Creationist Wisdom #982: Mass Shootings #2

Like the last entry in this series — #981: Mass Shootings — today’s letter-to-the-editor (it’s sort of a column) is about the same subject. It appears in the Los Angeles Times. Their headline is Mike Huckabee ties mass shootings to an absence of faith in God. Social science proves him wrong, and we don’t see a comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we have an exception. It’s Phil Zuckerman, and at the end of his column we’re told: “Phil Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College … .” Wowie — he’s a sociologist! We’ll give you a few excerpts from his column (they call it an Op-Ed), with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!

In the wake of yet another and another and another mass shooting in America — with at least 34 dead in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton — Mike Huckabee, the former governor turned pundit, repeated his go-to response: Gun violence in our country is all about waning belief in God.

If you don’t know who that is, Wikipedia has an article on Mike Huckabee. They say he’s a “Christian minister who served as the 44th governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He was a candidate in the United States Republican presidential primaries in both 2008 and 2016. … His daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, served 2 1/2 years as President Trump’s White House Press Secretary.” Okay, you know what we’re dealing with. The sociologist says:

As he piously proclaimed in a recent televised interview [link omitted]: “The common denominator in all of this is … disconnecting from God. … A lot of our country [is] utterly disconnected from any sense of identity with their creator.” Huckabee was even more explicit after the Sandy Hook mass shooting in 2012 that killed 26, including many young children. Such violence occurs, he said, because “we have systematically removed God from our schools.”

Egad — we’ve removed God from our schools! After that the sociologist tells us:

Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is far from alone in holding this view. After the latest mass shootings, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on “Fox and Friends” that if Americans don’t adequately praise God, the result will be continued carnage. So there you have it: Mass shootings in America are the direct result of people not having enough active faith in God.

Seems undeniable, right? But the sociologist doesn’t agree. He says:

The interesting thing about this hypothesis is that it is easy to test. You’ve got an independent variable (faith in God) and a dependent variable (gun violence). The hypothesis put forth by Huckabee and other Christian moralizers comes down to this: When a given society has a higher amount of faith in God, the rate of gun violence should be correspondingly lower. Conversely, the lower the amount of faith in God, the higher the rate of gun violence. But social science finds the exact opposite correlation. The facts show that strong faith in God does not diminish gun violence, nor does a lack of such faith increase gun violence.

Wowie — Huckabee is wrong! The sociologist continues:

Here’s one crystal-clear example: Faith in God is extremely high in the Philippines. One study found that the country “leads the world” in terms of its strength of faith in God, with 94% of people there saying they have always believed in God. Comparatively, the Czech Republic, is one of the most atheistic nations in the world, with only about 20% of Czechs believing in God. According to Huckabee’s hypothesis, violence and murder rates should be much worse in the Czech Republic and much better in the Philippines.

Okay, that’s the setup. Having built up your excitement, the sociologist tells us what his science reveals:

But the reality is different: The murder rate in the Philippines is nearly 10 times higher than it is in the Czech Republic [Gasp!], according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Shocking! No doubt, the creationists have a good response, but we’re not told what that is. Meanwhile, the sociologist piles it on:

This same correlation holds true for nearly every country in the world: Those with the strongest rates of belief in God — such as El Salvador, Columbia, Honduras, Jamaica, and Yemen — tend to experience the most violence, while those with the lowest rates — such as Japan, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, New Zealand and Australia — tend to experience the lowest levels of violence.

Skipping several paragraphs, we’re told:

People’s relationship with the divine doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with it. Huckabee’s hypothesis needs to be rejected not only because it is statistically incorrect, but because it’s also inhumane [Huh?]: By blaming mass shootings on a lack of God-worship, he is implicitly asserting that the many victims of gun violence, well, deserved it.

And now we’ll skip to the end:

Faith in God will do nothing to end the epidemic of mass shootings in America, save perhaps to serve as a balm for the souls of the many Americans forced to weep at funerals for victims of gun violence.

Your Curmudgeon is confused. We hear one thing from creationists, and now we hear the opposite from a sociologist. What do you think, dear reader?

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #982: Mass Shootings #2

  1. More important than the qualifications of a proponent of an argument is the evidence the proponent can adduce. We can ignore the fact that the person supporting the argument that religiosity and violent crime are positively correlated is a sociologist. Among the countries of the world, the least religious experience less violent crime. Among the states of the USA, the same correlation holds. Loss of belief in a god, any god, does not lead to mass shootings.

  2. Huckabee claims

    “we have systematically removed God from our schools.”

    Does he mean God was expelled for bad behaviour? Is God a High School dropout?!

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    My mother’s faith is waning in her old age, she probably would call it diest. One of her aides asked about her faith and was surprised at her agnosticism: “How can that be, you are such a good person!” As if she needed to be full-out Christian to be good.

  4. Michael Fugate

    Here are the stats from the US – linking morality with religion
    Notice the positive relationship….

    teen birth = -15.13372 + 0.5421988*%belief in god
    births per 1000 females <20

    unwed mothers% = 16.833182 + 0.3541165*%belief in god

    homicide rate = -10.09428 + 0.2493731*%belief in god
    The number of deaths per 100,000 total population

    unwed mothers% = 16.833182 + 0.3541165*%belief in god

  5. Michael Fugate

    It also has no effect on divorce or suicide rates – it is difficult to see what positive effect it is having…

    I wonder if this relationship means that they are relying on prayer instead?
    %uninsured = -2.643607 + 0.1713868*%belief in god

  6. Sorry dimwit but I read your books o’BS and your ahole psychotic gawd has no problem with mass murder for no good reason.

  7. @L. Long
    I am interested in any explanation for
    deliberate death of people – how that does does not also explain telling people less than the truth.

  8. “Is God a High School dropout?!”

    High school dropout?? Read the various bibles and you can only conclude that the gods therein did not even see a 4th grade education! Striped sticks cause any livestock born to be striped, the sun goes around the Earth – racing under the Earth to come up the next morning, the moon gives off its own light, viewing a brass snake cures snakebite, magic actually works, etc. The complete list of the various gods’ absurdities is nearly endless.

  9. What I think the most absurd aspect is the idea that a book compiled 2600 – 1900, so obviously the product of its time, place and culture, holds the eternal truth.

  10. The real question is, why does anyone take Huckabee’s claim seriously? I thnnk the US is the only devekoped country where his claims would not elicit ridicule from nonbelievers, and outrage and disgust from believers. Btw, he has form on creationism, too: And, as so often happens together, on climate change:

  11. @Paul Braterman
    The USA has restrictions on funding research on firearm safety. This makes it easy for people to make unfounded claims about firearm safety. I don’t know what the rationale presented, if any, is for the restrictions on funding.

  12. @PaulB: it’s even worse; our sociologist hasn’t presented all the relevant evidence. There are at least two secularized European countries that are far less restrictive on firearms than eg The Netherlands: Norway and Switzerland. Only 60 years they were like all Western-European countries as christian as the USA. The correlation is not so much with religion per se, but with the kind of toxic religion that includes creationism.
    But even that is problematic – I doubt if many Dutch creacrappers advocate NRA politics. Indeed I’ve met some American non-religious libertarians on internet who are completely convinced that lifting arms restrictions will result in a safer society.

  13. TomS says: “The USA has restrictions on funding research on firearm safety.”

    I never heard of that. Do you have any more info?

  14. See the “Dickey amendment” in Wikipedia.

  15. Mark Germano

    Some fun vandalism in the Wikipedia page TomS mentions:

    “The amendment is named after its author Jay Dickey, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas who, if the universe were just, would be suffering in hell for the rest of eternity.”

  16. The Dickey Ammendment ( “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”) was a response to the CDC’s biased “research” which was designed to promote gun control.

    “Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, President Barack Obama directed the CDC and other federal agencies to “conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it.”[12] The CDC responded by funding a research project[13] and conducting their own study in 2015.[14] That month, a spokeswoman for the agency, Courtney Lenard, told the Washington Post that “it is possible for us to conduct firearm-related research within the context of our efforts to address youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and suicide. But our resources are very limited.”-Wikipedia

    There are no restrictions on unbiased research but what expertise does the CDC have in criminology. Perhaps they should not stray so far from their specialty especially since “our resources are very limited.”