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On MSNBC’s “Hugh Hewitt” last Saturday, well-known Harvard professor Steven Pinker asked where was God during the massacre that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida.

Pinker was on the show to discuss his new book, Enlightenment Now. When defending his book, he stated: “It is not against religion. It is certainly against the belief that God interferes with the laws of the universe and that by praying to him we can make the world better. I think that is a dangerous belief because it’s not true. If we want to make the world better, we have to figure out how to do it ourselves. If we want to cure disease, we have to come up with antibiotics and vaccines and not prayer. If we want to stave off global warming, we can’t assume God won’t let bad things happen.”

Pinker continued and discussed the Florida shooting, which he stated “Cast doubt on the idea that there is a benevolent shepherd who looks out for human welfare. What was the benevolent shepherd doing while the teenager was massacring his classmates?”

He added, “If you’re counting on God to make the world a better place you are probably going to make the world a worse place because he is not listening and we saw that yesterday.”

Christians everywhere were offended by Pinker’s comments, and disagreed with his analysis. Many spoke up saying that we should not be blaming God for the work of Satan. Others cited that God has been readily pushed out of society, for example no prayers in schools, and therefore we are suffering from the consequences of these actions.

Why God allows suffering is a hot topic that has been debated in Christian circles since the beginning of the religion. Pastors understand that after tragedy, they have to find a way to properly address doubts felt by their congregations.

Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of The Humanitarian Disaster Institute, stated:”People will be turning to Christian leaders for guidance in the aftermath of the senseless violence that happened yesterday…One of the biggest challenges pastors will face is the pressure to explain why someone would do something like this. Yet, no answer will take away the pain and heartache. What will be most helpful to those struggling is to meet them in their suffering by creating space for lament, providing comfort, encouraging community, and reminding others of the hope we have in Christ.”

One way that Christians can come together during tragedies is through volunteer efforts. Despite many that criticize the Christian faith, there are still organizations that mobilize after tragedies of this stature. Chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association arrived in Flordia within hours of the shooting and are trained to provide emotional and spiritual support amid crises. The team partnered up with Parkridge Church to host a vigil for the victims.

Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, said in a statement “So many lives have been forever changed by this evil act. As we pray for the students, faculty, and families, we know God can bring hope and comfort, in Jesus Christ, in the darkest hours.”

These statements are very different from Pinker’s claims, and these organizations believe we should focus on God after tragedy’s like this. Scripture promises that God never leaves us, and that evil is going to be a part of our world due to incredible sin.

“He’s the only hope we have. He’s the only thing that provides a future. He’s the only one who can bring peace where there is nothing but lostness and struggle and anger and fury and confusion…We just want to see Christ in the forefront of all of this,” Pastor Eddie Bevill of Parkridge Church stated in an interview.

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