On Friday, Neil deGrasse Tyson published the following tweet:
Here are all the issues I have with Tyson’s tweet:
1. It’s condescending. One can criticize someone else’s belief system or political positions without being smug or dismissive. No one’s mind will be changed by this tweet; it will not cause anyone to thoughtfully reconsider a previously held belief. In fact, it will most likely cause people to shut down, or turn away from Tyson’s viewpoint.
2. Tyson doesn’t seem to understand the nature of prayer. Prayer isn’t simply a requesting service wherein one asks for something and God presses the red or green button. Prayer is a means of communicating with the creator, not only to make requests, but to give thanks, ask forgiveness, and offer praise — among many other things. Believers understand that while prayer can indeed change the course of human events, God doesn’t think as we do, and as such, our requests may not be answered in the way we desire. We also understand that because we live in a fallen world, we cannot prevent all tragedy.
Further, accepting the existence of an all powerful creator, one who listens to and even changes circumstances based on the prayers of the creatures he created, one cannot know what tragedies may have been prevented as a result of appeals for intercession. One cannot know how such a creator may or may not have influenced a disturbed or wicked individual to turn away from actions that would harm others.
3. Tyson also misunderstands the intent of offering prayer following a tragic event. Believers don’t think prayers will end school shootings, but in the aftermath of such an event, prayers are offered in the hopes that God will provide comfort to the families and friends of the deceased and injured. Additionally, lawmakers may pray in order to receive the wisdom to move forward with a viable legislative solution, rather than one that is fueled by panic or agenda, producing something that has a veneer of quality, but is ineffective in practice.
4. Lastly, with this tweet, Tyson has poured gasoline on the raging anti-faith fire that is consuming our culture. His status in our society as a “man of science” means that he is taken very seriously by a great many people. His apparent contempt for religion, as well as his gross misunderstanding of the functions of prayer and the way in which religious individuals operate, contribute to society’s already twisted understating of faith.
It’s apparent that Tyson believes that gun control, as defined by progressives, is the best way to stop school shootings. However, his mockery of those with whom he disagrees — or perhaps doesn’t understand — will lead not to solutions, but to bitterness and further division.