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Darwin at Columbine Redux

Editor’s note:  I post frequently on the ethical implications of materialism.  There is a reason for that.  I have dealt personally with the deadly consequences of the materialist worldview taken to its logical end .  Below is a post that first appeared on these pages on November 9, 2007:

In a recent post Denyse O’Leary linked to a news story coverning Pekka Eric Auvinen, the Finnish student who killed eight in a shooting spree at his school.  Apparently Auvinen was an ardent Darwinist who considered himself to be an instrument of natural selection.  He wrote:  “I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgaces of human race and failures of natural selection.”

One of O’Leary’s interlocutors more or less accused her of cherry picking her data to push her personal religious agenda.  Apparently this person believes this case is an aberation, and it is unfair to suggest a connection between Darwin’s theory and a school shooter’s self understanding as an instrument of natural selection.  Not so. 

As the attorney for the families of six of the students killed at Columbine, I read through every single page of Eric Harris’ jounals; I listened to all of the audio tapes and watched the videotapes, including the infamous “basement tapes.”  There cannot be the slightest doubt that Harris was a worshiper of Darwin and saw himself as acting on Darwinian principles.  For example, he wrote:  “YOU KNOW WHAT I LOVE??? Natural SELECTION!  It’s the best thing that ever happened to the Earth.  Getting rid of all the stupid and weak organisms . . . but it’s all natural!  YES!” 

Elsewhere he wrote:  “NATURAL SELECTION.  Kill the retards.”  I could multiply examples, but you get the picture.

It was no coincidence that on the day of the shootings Harris wore a shirt with two words written on it:  “Natural Selection.”

I am not suggesting that Auvinen’s and Harris’ actions are the inevitable consequences of believing in Darwinism.  It is, however, clear that at least some of Darwin’s followers understand “survival of the fittest” and the attendant amorality at the bottom of Darwinism as a license to kill those whom they consider “inferior.”  Nothing could be more obvious.

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38 Responses to Darwin at Columbine Redux

  1. Thanks for this post.

    While the actions of these young men are not the inevitable consequences of believing Darwinism, the conclusions they came to are.

    The difference is that they decided, as did the the Nazis, to put Darwin’s ideas, taken to their natural logical conclusions, into actions. Actions that Darwin himself would have found appalling. But, only because there remained in him much of the borrowed Judeo/Christian values still held by most of the world around him.

    Like Peter Singer and many other Darwinists, they simply took Darwin’s ideas to their logical conclusions.

    Unfortunately, contrary to most Darwinists, these young men also chose to be part of the fulfillment of Darwin’s prediction of the elimination of “inferior” races by the “superior” one(s) – they, wrongly seeing themselves as the latter.

    Darwinian logic is ill. However, no amount of sophistry can remove the underlying implications of his theory.

    No wonder Hoyle said they were “in a sense mentally ill”.

  2. Darwinism gave some young people the idea that they were so superior to others that it was okay to shoot them – in settled societies with law codes.

    That needs to be considered.

    English Common Law – the law of the English-speaking peoples, love it or hate it – is no respecter of persons in these matters.

    All murdered persons are equal.

    You cannot get away with murdering a person by pointing out that she was 85 years old anyway, or was really sick, or had Down syndrome, or was just a crack ho somewhere.

    At least, I would not recommend trying such a defense in a Toronto courtroom.

    But maybe we have yet to be enlightened?

    My big question – Barry and others have raised it – is what would Darwinism ever contribute to an explanation of why these murders are wrong?

    If the answer is nothing, I can’t see what it would contribute to the peace of civil society?

  3. Barry, I have a question. Which of the following do you believe?

    1. You can’t derive an “ought” from an “is”, so materialists have no resources with which to make moral judgments. Materialism is incompatible with the existence of any ethical code.

    2. Materialism (more specifically, Darwinism) does entail a specific ethical code, one that advocates the elimination of the weak.

    It should be obvious that these are incompatible positions.

  4. If the answer is nothing, I can’t see what it would contribute to the peace of civil society?

    Why should it contribute anything? Darwin put forward a scientific theory, not a moral or political one.

  5. Denyse,

    In response to your question, I don’t think Darwinism contributes to an explanation of why the murders were wrong. Neither does it contribute to an explanation of why the murders were right. This is not particularly surprising or shocking, since it’s a feature shared by every single scientific theory. The theory of relativity has nothing to contribute to such an explanation either. And frankly, Harris’s “NATURAL SELECTION. Kill the retards.” is about as much of a non-sequitur as “E = mc^2. Kill the retards.”

  6. 6

    Sotto Voce, in your comment at [3] you commit two logical fallacies at once: “false dilemma” and “straw man.” You ask which of these positions I hold:

    1. You can’t derive an “ought” from an “is”, so materialists have no resources with which to make moral judgments. Materialism is incompatible with the existence of any ethical code.

    2. Materialism (more specifically, Darwinism) does entail a specific ethical code, one that advocates the elimination of the weak.

    Then you state: “It should be obvious that these are incompatible positions.”

    Well, certainly your first option is incompatible with your second option. But your second option does not, as you imply, exhaust the possibilities. You have set up a false dilemma. No one I know of holds the second view. It is a straw man of your own creation.

    Here are the actual facts. Option 1 is true. One cannot derive an “ought” from an “is.” That is obvious.

    The killers to whom I have alluded do not, however, hold the view expressed in option 2. Instead, they hold a very different view: “Materialism (more specifically, Darwinism) entails that there is NO ethical code. Therefore, there is no reason not to kill people whom I consider inferior if to do so gives me satisfaction for whatever reason.”

    If you deny the conclusions of the post there is no point in arguing with you. For you deny that which is undeniable and are therefore quite literally hopeless.

  7. It is, however, clear that at least some of Darwin’s followers understand “survival of the fittest” and the attendant amorality at the bottom of Darwinism as a license to kill those whom they consider “inferior.” Nothing could be more obvious.

    For the record: the concept of “survival of the fittest” was not invented by Darwin; Herbert Spencer is the one to blame.

  8. Compliments of Judge DeWeese (http://bit.ly/xMYQy) and the “humanist ethics”

    I. The universe is self-existent and not created. Man is a product of cosmic accidents, and there is nothing higher than man. (Humanist Manifesto I)
    II. Ethics depend on the person and the situation. Ethics need no religious or ideological justification. (Humanist Manifesto I)
    III. There is no absolute truth. What’s true for you may not be true for me. (Humanist John Dewey)
    IV. The meaning of law evolves. “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.” (Us. Sup. Ct. Chief Justice Chas. Hughes)
    V. “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.” (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey)
    VI. Pesonal autonomy is a higher good than responsibility to your neighbor or obedience to fixed moral duties. (Humanist Manifesto II)
    VII. Quality-of-life decisions justify assisting the death of a fetus, defective infant, profoundly disabled or terminally ill person. (Princeton U. Prof. Perter Singer)

  9. Oleary @ 2

    “My big question – Barry and others have raised it – is what would Darwinism ever contribute to an explanation of why these murders are wrong?”

    Nothing. What would quantum mechanics or calculus contribute to that explanation?

  10. Barry,

    My post is neither a false dilemma nor a strawman. It is not a false dilemma because I did not claim that the alternatives I presented exhaust the options. I was merely confused about which of these two positions you adhered to, so I asked. I was fairly confident that you do agree with one of those two positions and not some third one, which is why I didn’t list an exhaustive set of options. And I was right! You are advocating position 1.

    As for your claim that no one would support option 2, I direct your attention to comment 1 by Borne, where he suggests that “the elimination of “inferior” races by the “superior” one(s)” logically follows from Darwinism.

    At the end of your post you say that if I deny your conclusions, arguing with me is hopeless. This is a strange rhetorical gambit. Under what circumstances would an argument not be hopeless? If the arguer agreed with your conclusions? Presumably then there would be no basis for argument. So I can only assume you take your position as completely self-evident and inarguable. This is startling intellectual hubris. You have basically decreed that an entire philosophical tradition advocated by a number of extremely deep thinkers (Aristotle, Hume, Adam Smith, Mill, among others) is so obviously wrong it is not worth arguing about.

    If you change your mind, let me know, and I’d be glad to defend my contention that materialism does not necessarily leave us without any moral compass.

  11. Barry @6 says -

    The killers to whom I have alluded do not, however, hold the view expressed in option 2. Instead, they hold a very different view: “Materialism (more specifically, Darwinism) entails that there is NO ethical code. Therefore, there is no reason not to kill people whom I consider inferior if to do so gives me satisfaction for whatever reason.”

    But this view of materialism clearly makes an astounding and incorrect leap of logic from asserting materialism to articulating a code of behavior with absolutely no restraints.

    A more correct line of thinking would say “Materialism entails NO ethical code. Therefore, materialism is irrelevant to social mores.”

    Sadly, it is indeed true that some people who profess to be Darwinists or Christians or Muslims or Conservatives or Liberals or whatever get their licenses to kill from the bottom of the -ism.

    This includes “survival of the fittest” as well as “kill them to save their souls” and so on.

  12. 12

    Larry Tanner writes: “But this view of materialism clearly makes an astounding and incorrect leap of logic from asserting materialism to articulating a code of behavior with absolutely no restraints.”

    What a odd thing to say. Nietzsche had no trouble making the leap from “materialism is true” to “good and evil” do not exist. Most people would agree that given his premises, Nietzsche’s conclusion was perfectly logical. Why do you deny that?

    “A more correct line of thinking would say “Materialism entails NO ethical code. Therefore, materialism is irrelevant to social mores.”

    Another astounding non sequitor. If materialism is true, social mores are mere arbitrary conventions. If materialism is false, social mores may be based on an underlying ethical code. And you say whether mores are grounded or groundless is irrelevant. Obviously untrue.

    “Sadly, it is indeed true that some people who profess to be Darwinists or Christians or Muslims or Conservatives or Liberals or whatever get their licenses to kill from the bottom of the -ism.
    This includes “survival of the fittest” as well as “kill them to save their souls” and so on.”

    Here you and I agree. As Hart says:

    Some [men] kill because their faiths explicitly command them to do so, some kill though their faiths explicitly forbid them to do so, and some kill because they have no faith and hence believe all things are permitted to them. Polytheists, monotheists, and atheists kill – indeed, this last class is especially prolifically homicidal, if the evidence of the twentieth century is to be consulted. Men kill for their gods, or for their God, or because there is no God and the destiny of humanity must be shaped by gigantic exertions of human will . . .
    Men will always seek gods in whose name they may perform great deeds or commit unspeakable atrocities . . . Then again, men also kill on account of money, land, love, pride, hatred, envy or ambition.
    Does religious conviction provide a powerful reason for killing? Undeniably it often does. It also often provides the sole compelling reason for refusing to kill, or for being merciful, or for seeking peace; only the profoundest ignorance of history could prevent one from recognizing this. For the truth is that religion and irreligion are cultural variables, but killing is a human constant.

  13. Ritchie @ 7-
    “This is nuts!! It is NOT the ‘logical conclusion’ of natural selection to go round murdering people. And shockingly shameless of anyone who says otherwise.”

    Natural selection states that the strong will survive and procreate while the weak will not. If killing an individual or group of individuals would give you more food and a better choice of who to mate with, then why not act in accord with your ‘selfish genes’?

    “Darwin’s theory of natural selection merely explains the diversity and family relationships found in nature. Nothing more. It is not a moral code. It is simply a statement of the way things are. It no more implies that we should go round murdering the weak than germ theory implies we should not treat sick people!”

    Then explain social Darwinism, please.

    “For one thing, many animals display basic morality. Some look after sick or injured fellows, adopt related orphans, or share food. I don’t point this out to show that nature isn’t cruel – merely that it is useless trying to derive moral rules from scientific theories.”

    The problem is that Darwin’s theory has been used to explain why we behave the way we do as well as where we came from.

    “The truth is that Eric Harris was clearly lacking the basic human compassion and empathy not to go around shooting people – a compassion and empathy which we all (with a few tragic exceptions) possess – ‘Darwinists’ just as much as ‘IDers’.”

    If we all evolved from protobacteria in a primordial soup, then where do we get these concepts of compassion and empathy? After all, we’re all fighting to survive, aren’t we?

    “How many shocking atrocities have been commited in the name of religion? Were the terrorists of 9/11 following Islam to its logical conclusion? Were the Catholic priests who sexually abuse children in their care, or the Nigerian churches who kill children as witches taking Christianity to its logical conclusion?”

    No. The terrorists who committed the acts of 9/11 were doing the same thing: perverting their holy book in order to justify murder. Christianity teaches us to love our neighbor, not kill one another.
    “Or are these people all, in fact, committing terrible deeds which need to be condemned on their own grounds and not pardoned or excused on religious terms?”

    I wouldn’t pardon anything that you just mentioned.

    “Barry Arrington – you state materialism is incompatible with the existence of any ethical code. This is rubbish. Why can’t I be a materialist and believe in basic humanitarian ethics?”

    Materialism holds that the material universe is all we have. What is the molecule of hate? Where is the locus for the gene of compassion? Atoms and molecules alone cannot produce ethics or morality in a human being. Richard Dawkins admits that science has no methods or authority for deciding what is moral or ethical.

    “You also state that Materialism (Darwinism) advocates the elimination of the weak. More rubbish. That is simply how nature behaves, which is a brute fact. You should be ashamed for pedaling such shocking, sensationalist propaganda.”

    So, nature is brutal to the weak except when animals adopt orphans and care for the sick? How contradictory.

  14. Barry, re-reading your post at 6 I notice that your position is in fact rather close to the position you describe as a strawman. You claim that it is obvious that an “ought” cannot be derived from an “is”. I agree. However, you say that materialism entails that there is no ethical code. This is essentially the same mistake as deriving an “ought” from an “is”. The claim that there is no ethical code is a NORMATIVE claim. As such, it cannot be entailed by any set of purely descriptive claims. In so far as materialism is a set of purely descriptive claims, it cannot possiby entail that there is no ethical code.

  15. I find it to be the consequence of an inconsistent message by our know-it-all Science lords.

    They will say, that nothing of this sort is implicated by Darwinian selection, and if you know the Science, there’s no way you can make the leap from one to the other. Fine, I buy that–to a degree.

    Thus we have a layman problem. This is more of the case that the layman can’t be trusted to understand all the fine points of evolution. Fine again.

    However, I wanted to evoke a picture at the beginning with the term “Science lords”. I wanted a quick phrase that captured an effect on the “lay space”.

    They may claim to be “misunderstood” in the lay space, but still there is no lack of promotion for something that can be called understanding among the lay.

    In the world of the lay, everybody needs to know evolution in order to be considered “civilized” (of course, not everyone needed to know it to build civilization) or “advanced” (but again, not to advance).

    And in some professors’ classes it appears that in order to be “educated” you have to believe what they tell you, regardless if you know the material or not–i.e. are educated on it.

    And despite being alive in modern ages, you can’t be “modern” without it. Think about it, without the normative implication that we all associate, it becomes a sort of No True Scotsman argument–in fact all these epithets do. It’s like saying you’re not a true New Yorker without a love of the Mets.

    egardless, this is what we need to teach in the schools, without any consideration of whether or not that throws a supposed “understanding” open to more people. And whether or not the finer points of anything can be understood by too great of number.

    And people will “understand” Darwinism in the way that they “understand” a lot of things. They might misunderstand it as well as the educated Science Lords misunderstand terms like “civilized”, “advanced”, “educated” and “modern”.

  16. Nothing. What would quantum mechanics or calculus contribute to that explanation?

    Which would be valid if Quantum Mechanics and Calculus have as much to do with death as Natural Selection does.

    There is also the connotation of “advancement” that occurs in the consideration of speciation through Natural Selection. And of course, “advancement” is good–and represented as an objective standard of value–and morality deals with “value”.

    But again, Quantum Mechanics and Calculus don’t have anything to do with bones–so Darwinism probably doesn’t either.

  17. “Where do you think we get our morality from?” Ritchie asks.
    A moral law giver comes to mind. You see Intelligent Design proponents have no problems explaining the presence of moral law in the universe because they start with mind. The real question is where do you get yours as a Naturalist starting from bb’s?

    You have to explain not only moral law but consciousness and free will. For I assume you believe people are responsible for their own actions, correct?

    At least Naturalist John Searle admits:

    “In order for us to have radical freedom, it looks as if we would have to postulate that inside each of us [physical bodies] was a self that was capable of interfering with the causal order of nature. That is, it looks as if we would have to contain some entity that was capable of making molecules swerve from their paths. I don’t know if such a view is even intelligible, but it’s certainly not consistent with what we know about how the world works from physics.”

    Everyone seems to know about the moral law that is above society’s laws and I guess international law is written to remind people of that. There are absolute moral laws and lifelong atheist Anthony Flew eventually realized that laws don’t just appear out of nothing. Absolute moral law coming from an absolute moral law giver is the most plausible causal explanation.

  18. Doesnt anyone here read the news ? Every day people are killed in the name of religion. Millions have been killed in the past this way, surely this doesnt need to be explained (again).

    Just for the record though, I dont believe its religion, or lack of, that leads to such behaviour, its human nature. None of us can claim immunity.

  19. Everyone with an ax to grind has used the mass school shooters to prove their point. In fact these mass murders are uncommon acts by people undergoing a mental event.

    Forty years ago a problem was discovered with human physiology and close-spaced office workplaces. Workers using newly designed workstations began having mental breaks. The cubicle was designed to deal with the vision startle reflex to control that problem by 1968. Almost no one is aware of this simple problem.

    The Finnish National Police published a picture of Auvinen’s bedroom computer. He had placed it beside a floor to ceiling closet door mirror. He could subliminally detect his own movement in peripheral vision while he surfed the Internet. He had the same mental event as those 1960′s knowledge workers.

    The Atlanta Day Trader, Redlake school and Virginia Tech shooters also created the problem.

    I discovered a way to investigate Subliminal Distraction using the Internet. It produces a mental event with paranoia, fear, panic attacks, depression, and thoughts of suicide.

    It does not create new ideas but shapes current thoughts raising them to psychotic levels. That means that each mass murder believes their own thoughts are responsible for their acts.

    This answers the question of why so many rant and rave but only a few act. Those having created the “special circumstances” for Subliminal Distraction exposure act out the delusional episode.

    While computers can create the full mental investment to allow this problem it was discovered before computers existed. The Post Office does not provide Cubicle Level Protection and two separate shooters there were mail sorters.

    Around the world there are attacks on people and things during mental events called Culture Bound Syndromes. In the U.S. it is called Going Postal. In Malaysia Amok is the name of those attacks. Among the Navajo it is called iich’aa. Records go back hundreds of years.

    VisionAndPsychosis.Net has many pages of investigation including College Suicides and Missing Students to show the connection of this phenomenon and every day life.

  20. Graham: “Doesnt anyone here read the news ? Every day people are killed in the name of religion. Millions have been killed in the past this way, surely this doesnt need to be explained (again).”

    And every day atheists commit rape and murder. Your point is…?

    Between 5,000-10,000 were killed during the Spanish Inquisition.

    100 million were killed during the purges by atheist dictators Stalin and Pol Pot in the 20th century.

    Please don’t argue that Stalin, Pol Pot, and others were only consolidating their power. If Christian regimes can be blamed for the Crusades and the Inquistion done supposedly in the name of Christianity, then atheist regimes can be blamed for atrocities committed in the name of atheism.

  21. Graham — Every day people are killed in the name of religion. Millions have been killed in the past this way, surely this doesnt need to be explained (again).

    Ideas matter and cultures are based upon them. It’s become bizarre that this simple concept is no longer recognized and even denied.

    A society based on the teachings of Jesus is going to be much different than one based solely on the Old Testament which is going to be one much different than one based on the teachings of Mohammed which is going to be one much different than one based on the ideas of Marx, Darwin or Freud or Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature.

    I’ll choose Jesus.

  22. Barb,

    If Christian regimes can be blamed for the Crusades and the Inquistion done supposedly in the name of Christianity, then atheist regimes can be blamed for atrocities committed in the name of atheism.

    Truly a point the materialists will bend backwards to avoid coming to terms with. For some reason there’s a distinct inclination for double standards from that side of the philosophical/social/political spectrum whether they be expressed explicitly or implicitly without much regard to motives, magnitude, reason or any deeper understanding of the details beyond surface-level observations about the atrocities in which such standards are applied. Christians commit crimes = Christians are criminals and religion is poisonous to society. Atheists commit mass hate crimes against religion = ummm… well that doesn’t count.

  23. the thing about natural selection and the idea of “fit” is that fit only means “fit enough to have offspring”. Guys who gun down classmates and kill themselves are less fit than your average classmate.
    Crazed killers who feel they are the natural selectors are using very arbitrary means of fitness selection. (very much like breeders do)

    If you’ve had a kid, congrats, you are fit! If you look backwards down your family tree, you can say with 100% certainty that no one had a grandfather that died from a childhood disease. Everyone that contributed to your genetic make up was fit! :D

  24. Barb @ 20

    If Christian regimes can be blamed for the Crusades and the Inquistion done supposedly in the name of Christianity, then atheist regimes can be blamed for atrocities committed in the name of atheism.

    The atrocities committed by the followers of a particular faith are usually done in the name of their particular deity, be it God or Allah.

    The atrocities committed by regimes like those of Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot are committed in the name of a political ideology like National Socialism or Marxism or Leninism. They may be atheist, but not first and foremost.

    Regardless, the question should be what do they all have in common?

    One answer is that the adherents of all of the above, whether religious or atheist, believe that they are in possession of some sort of absolute or ultimate truth which justifies almost any act in order to propagate it.

    Doubters, like agnostics, are unlikely to fly planes into buildings or strap on explosive vests to further something they aren’t really sure about.

  25. It is, however, clear that at least some of Darwin’s followers understand “survival of the fittest” and the attendant amorality at the bottom of Darwinism as a license to kill those whom they consider “inferior.” Nothing could be more obvious.

    If that were true then we should expect to see higher rates of immoral or amoral behavior amongst those most likely to have become contaminated by Darwinian thought through prolonged exposure.

    Do we, therefore, find that there are higher rates of murder, rape or child abuse, for example, amongst professional biologists as compared with clergy, say, who are presumably inoculated against immorality by their faith?

  26. To Barb & Tribune7:

    My point was (though seversky beat me to it) that atrocities are comitted by humans. Seversky also makes the point that crime rates are no higher in groups of non-believers than believers. Eg: the Scandanavian countries have faith in God that runs at about 20%, while in the US its about 80%. So, do Scandanavians have a higher crime rate ?

    On the basis of murder by shooting I think the USA leads the world. So, apparantly Christians like shooting each other ? I dont think this is right either, its humans that do the shooting, not Xtians, Atheists or whatever.

  27. One of O’Leary’s interlocutors more or less accused her of cherry picking her data to push her personal religious agenda. Apparently this person believes this case is an aberation, and it is unfair to suggest a connection between Darwin’s theory and a school shooter’s self understanding as an instrument of natural selection. Not so.

    So what? How many crackpots have acted under the delusion of being a tool of God’s will? Where do we put the blame for 9/11, Al Qaedea or Taliban? Darwin or Muhammad? And a potential ultimate problem: if natural evolution at last should win the culture war, should the theory be suppressed, declared anathema, to make the world a better place?

    Any theory, false or not, may be misused. Where do we put the blame?

  28. So, do Scandanavians have a higher crime rate ?

    Of course not, but that’s a different world. Empty churches, “socialism”, I shudder at the thought.

  29. Well, if you adhere to the materialistic framework that evolution explains our existence, then it must explain our whole existence, in which case you can put the blame for everything squarely on the shoulders of evolution.

  30. Graham1 — Eg: the Scandanavian countries have faith in God that runs at about 20%, while in the US its about 80%. So, do Scandanavians have a higher crime rate ?

    Graham1, here is the list of homicide rates by nation . The U.S. is higher than most Western nations (albeit not the highest).

    If, however, you want safety rather than freedom perhaps Islam is the answer since the nation with the lowest murder rate is 95 percent Muslim and several other Islamic nations rank below the Scandinavian ones.

    The point is that cultural values matter. Swedish society is based on a Christian framework — it only ended its state church a decade ago — and as bizarre as this may seem to you I suspect European schools are more sympathetic to Christian values than U.S. ones.

    BTW, when the U.S. had school prayer, Bible readings and Christmas carols, the murder rate was much lower. For instance, Philadelphia, my city, had 54 murders in 1959 when it had a population of 2 million. Last year, it had 322 murders in a population of 1.4 million.

    And consider the so-called religious right issue of abortion. European laws are much stricter than U.S. ones.

    And let’s not forget that several times — especially in the last century — societies arose that specifically rejected God and/or Christianity. In each and ever case they were a small taste of Hell on Earth.

    So again, culture matters. To deny the value — and supremacy of the teachings of Jesus — is suicidal delusion.

    And to seek to encourage doubt in God is pettiness of the most pathetic kind.

  31. To tribune 7 #30:

    Im still trying to stay on the topic raised by Mr Arrington: a direct (causal) link between materialism & crime, to quote:

    It was no coincidence that on the day of the shootings Harris wore a shirt with two words written on it: “Natural Selection.”

    Im saying that there is no link. If there were, you would see crime rampant in Scandanavia, non-believing biology professors would be eating babies, no homicides in USA, etc. You dont see any of this, bad things are done by humans, not believers or non-believers.

    And whether you would like to live (or not live) in Philadelphia, Muslim countries, or wherever, is beside the point. Im not sure I would like to live in Scandanavia.

    And I loved your last line.

  32. Graham1 –If there were, you would see crime rampant in Scandanavia,

    Unless those that rule make the law such that killing is not a crime.

    non-believing biology professors would be eating babies,

    Or harvesting their stem cells.

    no homicides in USA, etc.

    While most Americans still believe in God those that run our cultural institutions, media and educational system are disproportionately hostile to Christianity.

    And I loved your last line.

    Which means I can end this post on a point of agreement.

  33. 33

    Tribune 7,

    I don’t think you’ve adequately addressed Graham’s point. You’re suggesting that abortion and embryonic stem cell harvesting are really crimes but are not recorded as such in Scandanavia and other places. That’s as may be, but the point still stands that you don’t see rates of crime that (virtually) all people recognise as crime (e.g. murder, armed robbery) significantly higher among materialists than among religious.

  34. Prof. Gumby,

    You miss my point. I’m saying abortion and embryonic are not crimes.

    The crime rate in the Soviet Union was low but that’s only because killing a Kulak who wished to be left alone was not a crime if the killing was done with the sanction of the state. The same was true with regard to academics in Pol Pot’s Khmer Republic.

    The more authoritarian a society is, the less crime, along with there being less freedom, and along with there being more suffering.

    Crimes are defined by law. If murder is legal it is not a crime.

    It’s murder to kill a newborn. If noted materialist Pete Singer got his way it wouldn’t be.

    And I suppose his only objection to eating to them would be that it would be an impractical food source.

  35. 35

    Tribune7,

    I do understand your point. And I accept what you say about authoritarian regimes. But are you suggesting that Sweden is ruled by Pøl Pøt? If not, then

    the point still stands that you don’t see rates of crime that (virtually) all people recognise as crime (e.g. murder, armed robbery) significantly higher among materialists than among religious.

  36. Prof Gumby, look at it this way: If killing babies were a crime, the crime rate would be much higher among materialists.

  37. 37

    Trib,

    The point of this discussion is that materialists have ethics that lead to less hesitation in killing people because there is no objective moral standard saying murder is wrong.

    If this were true, you would expect to see higher rates of adult murder in less religious (or at least less Christian countries).

    You don’t. E.g. Scandanavia.

    Therefore, materialists do not necessarily have ethics that are significantly different than religious in many areas.

  38. Therefore, materialists do not necessarily have ethics that are significantly different than religious in many areas.

    Prof G., that’s point. In the West the ethics held by materialists are invariably traceable to Christianity — unless the materialist is explicitly rejecting Christianity in which case his ethics are obviously going to be significantly different.

    The culture war concerns attempts to replace Christian values with utilitarian ones, and to replace the concept of God-given rights (we are endowed by our Creator etc.) with one in which the political system is the final determinant.

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