This was written in response to two editorials in the 4/22/99 Wall Street Journal. I will also email it to them, though I don't expect them to read it or print it.
"We do not need to return to morality, but to discover it.":Ayn Rand
Even as the bodies cool, the ritual begins anew. From the left:Ban the guns! Ban the internet! Ban something, anything, everything, just pass some laws. (And appoint my cousin to be in charge of some board or committee or something) And from the Right:If we had prayer in schools, this wouldn't have happened. Bring back God (you know, the same God in whose name tens of millions were murdered in the Crusades and tortured in the Inquisition) and we won't have any of this violence (except maybe against Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, and anyone else who worships the wrong God, or the right God in the wrong way).
A moral credo based on God is about the worst one imaginable, for one simple reason -- God doesn't exist. Tell someone that the only reason he shouldn't kill is because God told him not to, and this works only up until the instant he asks:So how do you KNOW there's a God? Where is He? Why won't He show Himself?
Imagine a bridge built not of reinforced steel, but of aluminum siding. If you are a skilled engineer, it might support its' own weight. It would look very pretty from a distance. But it will collapse when the first car passes over it.
A God-centered morality is that bridge. It looks fine, but it cannot bear the weight of the stress of modern life, because when it all comes down to cases, there is no God. You turn to Him for support, and he's not there for you -- because he doesn't exist. And if your only justification for being a good person is 'God told me to be', then you no longer have any reason to restrain your most base impulses, and you lash out without regard for the consequences.
The problem with our society is not a lack of God, but a surfeit of Him. We teach children there's a being of perfect love and justice who sees all, knows all, hears all -- then they grow up and realize it's a lie. Small wonder their moral base collapses, and they flail madly, searching for something to believe in -- because we've taught them to *believe*, rather than to *think*. To have *faith*, rather than *knowledge*.
Do you wish to prevent another Littleton? Stop lying to your children. Encourage them to be imaginative and creative, to play, to pretend, to make-believe, to know that what they can see is not all there can be in the world, but do not teach them that lies are truth and that black is white. Do not tell them there is a Santa Claus, or an Easter Bunny, or a Tooth Fairy, or a God, unless you make it clear to them that these are just things it is fun to *pretend* exist. Do not give them faith in bridges which will not bear their weight.