[..] For believers in various gods, there are prayers for the victims, prayers for the nation, and sometimes, recriminations. Christian leaders such as Pat Robertson are fond of blaming tragedies on various scapegoats, whether they be atheists, gays, or backsliding Christians. Pastors pore over their Bibles, and Imams their Korans. How, they wonder, does this fit into the will of a loving and yet apparently cruel god? One of the common answers is that there are too many people who don’t believe in gods. Too much godlessness, they shout from their pulpits, is why this kind of thing happens.
Of course, non-believers of all stripes see things a little differently. I set out to discover how non-theists are responding, and what sort of things they think about when tragedy strikes.
[..] From this atheist’s perspective, we also respond differently in several ways. We do not resort to prayers, or magic words, or studying ancient texts to find answers. We look up statistics. We compare American policies to other countries, and look for patterns. We try to find solutions ourselves, because we don’t believe this is part of any god’s will. We believe that any god who would include mass murder as part of a “loving” plan could not possibly know much about love. We grieve for the victims, and their families, and we wish that we could speak out at school, at work and at home, without being blamed, ridiculed, or shut out of the conversation.
Because we believe this is the only life we get, many of us become motivated to help change this world for the better. We believe the victims are dead, and that is that. It’s the worst kind of tragedy, and they are just gone. We do not look to heaven as a salve for the soul, nor to a god for some sort of purpose in this senselessness. We look to our minds and our hands for solutions. Today. On earth.