When atheist bloggers jumped on Pastor Rick Warren's back this past week following the Aurora theater shootings, it had little to do with him, but spoke volumes about the atheist worldview.
Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church and author of "The Purpose-Driven Life," tweeted a message on Friday after the Aurora shootings that said, "When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it."
Atheists, who naturally have all the Christian pastors on their subscribe list, were outraged.
Atheist Staks Rosch of The Examiner said, “The mega-church pastor of the Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, took to Twitter on Friday to express his thought about the recent shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. ... Warren blamed the shooting on the teaching of evolution in public science classes.”
Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist wasn't in a friendly mood: "Let’s hear those Warren-defending Christians explain this tripe that the pastor tweeted earlier today. … So, according to Rick Warren, pastor extraordinaire, teaching scientifically-sound evolution is the reason the shooter went into that theater. Tell me again why he deserves our respect?"
Because of the controversy, Warren removed the comment from Twitter but forgot to remove it from his Facebook page, which opened him up to another round from Rosch, who demanded that Warren apologize for suggesting that Darwinian teaching could have anything to do with the Aurora shooter: "Instead of issuing an apology to scientists, secularists, and atheists, Warren seems to be trying to pretend that it never happened by deleting the Tweet. ... He should issue a full apology through the media to actual people. Science education is a serious problem in this country and blaming this horrific attack on the teaching of evolution in science classes doesn’t help."
Dr. James F. McGrath, a New Testament Language and Literature professor, also criticized Warren at length, but he also responded to the Tweet, after which he received an email from Warren explaining the original Tweet.
In the message, Warren explained that Twitter's limit on words eliminates the possibility of context, "So when you Tweet what’s on your mind, people presume (incorrectly) that you are talking about what’s on THEIR mind."
The original Tweet, it turns out, had nothing to do with the shooting, but was a response to a question about sexual promiscuity from a father whose daughter's teacher had said that sex with multiple partners is natural.
Maybe the atheists and other critics owe Pastor Warren an apology.
It's pretty clear from this incident why they were so quick to assume that Warren was criticizing evolution. Although most atheists won't admit it, atheism is every bit as much a religion as Christianity or any of the "theisms" they like to rail against.
Since theirs is a mechanistic view of the universe, evolution is an article of faith to them. But it's also a worldview that has no ethical foundation of its own. Atheistic morality is either borrowed from the biblical or based on the consensus of the community.
At the heart of atheism is no sure ethical footing. As Richard Dawkins put it, the atheistic universe offers "no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference," and people are just biological machines with no responsibility for their actions.
What Pastor Warren Tweeted was not related to the Aurora shooting and was not directed at the teaching of evolution, but it could have been.
Teaching that the world is a cold, merciless, mechanical system -- and not allowing even the discussion of alternative views or traditional religious bases for ethical behavior --- has repercussions. One of them is the production of amoral youths who place no special value on human life.
Atheists have every right to their views, but if they are going to be quick to criticize other religions, they should be at least as quick to acknowledge the impact of those beliefs and accept responsibility for them.