across America:
    In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash

    How about:
    In God We Trust, All Others Check Their Guns at the Door

    • Jeff Rankin
      Posted November 6, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Yeah, “actor” Will Wheaton tweets about it. Amusing, the lack of self-awareness.

      Shut up, Wesley.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted November 6, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        Wil Wheaton is not to blame for the way his character was poorly written in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. He was terrific in “Stand By Me”.

        I tend to think there are three type of actors-
        a) always good
        b) always bad
        c) good when in good material with a good director, but faltering in weak material or a weak director.

        WW seems to me to have been in the last category, at least in his younger years.

        His current work in independent films is well regarded.

        • Jeff Rankin
          Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          He was good in Stand By Me. And yes, horribly written in ST:TNG for the most part.

          Generally a bad actor from what I’ve seen, but I haven’t caught much of his latest work.

          An even worse regressive leftist, virtue signaler, and SJW. But the guy’s gotta work, and if you’re working in LA more nuanced perspectives are impossible.

          • Paul S
            Posted November 6, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

            “regressive leftist, virtue signaler, and SJW”
            Really? I don’t know much about him so I scanned his blog. Didn’t see any overt SJWness.

          • JonLynnHarvey
            Posted November 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

            Actually, Susan Sarandon is more nuanced SJW than many others in Hollywood.

      • Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        How’s your acting ability? What hit TV shows and films might I have seen you in?

        I find your lack of self awareness amusing. However, it concerns me the acting ability is the new metric of intelligent discourse.

        • Jeff Rankin
          Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          Wow, touché. Although, in my defense, I’ll have you know that my portrayal of Jacob Marley in Parkwood Elementary’s production of “A Christmas Carol” was well-received and quite the hot topic around the household.

          And that wasn’t the aspect of lacking self-awareness to which I was referring.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 6, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    La mort de l’ironie.

    We’ve entered the Post-Ironic Age; we truly have. No way can an ironist keep pace with reality nowadays.

    • Posted November 6, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      The Transcendent Ironic Age. If people can still maintain their faith looking at that bumper sticker, thinking upon this tragic episode, then they have made a decision to temporarily ignore reason.

      This is an example of how religion can be such a powerful mechanism to hijack critical thinking skills.

  9. murali
    Posted November 6, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    This is so stupid. We learn from Greg Abbott that ‘There’s one thing we need to take away from this and that’s evil exists in the world.’ Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!

    He did comment about how the shooter had been refused a license. That was a more useful — certainly more useful than the silly comment about the existence of evil.

    • S Mark
      Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      What’s worse is when Abbott said this:

      America must “come together under one God to purge evil and to rely upon the love that God provides.”

  10. Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    If only Eve had resisted eating that apple, none of this would have happened.

    • busterggi
      Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      If only some asshole hadn’t given the snake the ability to talk.

  11. Posted November 6, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was on Fox News yesterday offering his suggestion for how to prevent future mass shootings in churches: More people should just bring guns to church.
    …seems not everyone is willing to trust god.
    As has been pointed out to the guy (Paxton) how do the police know who is shooting when everyone is waving guns around.
    The black humour was kicking at this point so i gave up thinking about it.

    • Posted November 6, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      “Tuez les tous Dieu reconnaîtra les siens”

    • Mark
      Posted November 7, 2017 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      “More people should just bring guns to church.”

      Similar to what Archie Bunker suggested to prevent airline hijackings:

      • Posted November 7, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        The response to and investigation of the triple murder at WalMart in Thorton, Colorado was confounded by the fact that several shoppers pulled their weapons after the shooting began. None of these pistol-packing citizens took out the shooter, and only added to the confusion of the moment.

  12. Posted November 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    From Tapestry:

    Now, Smackwater Jack,
    He bought a shotgun
    ‘Cause he was in the mood
    For a little confrontation
    He just a-let it all hang loose;
    He didn’t think about the noose
    He couldn’t take no more abuse
    So he shot down the congregation
    You can’t talk to a man
    With a shotgun in his hand

  13. Steve
    Posted November 6, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Long time reader and fellow atheist, first time poster.

    I agree–obviously–that the picture is ironic. But I do not think this is the appropriate time to point it out. I recognize there was a post yesterday appropriately recognizing the gravity and sadness of the situation. On a blog I generally have the utmost respect for–it seems like an insensitive post that has generated a fair bit of comments on how silly Christianity can be.

    • steve oberski
      Posted November 6, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      When would a good time to do this be ?

      This is the xtian rights chickens coming home to roost.

      Nobody has opposed sane gun laws in the USA more vociferously and adamantly than these very people.

      Every time these idiots inject thier disgusting bronze age tribal morality into the formation of public policy, be it gun control, sex education, birth control, abortion rights, equal rights for women and homosexuals, climate change, immigration policy, etc, ad nauseum, bad thing happen to real people.

      This is exactly the best time to point this out.

      • Steve
        Posted November 6, 2017 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

        There are numerous times to discuss theism v. atheism that aren’t directly in the setting of children being murdered.

        We can all go around and laugh about how silly theism is. And laugh more about the irony of the photo. And make comments about how death should be joyful given their beliefs of heaven. But that’s just a bunch of atheists patting each other on the back and laughing a bit and does nothing for thoughtful discourse.

        I have no data to back this up=-but I would guess that pointing out the irony of the photo to an actual Christian would be counterproductive. Rare, or completely non-existent, would be the Christian who suddenly converts to atheism. Therefore, I suspect this is not the “best time” to point this out as you suggest.

        • steve oberski
          Posted November 7, 2017 at 7:18 am | Permalink

          When would a good time to do this be ?

          Who says this is all about xtians. I for one do not care what they believe in private, if only they woud do so.

          Thier ideas are not based on reason and evidence and they do demonstrable harm to our society.

          This needs to be pointed out as loudly and publicly as possible and this is a perfect occasion to do so.

          Similar to Islamic based idiocy in Muslim majority theocratic societies, the major victims of religious ideology are other religious people, for example the poor deluded xtians in that Texan church.

        • darrelle
          Posted November 7, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

          And thoughtful discourse is the only worthy kind?

          Thoughtful discourse is going to persuade Christians to change their minds? It is noticeably more effective than other types of discourse? We all know that sounds good. We all know that sounds like the moral high ground. We all know it is very appealing to think it is so. But show me the evidence that thoughtful discourse is more effective than unapologetic refutation or even ridicule. No anecdotes or “it’s obvious” please. This has already been argued ad nauseam so it is already known that there is no good evidence to suppose that thoughtful discourse is the most effective way of changing religious believers’ minds about their religious based beliefs. What you are doing amounts to nothing more than “tut tutting” others for behavior you feel is impolite. Fine, as far as that goes, but that’s as far as it goes.

        • eric
          Posted November 7, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          I don’t see this as a theism vs. atheism moment. I see it as an indictment of police chiefs and politicians who commit taxpayer resources to their own virtue signaling. The irony here, then, is not that God didn’t save these people. The irony is that the police force spent taxpayer resources on bumper stickers, and look how effective those stickers turned out to be?

  14. Diane G.
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    sub

  15. murali
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    ‘But that’s just a bunch of atheists patting each other on the back and laughing a bit and does nothing for thoughtful discourse.’

    The fundamental issue here is a very common one. The post ridicules an idea, it has provoked more ridicule, and some people find that insensitive, untimely, offensive. This is inevitable when you push the boundaries of ridicule as a device.

    I think the problem with this country is that its people are really really bad at praying. A graph in a recent post suggested that people are giving up. Instead of becoming less religious, they should become even more religious and practice praying until they get it right. Be part of God’s plan.

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted November 7, 2017 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      There is nothing wrong with ridiculing ridiculous ideas; at any time. If having your ideas ridiculed makes you feel upset, at least we aren’t judging you for who you love or the colour of your skin. You realise you are proselytising to an audience, most of whom are atheists?

      Have you not noticed that it is never the right time to discuss doing something about gun control in the light of all these mass murders? Too insensitive to the victims. When will be the right time? Perhaps in a year or so? How many mass murders happen in a year these days? That timer is going to be reset so frequently, we’ll never get to have the discussion, let alone do something about it.

      Coincidence? I think not.

      • murali
        Posted November 7, 2017 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

        JohnnieCanuck,

        ‘There is nothing wrong with ridiculing ridiculous ideas’

        🙂 I agree! In fact, I did not say that there was anything wrong in ridiculing ideas in my post above. I do it all the time 🙂

        ‘ If having your ideas ridiculed makes you feel upset, at least we aren’t judging you for who you love or the colour of your skin.’

        Your statement is vacuous in that the implicit premise is false.

        ‘You realise you are proselytising to an audience, most of whom are atheists?’

        In my last paragraph above, I was being sarcastic 🙂 So once again your statement is vacuous.

        By the way, I am not even an atheist. The whole idea of atheism is vacuous to me because the ideas of theism are so ill defined 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Have fun!


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