“[O]ur hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.,” heart movingly said Barak Obama, not as a president of United State, but as a fellow parent to those who are affected by second worst U.S’s school shooting. He went further,
Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors, as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain.
I could not help but wept with Obama when he said,
The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.(Obama 2012: n.p)
Appropriately, Obama ended with “[m]ay God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.”
What If Obama Was New Atheist? What Would He Have Said?
Obama’s closing remark made me ponder, what if Obama was new atheist and not a Christians who believes as Fyodor Dostoevsky that “suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage”? What if Obama worldview was not as Dostoevsky put it,
In the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with men( Dostoevsky 1922: 247-8 )
What if Obama did not believe that we are living in a fallen world that is groaning, as in the pains of childbirth, until Christ returns to restore all things? What if he did not believe in final day where God will give an ultimate judgment?
What if Obama speech was like what Richard Dawkins believe, namely we live 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.”? Would he have told his fellow parents whom are affected by second worst U.S school shooting,
The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A. E Housman put it:
For nature, heartless, witless nature
Will neither care nor know
DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.(Dawkins 1995: 132-3)
Would Obama told them that Adam Lanza was simply dancing to his DNA’s music? What if Obama echoed Francis Crick words, namely,
You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons.(Crick 1994: 3)
I am not saying that Obama’s Christian faith is true because it gives hope and assurance in times of need, but that new atheism and atheism in general breaks down when it comes to things that we dearly care.
Our joy, love, sorrows, hopes and delights. Things that makes us humans.
My wife and I weep together with families fallen into this tragedies. I do not know why God permitted Adam Lanza to do so, but I know that everything “work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” and we grieve with hope, for we know that life does not end at the grave. Christ’s resurrection demonstrated that we will see them again.
We have hope because “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”(ESV Re. 21:3-4) That is how it ends. That is how it begins.
Behold, God will make all things new.
Crick, Francis (1994) The Astonishing Hypothesis – The Scientific Search for the Soul, London, Simon and Schuster.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor (1922). The Brothers Karamazou. New York: Macmillan
Obama, Barak (2012). Obama’s speech on December 14th 2012. Transcript: President Obama’s Remarks On Conn. School Shootings. White House
Dawkins, Richard (1995) River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. London