Why did a 16-year-old Minnesota student go on a shooting spree and cause the deadliest school shooting in the USA in six years?
The first funeral services have been held and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Justice Department continue their investigation into the question “Why?”: why did a 16-year-old Minnesota student go on a shooting spree and cause the deadliest school shooting in the USA in six years? Nine people were killed in Red Lake, Minnesota, last week. Seven victims were at the student’s own school, Red Lake High School; the shooter’s grandfather and lady companion were the other victims. The shooter eventually took his own life.
In 1999, there were 15 deaths at a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado. At that time, AiG wrote about the teen killers being obsessed with ultra-violent video games. Perhaps more significantly, they were also fascinated by German Nazism and its ideas of a Darwinian struggle for a “master race” (the teens even wore T-shirts bearing the famous Darwinist slogan “Natural Selection”).
So to help answer the “Why?” question, we need to attempt to understand the culture of America’s largely secular public education system.
So there were some answers to the “Why?” question in Columbine. The Minnesota killer also had a fascination with Nazism, though not wearing any overt Darwinian slogans. So to help (at least partly) answer the “Why?” question, we need to attempt to understand the culture of America’s largely secular public education system.
As Dr. David Catchpoole of AiG-Australia wrote in 1999 concerning the Columbine massacre (see How to Build a “Bomb” in the United States Public School System (Cartoon)), such a fascination about death among many young people today is hardly surprising, “given that most public schools in Western nations now teach that violence and death are ‘natural’ evolutionary mechanisms that have operated with chance processes to produce man over millions of years.”
Pastor Gino Geraci, whose church was just three blocks from Columbine and who had the opportunity, as a police chaplain, to be at the scene while the killing rampage unfolded, echoed Dr. Catchpoole’s thoughts about school violence when he spoke to AiG in 1999.
He recounted the conversation he had with a high-ranking official in the Columbine school district right after the shooting had stopped. Weeping, this educator asked Pastor Geraci why such a tragedy could happen. Gino had to tell him that his schools “have taught our children that they come from nowhere, and that is where they’re going, and that life is a point of pain in a meaningless existence. And they believed you.”
While Pastor Geraci acknowledged that ultimately the shooters were responsible for what had happened on that violent day in Colorado, he argued that “this generation must come to grips with the consequences of living in a Western culture that has adopted the philosophy that evolution is fact. When evolution is taught as ‘truth’ in schools, it has real consequences.”
A former evolutionist, Pastor Geraci added that evolution increasingly pervades the thinking of society, and so young people no longer have any concept of Christian morality, of right and wrong; they just do what is “right in their own eyes” (see Judges 17:6; 21:25). Gino had the opportunity to use this tragedy and show his congregation-and the several police officers he witnessed to in the aftermath of the murders-that there is a clear connection between evolutionary thinking and society’s decline.
The Red Lake killer is dead and the current investigations about his motives may not yield more clues (apart from the connection to Nazism, a philosophy built on an evolutionary foundation,1 and the possibility that he abused antidepressants) to his motives.
At the same time, there is a lesson that can be applied here. The Bible-beginning with the Genesis account of history-can help young people and adults understand why there is so much death in this world. Death, bloodshed, disease and suffering are a consequence of sin (Genesis 3). However, the message that most students hear in Western nations is that violence and death are “natural” evolutionary results. Do we wonder why our young people-exposed to an evolutionary worldview of purposelessness and meaninglessness -react in “unpredictable” (yet in hindsight, not necessarily surprising) ways?
Instead, they need to hear the message-and see that it is credible-that they are made in the image of God, and the Bible really is true. So even though they are sinners, they can know purpose and meaning in life through receiving Jesus Christ, and be saved for eternity.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.