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An Atheist's Response to the Shootings in Oregon

By Ben Love ~

When it was announced that the shooter on the Oregon college campus specifically targeted Christians, a few people sent me messages saying, in effect, “See? Nonbelievers are monsters.”

As a (relatively obscure) spokesman for atheism and humanism, allow me to respond. First of all, while I will spend most of my life writing about and campaigning against the evils of religion in general and Christianity in particular, I have never, to the best of my knowledge, ever endorsed the hatred of believers as people. I hate the belief, yes. I freely admit that. But I do not hate the believers. I tire of them occasionally, yes. And at times I might wish I could deconvert all of them. But hate them? No. Wish them ill? No. Want them dead? No. Only a psychopath would want that, and at that point it matters little what such a person believes or disbelieves anyway, since psychopathy is a neurological problem, not a theological one.

I may be an atheist, but I am also a humanist. And as far as I know, Christians are humans (I hope you note the hint of humor here—for of course they are humans!). This means that I want the same respect, safety, security, peace, and prosperity for them that I would wish on any human. I may not believe in God, but I do believe in humanity—that is, I believe in me and in you. And I know I speak for many atheists who are also humanists. We believe in ourselves, and in you. We believe in people. We believe that our species can evolve, triumph, overcome, excel, progress, and move beyond this kind of rampant stupidity and evil. We may not always do it, and sometimes we even take steps backwards as a species, but I believe, and will go on believing, that we can better ourselves. Moreover, I believe we can find the power to do so by looking within, not by looking at some projection of a deity.

And so I denounce the shooter on the Oregon campus. He was a misled, misguided, confused, and erroneously-minded person who does not reflect the tenets of atheism or humanism.

One wonders what kind of public outcry there would be if the shooter had targeted only atheists. Would the Christian world be in an uproar over that? I wonder…

Besides, who could possibly tally up the number of humans who have died in the last 2,000 years under the banner of Jesus and Christianity? I bet that number is in the multiple millions…