My point was that atheism has nothing to offer in the face of tragedy except C'est la vie. Deal with it. Get over it. This is why the ceremonies were suffused with religious rhetoric. Only the language of religion seems appropriate to the magnitude of tragedy. Only God seems to have the power to heal hearts in such circumstances. […] I'm not being facetious here. I really want to hear what the atheist would tell the grieving mothers.
He followed up that piece with this one, where he commented that:
One atheist wrote to say that rather than rely on idle promises of fantasies of life after death, what atheists would say is that we need gun control laws and a better health care system. Fair enough, but is this what you tell a crying mother? "Madam, you should feel much better because new gun control laws and mental health reforms are on their way."
Following D’Souza’s line of argumentation, one is led to this type of theistic response:
“Madam, you should feel much better because an eternal life with your dead loved one is on the way. It will begin as soon as you are also dead, leaving your remaining loved ones in the same agony which you are now experiencing.”
No one would say such a thing to a grieving person, but D’Souza—and other theists—offer little else besides platitudes like “your loved one is in a better place” and “god works in mysterious ways.” Sentiments such as this boil down to “I don’t know why god demanded that your loved one had to die—or why he refused (or was unable to) prevent it, but his ways are beyond our understanding.” At root, theists pretend that such meaningless tripe is freighted with ultimate meaning. They then, like D’Souza, pretend that atheists have nothing meaningful to say. To further disprove this thesis, I offer the following remarks:
Mapantsula responds to D’Souza as “an atheist professor at Virginia Tech and a man of great faith. Not faith in your god. Faith in my people:”
We can accept a description of this man as evil. We just don’t think that is an explanation. That is why we are exasperated at your mindless demonology. […]We don't believe these people have died for anything: God's plan, as a beacon to the rest of us, to be a vivid memento mori for all. We just believe they have died, brutally and without mercy. We refuse to lie to grieving mothers out of some patronising sense that a pleasant myth is more respectful than a terrible truth.
PZ Myers, as usual, minces no words:
God will do nothing. He did nothing during the killings, he will not be at the funeral, he won't come to parents weeping home alone. People will come together and cope, but those are wounds that will never really heal. There are no magic words that will make the loss of someone we cared about go away…
Daylight Atheist is fed up with theists’ misrepresentations:
Truly, I am sick and tired of being accused of lacking a belief in goodness and evil because I am an atheist. Has it ever occurred to any religious apologist that they are the only ones saying that atheism makes this claim? No atheist I have ever met, known or heard of has ever said anything like this or anything close to it. It is the lowest depths of mendacity for apologists like this to continue bandying about the lie that atheism denies morality, when all the actual atheists are saying completely the opposite.
Those pundits who trumpet the evil act of a sick and disturbed young man as proof of their own views, in reality, prove nothing but the painfully shallow and circumscribed limits of their own compassion.
D’Souza is no match for any of them.