Home » Philosophy, Religion » Do Dawkins and Dennett Incite to Hatred?

Do Dawkins and Dennett Incite to Hatred?

I live in Arvada, Colorado, and for many years I attended the church associated with the YWAM shooting on Sunday.  Earlier this year I befriended two of the young men going through the training program there, one from New Zealand and the other from England.  I am numb with sorrow, and my prayers go up for the families of the victims.

 The media is reporting that Matthew Murray posted the following on the web:  ”I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. …God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you … as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”

Look at the last part of that quote closely.  One wonders if Murray has been reading Dawkins or Dennett.  By blaming the world’s ills on religious people do Dawkins and Dennett incite to hatred and make it more likely that tragedies of this sort can occur?  I don’t know, but it is an interesting question.

 Addition:

Surprisingly, several commenters have suggested that unless I can prove a direct causal relationship I should be quiet.  Stuart Harris as much as says that unless I can show that Murray read an atheist book last Saturday and started killing people on Sunday then I should “shut the hell up.”  Mr. Harris, let me clue you in.  Human motivation is rarely simple, linear and direct.   The standard you set is patently unreasonable.  A multitude of variables contribute to human actions, and one of those variables is what I would call the “intellectual climate” of the culture.  Are Dawkins and his ilk guilty of contributing to a climate of hatred (or at least animosity) against religious people generally and Christians in particular?  Hitchens calls religion a “poison.”  Isn’t it axiomatic that poison is bad and should be eradicated? 

 Mr. Harris, the killer said that Christians are to blame for most of the problems in the world.  One wonders where he got that notion.  I think it is a fair question to ask whether Darkins, Dennett and Hitchens have gone too far with their inflammatory rhetoric.  You can stick your head in the sand if you want to, but thinking people ask questions.  Are Dawkins, Dennett or Hitchens directly responsible for Sunday’s murders?  Obviously not.  At the end of the day, my inquiry is not so much about “responsibility” as “irresponsibility.”  Have the vituperative atheists been irresponsible in contributing to an intellectual climate that condones animosity toward religious people?  It’s a fair question.

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125 Responses to Do Dawkins and Dennett Incite to Hatred?

  1. No – I think more the language pattern of Hitchens in this one [dry sarcasm fully intended].

    Seriously, though – his words read straight from the recent debates had between Hitchens and various religious thinkers I have heard of late as Hitchens promotes his latest polemic on religion.

    On a brighter note – humans will apparently be evolving much quicker now (most likely toward blissful, non-religious civility).:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,316375,00.html

  2. Sounds more like Hitchens, what with religion poisoning everything, and all. Of course, I never want to reduce it to the fairytale level of speak against Christians and somewhere a Christian dies, the way gay activists do.

    We need to be mature enough not to replicate that kind of propaganda. Words don’t kill people, however they can get in the hands of mentally ill people and become their motivation.

  3. If you want to read more of his writings than google nghtmrchld26.

    It’s pretty dumb to be blaming atheists for this. This is what I wrote on another forum.

    “”"
    That’s a key point. He mentions in his writings that many people “reached out” to him in these churches. Even those people on that message board tried to get him to seek help. He wouldn’t go. He seems like someone who would only be happy if everything went his way and would always bite the hand that fed him. Everyone, including his parents, probably gave up on him and he became isolated. He probably did nothing but sit on is puter all day and wallowing in his own self pity over past social wrongs.
    “”"

  4. Just playing the other shoe here, but..

    I think it would be good to know exactly *why* it is dumb to blame atheists for this. After all, the writings of Dennett, Dawkins and Hitchens never hesitate at all to caricaturize and directly blame the religious whenever they are connected (correctly or not)in any way to heinous acts of this nature. Seems this shoe can be comfortably worn on the atheist side as well, no?

  5. I have to say how impressed I have been that this blog is emerging from a self-imposed “keep it to the science” straightjacket and unashamedly tackling the materialist/atheist position on more fronts.

    We will make more progress by calling out the influence of Darwinism in a larger context, in a social and philosophical context and not just a scientific one. We need to continue to point out those connections between materialism/atheism and eugenics, nihilism, mass murders and general sociopathic and psychotic behaviour.

  6. know it is popular to put forward evolution as a creed but it is really only a statement of how the world seems to operate; it does not propose any moral judgements. (I know, I know, many people feel that is the problem but that’s a different problem.)

    Ruse makes the distinction between the Theory of Evolution and its implications, Evolutionism, which he believes to be a religion. So I would think the real thing under discussion here is Evolutionism.

  7. I am not an atheist, but I really struggle with the rush to blame them for every tragedy. So let me pose another interesting question.

    Murray had been in the Youth With a Mission program and appears to come from a good Christian family (he was homeschooled and his brother apparently attends Oral Roberts University). Rather than blaming atheists should consider that perhaps the Christian community needs to figure out more effective ways to minister to the needs of mentally ill individuals?

  8. Arguing that atheism has no creed is very close to the current debate over tolerance. Those who argue heatedly for tolerance are typically doing so in a self-refuting fashion. ie: That’s intolerant! (as if they have no stance whatever in the matter).

    Atheists often enjoy the comfort of falling back on the false notion that they are “creedless” or neutral, but will readily co-opt Judeo-Christian concepts of good and evil when distinguishing between say, those who are “just nasty” or those who are “very nice.”

    Evolution and Abiogenesis fall neatly into this discussion, because, as Dawkins so famously put it – these two beliefs made it possible for atheists to be intellectually fulfilled. Back then, it was religion that scoffed and ridiculed (recall Huxley and Wilberforce exchange on ape descent). Now – it is that sacred priesthood of atheistic evolutionists that have turned the tables and will not allow open discussion.

  9. I should note that my arguments above are not made necessarily to blame atheists for this recent shooting, but BarryA’s original question here is quite relevant in this debate because the premier atheists (those who are the apparent spokes persons for that worldview) are constantly bringing up the supposed connection between religion and terrible acts of humanity.

    The real question for me becomes: Can I attribute this act to the teachings of Christ and his followers? Can I attribute it to the teachings of Mohammed and his followers? That of Nietzsche? I have to ask myself: WWSD? – What would Stalin do?

    [That last one should be a bumper sticker I think]

  10. Another point to ponder:

    Let’s say we some powerful organizations calling themselves Christian make documentaries, publish books in which atheism is called “the root of all evil,” a virus etc. and someone picks up a gun, enters a meeting of atheists and kills several.

    Would Christianity be blamed?

    Do you really need a hint as to what the answer would be?

    It should also be noted that Christian groups do make documentaries, publish books, preach sermons condemning atheism, yet no violence has been reported because of this.

  11. I have to disagree with JWarner in #5 that these posts are a good idea (no offence to BarryA). We don’t know enough yet, to have any defensible position on what happened!

    We can speculate on motivations ad nauseum, but until there’s some real evidence we can’t jump to any conclusions regardless of how it might fit with our world view. Back to the science, please!

  12. tribune7, I am not exactly sure what your point is? Are you saying that Dawkins is to blame for Murray’s actions because he visited Colorado Springs several years ago? That really stretches the limits of credulity.

    Although as long as we are engaging in credulous speculation, shouldn’t we note that Colorado Springs is home to Focus on the Family and wonder if perhaps there was more that could have been done to help the Murray family deal with their troubled son?

  13. I do not think it is wise to blame Dawkins for some crazy kook. On the other hand, if there is a war between the United Atheist Alliance and the Allied Atheist Alliance and they murder the one wise one that questions them…yes I would hold Dawkins responsible for this state of affairs.

  14. Are you saying that Dawkins is to blame for Murray’s actions because he visited Colorado Springs several years ago?

    What I’m saying is that atheism is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects atheism from normal criticism.

    Let’s now stop being so damned respectful.

  15. BarryA,

    “I don’t know, but it is an interesting question.”

    That’s right, you don’t know — so don’t ask the question.

    Nothing personal, but unless you have very convincing evidence that this particular killer claimed he was directly acting on the writings of Dennett and Dawkins, you should just shut the hell up.

    Dancing around in the blood of victims only 48 hours after they’re dead in order to make a rhetorical point is kind of sick. You’re not doing anybody any good.

  16. StuartHarris – That’s good, let out the anger. I’ll get a couch. When you are all fnished, you can reasonable establish the proper number of hours to elapse before the forum can again return to “dancing around in the blood.”

  17. Tribune, I would note that you didn’t really answer the question. You seem to want the reader to walk away with the impression that atheism is to blame. But you seem to lack the conviction to commit yourself to this premise.

    Fair enough. Are you willing to accept the proposition that perhaps, given the background, that the religious community, for all it’s outreach to troubled individuals, may have failed this one?

  18. What about the Virginia Tech killings? Should we blame Dawkins and Dennett there too? But Cho was a Christian so can’t do that. He was some screwed up loner who hated rich kis. There are probably hundreds of these events that take place over the years around the world and most of the time it can be placed at the foot of some dysfunctional individual(s).

    I don’t think it is any good pointing at these events and if one wants to attack atheism, it has to go where more harm is being done, not some occasional odd ball killing people. The only good thing is that the church has an armed guard who could shoot.

  19. “Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness.
    This would apply to less atheists that I know than to other groups I know.

    And I also know atheists who don’t agree with Dawkins and these other ‘atheist leaders’. Atheists don’t follow any clergy.

    But more to the point, this man was clearly deranged. Blaming atheists seems a little left field.
    Our thoughts should be with the victims and their families.

  20. StuartHarris wrote:
    “That’s right, you don’t know — so don’t ask the question.”

    How is it that someone is supposed to find the answer to a question if they don’t ask it?

    Asking WHETHER the shooter might have been motivated by atheist propaganda need not imply that the shooter, in fact, WAS motivated by atheist propaganda. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. It’s an interesting question.

  21. Specs (19) said: “Are you willing to accept the proposition that perhaps, given the background, that the religious community, for all it’s outreach to troubled individuals, may have failed this one?”

    Absolutely. Many people have been hurt or disappointed by Christians, including me. But the question being asked here is not, “Who hurt this guy’s feelings?” The question is, “What ideas influenced, or allowed him to justify, his actions?” If the quotes BarryA provided are true, then this guy thought Christians are the cause of all pain and suffering in the world. Which is exactly what some prominent atheists are publicly espousing. Couple that idea with the belief that humans have no intrinsic value but are merely the accidental by-product of nature, and you have a recipe for atrocity. The difference between Matthew Murray and someone like Hitchens, is that, unfortunately, Matthew is deranged enough to act consistenly with his beliefs, while, thankfully, Hitchens is not.

  22. The whole point is that he was deranged and not thinking. He’s not like someone like Stalin or Mao or Osama. They need a convincing nihilistic ideology to get people to follow and carry out atrocities. A deranged person is not dependent on an ideology and will just find another excuse to kill if the original reason doesn’t work.

  23. One thing to keep in mind: Some people here are arguing that this case shouldn’t be viewed as having anything to do with atheism, because clearly the killer was deranged.

    I’m sorry, but, that doesn’t fly. Part of the New Atheist argument is that, even if many or even most religious people are personally civil, religion and faith acts as an enabler for the crazier, more violent people. The OP made it clear that the question isn’t whether any particular atheist is personally responsible for these and other killing sprees – Barry asked questions about contributions to a social climate. And I’d personally argue that, considering the question of what religious (particularly Christian) cultures promote and directly/indirectly encourage has been a battleground for the atheists, asking what atheism – and in particular, New Atheism and the attitudes some of its most vocal and visible leadership particularly encourages – promotes in turn is not only valid, but important.

    And I also reject the implication that it’s unChristian or unfair to ask or entertain the possibility that some parts of modern atheism can set the groundwork for some bad things. Writing every shooting or attempted shooting off as ‘just the act of someone who is deranged’ without questioning what could be contributing to the events is irresponsible.

  24. StuartHarris,

    Nothing personal, but unless you have very convincing evidence that this particular killer claimed he was directly acting on the writings of Dennett and Dawkins, you should just shut the hell up.

    You can disagree with UD writers aplenty, but you need to find other ways to express your sentiments in this instance. Considering the positive contributions you’ve made in the past to UD I’ll let this one slide.

  25. the killer said that Christians are to blame for most of the problems in the world. One wonders where he got that notion. I think it is a fair question to ask whether Darkins, Dennett and Hitchens have gone too far with their inflammatory rhetoric.

    It is also, then a fair question to ask if his being dropped from the Youth With a Mission program led to an irrational feeling of rejection that manifested itself as a hatred for those that he felt abandoned him. I am not saying that is what happened, but it is an interesting question. As you rightly point out “[h]uman motivation is rarely simple, linear and direct.”

  26. All:

    We do need to be calm and sympathetic, and to be willing to wait on evidence before drawing firm conclusions.

    However, we should also recognise that in recent years, secularists have been deeply — and even on a routine and often celebrated basis — involved in a rhetoric of incivility bordering on hatred of Christains that has materially helped polarise and poison the atmosphere in contemporary Western Culture.

    For instance, it is probably just a little ironic to note:

    1] This very past w/end, we saw the global opening of the US$180mn Golden Compass movie, based on the works of Mr Pullman, who according to at least one reviewer, has declared in critique of C S Lewis, that his Chronicles of Narnia were written in defense of “a religion whose main creed seemed to be to despise and hate people unlike yourself.” [Surely, Mr Pullman should know the substance of the Sermon on the Mount and its most important quote, from Matt 7:12? What of Gal 3:28? And, what is so hard to understand in the words "For God so loved the WORLD . . ." in Jn 3:16? What is his rhetoric telling us, then?]

    2] In the underlying His Dark Materials trilogy, Christianity is EXPLICITLY and repeatedly made into a fount of unmitigated evil, and God is made into a fraud and a farce. Some very troubling attitudes and behaviours are encouraged — lending further telling force to the observation made by Christian critics of Western Culture ever since Paul [Cf Rom 1:19 ff], that turning one’s back on God in resentful ingratitude is a prelude to morally chaotic behaviour. Why is Hollywood spending US$ 180 mn to promote the works of a man who does that sort of thing?

    3] Dawkins, of course [and as Trib 7 reminds us in that linked article, is notorious for insisting that those who reject his evolutionary materialism are "ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked."

    4] As Trib7 pointed out, The immediate imagery that came to Dawkins’ mind when he looked at worship in the very church where the murders happened, is a comparison to “a Nuremberg Rally of which Goebbels might have been proud.”

    5] As a telling parallel, in Vernon, CT, the Connecticut Valley Atheists put up a 3-sided holidays sign in Central Park, showing the pre-9/11 WTC towers with the sun shining through the middle — the light makes a CROSS — and with the slogan: “Imagine no religion.” CVA spokesman Denis Hines is reported as saying that “Use of the image is meant to say the Twin Towers would still be standing were it not for religion.”

    6] More broadly, there is a longstanding pattern among opinion leaders and shapers, all the way up to the professoriat, of reciting long litanies of the real and imagined sins of Christendom in a context that lacks the balance that recognises the good that many, many Christians have done — especially in the development of modern liberty. (Of course,there is a tellingly widespread lack of recognition that many of the sins of Christendom that are decried are long-standing human problems, and indeed, it was often Christians who — motivated by Gospel Ethics — were the first or among the first to stand up to them and work towards reformation. The abolition of slavery is a capital case in point; cf. here the life story of William Wilberforce and Thomas Buxton.)

    7] Indeed, CO is the very state where in the Columbine high school attacks, Christianity was a focus for murderous hatred. It is not at all surprising to see in the AP reports, that this murderer dressed in a manner reminiscent of the earlier attackers.

    In short, there is a serious need to look at the sort of climate of feelings that is being cultivated in the US [and elsewhere], and coming strongly from the secularist elites.

    This one is a wake-up call.

    For, there is such a thing as the saying that those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind . . .

    GEM of TKI

  27. The *reasoning* that lay in the minds of individuals who so willfully take lives, will forever rest in the murkiest depths of their minds.

    The *reasons*, though, they extoll for undertaking the crimes are usually something tangible to them, be it racially motivated, retribution or agenda driven. This doesn’t make it right, but for them it is corporeal. This latest one seems to have the hallmarks of this. EvolutionISM, as Patrick correctly acknowledges, may be a basis of this particular incident as the shooter needed to hold to a particular *reason* to advance his *reasoning*. It is, also, very early to make a final call on the ultimate motivation in this particularly sad incident.

    Coming, though, from a non-U.S. geographical standpoint, our daily serving of what-is-happening-in-the-US through the different media is always Hollywood, Iraq-war-stories and massacres/multiple shootings. I know that ‘the right to bear arms’ is written into the heart of many American children at birth, but isn’t it time to reconsider why you require so many accessible handguns or military-style longarms in a non-threatened part of the world? We learnt, in Australia, from the Port Arthur Massacre – the gunman claimed the lives of 35 people and wounded 37 others – about the too-readily accessible legal firemarm. We also learnt that stringent gun control continues to save lives. It doesn’t stop killing, but certainly halts massacres that have unfortunately become a saddening sleight on the greatness that is the U.S. Since Port Arthur, deaths from legal firearms has continued to plummet. To date, there have been no massacres since Port Arthur in Australia and no doubt firearm control has been an influential reason.

    The motivation to kill is still firmly entrenched in the psyche of want-to-be-murderers, but the tools are left out of reach so the devistation that they can wreak is greatly diffused. It is difficult to change the reasons and reasoning of wanna-be killers but certainly, as a nation, you could be much more effective in limiting the harm done.

  28. A better question would be: why, consistent with the atheistic/materialistic worldview, would this action be meaningfully wrong?

  29. Kairosfocus, easy now, lets reinvestigate the intelligentsia’s false dichotomy-

    “However, we should also recognize that in recent years, secularists have been deeply — and even on a routine and often celebrated basis — involved in a rhetoric of incivility bordering on hatred of Christians that has materially helped polarize and poison the atmosphere in contemporary Western Culture.”

    The issue that I would like to bring to light is the concept of generality or the fallacy by generality. What is it about the west and Christianity that dwells up so much hatred? Most often people get annoyed by those who have more than them, but to hate is another matter. And it is well known that we will blame others for our problems rather than confessing to what we can do to better ourselves. It is part of the human condition to look at ourselves last. Nonetheless, why hate the Christian west so much as to want to kill them?

    The great intellectuals have weighed in and they are ambitiously spiteful in their critiques. The atheist down trodden are right. The religious rich are wrong– even worse evil.

    But what about the dichotomy between the views of the common atheist man and those of Jesus? We are talking about religion and man here, aren’t we?

    To read the bible is to witness Christianity in its purest form. And I remind you that no religion on earth defends the notion of peace, hope and pacifism as much as the Christian text does. To claim as Dawkins does that the essence of Christianity is to hate people unlike yourself is to misrepresent its point. Dawkins confuses the battles of men with the message of the bible. Every mind the on earth thinks that he/she/it is right. No one walks around on the planet daily shouldering the conclusion that they don’t know anything, or that everyone’s views are entirely equal to theirs. This is not about religion this is the fact of the human condition. Even Gandhi demonstrated against the evils of war- even though his political intervention lead to millions of deaths.

    Christ died on the cross to transcend the physical world or to right the conflicts brewed from “relative” world views. His only allegiance was to the truth- his truth – not to the truth of this world or the human mind but to the truth that underwrites all good and all evil. To Christ the intellectual and political squabbles of the mere malleable minds of men was not worth killing over- it wasn’t even worth dieing for –

    No, Christ died for people to realize that the ultimate faulty bias of man is that which drives his hatred – The one that pins one philosophical or theological perspective against another in hopes of a war-

    Dawkins may in fact wish be a prophet for the atheistic martyrs of intellectual left- But not all martyrs see divinity.

    In fact I congratulate you Dawkins, and Dennett. You have succeeded once again in crucifying and subverting the meaning of religion in the same breath that you subvert science.

    I however will not kill you for it as was “generally” the case in atheistic communist Russia- Nor, will I even try to muzzle your illogical hatred. In fact I welcome your blatant narcissistic dissent because without it we would have no teaching materials.

    why am i getting “slow down”
    when i havent posted in 48 hours?

  30. I happen to live in “proximity” to both Colorado events (living in CS and having two children who have just visited YWAM sites/events in the last two months) and thank BarryA for trying to attach meaning to such a “senseless” tragedy.

    Some have complained that we should not comment. The chief complaint seems to be that we will be unable to get it “right”. To what extent did anti-Christian wonks and their diatribes of the last five years affect Murray? People say we can not know.

    On the other hand, that is not what BarryA asked. He brought up a question that needs to be addressed simply because of the “possibility” that certain answers to it lead to the ramifications that we witnessed here in Colorado.

    We do not do well in simply offering a casual opinion about what can or cannot be known.

    We would do well to form an argument, or to do a little research if a cogent argument is not forthcoming.

    Sometimes, though, we would do well to simply answer the question.

    I quote-mine Dawkins: those who reject his evolutionary materialism are “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.” I picked this one for two reasons: first, it was easy to copy and paste from a previous post, and second, Dawkins has never backed off of it. In fact, he goes further. I recall Dennett and his ideas about quarantining those who would train their children according to their religious beliefs (I believe that was Dennett, at any rate).

    This is obvious. OF COURSE these public voices incite hatred. What they are implying is that those “in the know” are to stop the wicked and quarantine the disease. How do I know this? Because EVERYBODY knows that the wicked ARE TO BE stopped and the only thing WORTH quarantine IS disease! I suppose a strict materialist might counter by saying that this is not a matter of hatred at all, merely rational dispatch. That type of language sounds, well, it sounds like the rationale of a few recent murderers. . . or the Nazis, or the eugenicist, or the . . .

    We are often insulated from the effects of being hated and the utterly visceral, yet utterly real, response we feel when we find ourselves in that position. However, our ability to insulate doesn’t mean that the hatred doesn’t grow and that such growth isn’t incited.

    Mr. Dawkins, what do you suggest we do with the wicked? How would the quarantine look, Mr Dennett?

    It may be easy to deny that what we are talking about is good old fashioned hatred when it comes from a smiling old professor with goofy ideas, but try to deny the hatred when you put all the ideas together and combine it with the strange, somewhat surreal, feelings of knowing that you just sent your son to the mall one mile and one half hour from the tragedy at New Life Church.

    Again, I am not arguing the case that Murray read Dawkins latest book, (in which case I would assume that he would have simply shot himself) then acted on it. I am answering the question because now is as good a time as any to answer it. Why wait ’til we see Dawkins on NOVA when everything is so “nice”?

    It may be comforting, or at least insulating, to mentally march out “the medical model”, sociological snippets, even historical and biographical criticisms of the organizations and people involved, “apparently the security guard spoke a profanity years before in Minnesota” (I read that in the paper — wow!). It frames the story as it were.

    What BarryA is getting at, IMO, is that we should NOT frame it to set it at a distance, but to let it pierce us — not just our hearts which are so easily bruised and broken, but our minds which seem all too often ready to rationalize, compartmentalize, and get nowhere . . .

    Ok, I’m done.

  31. So, I will venture a framing of the question: How do we differentiate between a “call to arms” (metaphor) and an “incitement to violence?” The difference is reflected in the two corresponding motives, each of which has its own battle cry:

    1) “We must change the law and the culture,” or

    2) “We must stop these people at all costs.”

    As a pro-life advocate, I choose method #1. I often challenge my listeners to get involved by taking after legislators and illuminating minds. My passion is real, but my methods are moderate (I hope). I would do a great many things to eliminate the scourge of abortion, but I would not take a life, nor, would I celebrate an abortionists’ death. Never do I argue that the means justifies the ends, even when I am absolutely sure that I am absolutely right. Does that make me a saint? Of course not. I am simply trying to temper my outrage with a sense of responsible social action. It is my moral obligation to consider the possible repercussions of what I say.
    Does Christopher Hitchens take that tack? I don’t think so. When Jerry Falwell died, he not only celebrated the event, he said. “If there is a hell, Falwell deserves to be there.” In fact, it was clear that he hoped Falwell would be there. Nice! The message is clear: IT IS A GOOD THING WHEN MY ADVERSARY DIES! There is simply no other way to interpret his message. His contention is that Christians must be stopped—-period. From what I gather, he doesn’t scruple over the potential impact of his words on troubled minds; he exhibits no sense of proportionality.

    It is not the world view that offends; it is the radicalization of a world view. To be an militant atheist is to smear your Christian adversary in a militant way—-to equate Christian evangelization with Islamic terrorism— to mischaracterize the art of persuasion as a “hate crime”—to treat the marginal fundamentalist as representative of the whole—–anything to create an environment of hostility. Their favorite technique is to fill the young with rage by telling them that Christians promote sexual repression and seek to establish an oppressive theocracy and are, therefore, a clear and present danger to the social order. In other words, they lie.

    To sum up:

    #1 to persuade is to appeal to noble motives.

    #2 to instigate is to appeal to base motives.

    Insofar as militant atheists are engaging in the latter, I agree with .Barry A

  32. Weren’t the Nazis publishing anti-Jew propaganda, forming the “intellectual climate” that led to such horrific injustice against the Jews, including their mass murder?

  33. Stephenb,

    “IT IS A GOOD THING WHEN MY ADVERSARY DIES! There is simply no other way to interpret his message. His contention is that Christians must be stopped—-period.”

    HAHAHAHHAHAHA! (laughing with you)

    Your right, B. These people display no sense of proportionality.

  34. It baffles me how Dawkins seems so hell-bent on this mission of his to show the world that their lives are meaningless, as if he thinks he’s doing them a favor.

  35. test

  36. Specs et al

    I have a confession. I am a plagirist. Only 7 words or so in post 16 were my own. Here’s the true author.

    “Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. . . . This would apply to less atheists that I know than to other groups I know.

    I beg to differ entirely. Anyway, it certainly seems atheism can provide one with the false courage to commit murder suicide.

    KF — well said as always.

  37. We also learnt that stringent gun control continues to save lives. It doesn’t stop killing, but certainly halts massacres

    What stopped a massacre in this case was a privately owned handgun used by a private citizen.

    Gun laws here were stricter 20 years ago, and violent crime — including murder — was worse.

  38. Frost –why am i getting “slow down”
    when i havent posted in 48 hours?

    I got them all afternoon. It drove me nuts. I couldn’t post at all.

  39. I got them [slow down messages] all afternoon. It drove me nuts. I couldn’t post at all.

    Same here.

    Thanks for pointing out to our Aussie guest what brought the murdering to a screeching halt, tribune7.

    In my opinion, the young man in question here had two main problems:

    1) He was not maturing.

    Twenty four years old, living under your parents’ roof with too much time on your hands (most likely underemployed) is not the path to fulfillment and happiness.

    There were some serious issues there that were obviously not being dealt with, by both the parents and the son.

    2) His misery was multiplied by the “power” of the Internet.

    The best thing about the Internet is also the most dangerous thing about it. It allows those people of like mind to communicate more easily and quickly. It can also shield those same people from differing opinions, which normally act as a check against antisocial thoughts and behaviors.

    Instead of finding others who could help him mature and overcome his hate, he was constantly in contact with people who reinforced his ill will and feelings of victimization.

    Finally, he did something he thought was empowering, something that would give him the recognition he craved and felt he deserved.

  40. Ill tell you what if i keep getting these slow down messages ill stop posting on this site at all. Its getting rediculous and i work hand on my posts like #31 trying to say somthing creative. If this is an error I hope they will say so cause if im being treated differntly ill just quit.

  41. tribune7, thanks I hope we aren’t being left out because were “special”

    As for the gun control- It would bring down murders if you got rid of all the guns but you’d have people getting murdered who other wise could have protected themselves and people getting locked up because they don’t agree with moral president. You know I’m in favor of people having guns… not AK47′s – but hand guns for one reason

    If I got killed but had a chance to protect myself well I could live with that-

    But if someone killed me and the government NEVER even gave me a chance! Well, Id be really pissed off ;)

  42. tribune7

    What *started* the massacre in this case was a privately held assault rifle and handguns.

    Wouldn’t it be better to have taken those out of the equation?

    That Jeanne Assam was able to stop Murray was unbelievably brave, justifiable and fortunate that she was armed. But, coming again from a non-U.S position, I note that she volunteers, with others, at the church as well-armed ‘security guards’.

    Security guards at the church!

    Whilst, as clearly as I can infer, the service is being undertaken?!?

    Isn’t that ringing any bells? Needing guns to stop the people WITH guns at churches! I am sure non-U.S. readers picked up on this immediately. Have any U.S. readers thought this through (not the immediacy of the act, but the institualisation of this concept?)

    56 people were killed in Australia in 2004 due to firearms. 11 344 were murdered in the US in the same year. Gun control is in effect in Australia, yet in the US …

    To your ‘Gun laws here were stricter 20 years ago …’, well you can still own and use semi-automatic guns as long as it doesn’t have MULTIPLE assault weapon features. Before you could seemingly have machine guns, but now you will only will be shot with semi-automatic firearms that fire only as rapidly as you can twitch your finger. That certainly is progress.

    I am confident that those 11 344 U.S. dead (and approximately 80 000 annually injured) are quite content in the knowledge that gun crime is getting better.

    Murray has, unfortunately, added to these figures. His motivation was able to be fulfilled by the availablility of legal firearms. A tragedy was able to be significantly averted through common sense and legislation, yet obviously it is too hard to tackle (yet) in the U.S.

  43. Patrick and Barry,

    Thanks for your comments (#26, and the Addition at the top) on my previous angry post (#17). Your points are taken.

    I’ll change my chastisement of Barry from “shut the hell up” to a more polite “counselor, please put a sock in it because you’re hurting the debate against atheism”.

    Look, the point of my post is that if we IDists are putting Darwin on trial, then some personal insinuations are simply out of bounds unless very strong evidence exists to support them. In this case the Darwinian camp would be perfectly right to say, “Your honor, I object to this line of questioning. It is inflammatory!” I objected for them. I think a fair judge would say “objection sustained” to Barry’s line of questioning.

    If the killer Murray were found to be a Christian ID supporter (and who knows, he or the next one might be), and the Darwinists insinuated that it was the fault of Johnson and Dembski with no direct compelling evidence, would we rightly object? You bet we would.

    It is certainly worth arguing that atheism leads to a lethal culture of death. I think it does, and D’Souza’s recent very civil debates with atheists are good examples of that argument. But D’Souza argues against the “intellectual climate” (as Barry puts it) not the integrity of the person he is debating. If you’ve seen these debates you will note that he actually won them, and my belief is that he has changed the minds of many students in the audiences. Take some time to look at the debates again and ask yourself how and why it is that he won them.

    But what if D’Souza had pointed at, say, Hitchens during a debate and asked the audience if the man personally carried blame for Pol Pot’s crimes? What if he’d taken the equivalent low road of the opposition and just personally made his opponents out to be a bunch of Hitlers? What good would that do, what minds would be changed, and wouldn’t you find it objectionable? I hope so.

    Whenever one of these tragedies occur, too many people immediately start grinding axes. Dennis Miller has stated it’s best to have at a one week waiting period before beginning speculative comments. It’s a good idea.

  44. All:

    Generally excellent discussion.

    It is very clear that we need to heed the underlying point made by Aristotle 2300+ years ago, in Bk 1 Ch 2 of his classic manual on the art of persuasion The Rhetoric:

    Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker [ethos]; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind [pathos]; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [logos]. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible . . . Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile . . . Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question . . . .

    There it is, in so many words:

    Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile . . .

    In short, words can drive us mad with rage and even hate. Or, as an even wiser man observed some 700 years before Aristotle spoke:

    PR 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death,and those who love it will eat its fruit.

    Therefore, we need to pause, rethink a lot of things that go on without question or are even celebrated in our civilisation. But, are Mr Dawkins, Mr Dennett, Mr Hitchens, Mr Pullman, Mr Hines, Times-Warner’s New Line Cinema et al even listening?

    And, if they are not, what can and should we — as a culture — do about the poison they insistently circulate?

    Now also, pausing on a point or two:

    1] Frost, 31: What is it about the west and Christianity that dwells up so much hatred?

    Good question. I could answer by pointing out that one man’s call to reformation is another man’s rebuke and call to resentful opposition. And Jesus, in saying that we should not think he came to bring peace but a sword, said as much he knew that what he said and did would stir up hate and lashing out. Speaking truth to power has consequences — it can be very dangerous to your health indeed.

    Especially, if you expose the hypocrisies and injustices of those whose power base depends on their being perceived as being good, decent, upright, brilliant, just and wise.

    So, a careful reading of the Gospels is an exercise in seeing how a call to reformation led to rising opposition then hate and scheming, then a Kangaroo court, and finally judicial murder — in this case, duly done by those operating under the colours of a religious governing authority. Indeed, one way to read the Gospels is as in part a protest — not against Jews as a people [3 of 4 were written by Jews, and Jesus' core followers were all Jews! Notice too the subtext of the clashes between the Galilean [commercially-based "Red" state] and the educated and sophisticated Judaean city-based elites ["Blue" state]] — a rebuke to corrupt power and its underlying ideological justification and rhetoric.

    In short, we are looking here at a very HUMAN problem: sin, and what happens when sinners hold unaccountable power.

    (NB: When Lord Acton wrote that “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely; Great men are bad men” he was writing of the Renaissance era popes, heading the institution that was supposedly based on the Gospel ethics of Jesus. What a sad and telling irony! And, of course, the past 100 or so years have shown beyond rational denial, that secularist regimes have in turn been even more bloody than the Christian or pagan predecessors. Sin is the constant; all that has changed is that technical progress gives us ever greater power to be destructive . . .)

    And THAT, BTW, is why it is so important to look unflinchingly at this and other related problems as we have in recent days.

    2] To claim as Dawkins does that the essence of Christianity is to hate people unlike yourself is to misrepresent its point. Dawkins confuses the battles of men with the message of the bible . . . Even Gandhi demonstrated against the evils of war- even though his political intervention lead to millions of deaths.

    First: Pullman, not Dawkins.

    The point on Gandhi underscores the above.

    For, here, a Hindu reformer — who BTW drew stinging and telling contrasts between the formal Biblical religiosity of the British imperialist rulers of India and their behaviour — in turn was assassinated by a fanatic of his own religion, and found himself caught up in a swirl of massive violence as India moved to independence and partition along religious lines.

    Today, the hate revealed in that hostility reveals itself in the nuclear armed cold war between India and Pakistan.

    Oh, how our hearts and deeds should shame us all and lead us to penitence and reformation!

    But, the very call to repentance and reformation is itself an occasion to resentful hostility and even violence. Even, among the circle of would-be reformers.

    Solzhenitsyn said it well when he pointed out that the line between good and evil does not pass between men and nations, but right through the individual human heart.

    So, let us each and all first contemplate the plank in our own eyes first,t hen see how its removal helps us as we set out on helping our brothers and sisters with the sawdust in their eyes . . . .

    BTW, this parable of Jesus is itself pregnant with social critique: it is the man on top of the saw-pit who was most likely to be annoyed over the natural enough reactions of the one down in the pit under the log trying to dodge the sawdust thrown out by the very act of sawing. No prizes for guessing which job usually went tot he junior man. We fault-finders and would-be fault menders should remember that we, too are just as flawed.

    OUCH! (Not: “Amen.”)

    GEM of TKI

  45. PS: Here is an excerpt, from Bernard Lewis in his famous Sept 1990 Atlantic Monthly piece on the roots of Muslim rage, on the commonplace resentment against the West, especially in that period when it was known as Christendom:

    . . . revulsion against America, more generally against the West, is by no means limited to the Muslim world . . . . The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in
    patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty — not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst . . . .

    Slavery is today universally denounced as an offense against humanity, but within living memory it has been practiced and even defended as a necessary institution, established and regulated by divine law [A subtle allusion to the fact that slavery was officially abolished in the Islamic theocracy of Saudi Arabia only in 1962]. The peculiarity of the peculiar institution, as Americans once called it, lay not in its existence but in its abolition. Westerners were the first to break the consensus of acceptance and to outlaw slavery, first at home, then in the other territories they controlled, and finally wherever in the world they were able to exercise power or influence — in a word, by means of imperialism . .
    . .

    In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy
    these historic diseases.
    [Ironically, Mr Lewis here omits the major role played by Gospel ethics motivated Christians in the relevant reformation movements.]

    In short, there are two sides to every story, and it is important that we seek that state of balance that is the true opposite to all extremes.

    OUCH, again.

  46. I just find it weird that people even think religious people are so terrible. Have you ever tried to invite a “bible thumper” to get drunk? Aren’t they known as the party poopers because they have this strict code of ethics. BEcause on weekends they would rather go to saturday night church than cause trouble? These church sessions are terrible, they sing songs, tell stories. What hooligans! When I think of “religious” people, I think of a church full of sweet old ladies. To think these people are bad terrible people. Ooh man, I am laughing because I just immagined an old lady after church going out in her church cloths and doing a drive by. Come on people haha

  47. Stuart Harris writes: “If the killer Murray were found to be a Christian ID supporter (and who knows, he or the next one might be), and the Darwinists insinuated that it was the fault of Johnson and Dembski with no direct compelling evidence, would we rightly object?”

    Stuart, you are missing the point. To your example, they would be wrong and we would have every right to object, because Dembski and Johnson have not fomented hatred or intolerance against atheists.

    You misunderstand. I am not making debating points. My post is not directed at “atheism.” It is directed at particular atheists for their contribution to the climate of hatred and antagonism against people of faith. I am not debating the merits of atheism vs. theism, so the D’Sousa/Dawkins debate example is not germane.

    If I am not debating what am I doing? I am making a moral observation. When men like Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens spew hate and intolerance someone must stand up and call them on it, and that is my purpose in this post. I’m using this soapbox to tell the world that it is evil to say people you disagree with should be put in cages. It is evil to say that people who have a different point of view are insane, stupid or wicked. It is evil to say that religious people, the vast majority of whom are doing the best they can to be good neighbors and citizens, are a poison to our society. We have an obligation to stand up and point at people who have done evil things and say, “What you have done is evil; you should be ashamed.”

    Mr. Stuart, if you disagree it must be for one of two reasons: (1) you don’t think these things are evil; or (2) when people do evil things they should not be called on it and shamed. In either event you are wrong.

  48. Barry,

    I’m in my early fifties and spent the first four decades of my life as an atheist.

    Here at UD, we talk amongst ourselves an awful lot. Bill throws a jab at some anti-ID article he’s read, and Denyse a hook at some atheist speaker she heard – and then repeat it all the next day. If that’s the feel-good purpose of this site, well, I guess that’s OK. Perhaps it serves to strengthen one’s own convictions and erase personal doubts.

    But if we want to advance the debate and really change people’s minds, I can tell you from personal experience that directing shots at particular atheists just isn’t going to do it. It’s navel gazing. We may score some pats on the back from those already on our side, but we’ll do nothing for those who aren’t. In fact we’ll harden them, make them all the more intransigent and make ourselves look worse to the third group: the audience that wants to listen to the debate and is willing to be convinced by positive arguments.

    I’ve noticed a degradation of the ID movement in the past few years. The Discovery Institute and many of the blogs have taken on such a reactive and defensive tone. There’s no need for this. I hope it can return to the more proactive mode of discovery it had in the ‘90’s and early 2000’s.

  49. I suspect the climate that Dawkins et al. are attempting to create is similar to that created by Hitler: blame the Jews (Christians, and other religions) for all the world’s problems.

    I’m not suggesting that Dawkins et al. would put us all in gas chambers at their first chance — well actually, from their rhetoric and their desired utopia, why would I not suspect that that???

    If these atheists create a cultural climate where Christianity is to blame for everything, what would we expect to happen when something goes wrong, and some young person lashes out against the apparent enemy.

    Quite honestly, I relish the chance to debate atheists, and encourage them to challenge my beliefs, but these new atheists are over the top into hate-speech land. Perhaps the best way to shut them up is to beat the figurative snot out of them in every debate and show how wrong they are.

  50. So here’s what we know: Matthew Murray was raised in “a deeply religious family” and was home-schooled. He had a history of mental instability to the point that he was rejected as a missionary by Youth With a Mission, where the shootings began.

    Here’s what we don’t know: that Murray had even ever heard of Dawkins, Dennett or Hitchens. Murray’s rants are readily available on the web, so have a look for yourselves.

    Indeed, “thinking people ask questions”. Perhaps the question to ask here is ‘does a repressive hyper-religious upbringing increase the chances of destructive behavior?’ Just asking!

  51. Thanks Kairos, I meant Pullman but I suppose Dawkins has said similar things as well because people like him do not root their intellectualism in a search for truth but instead its enemy, demagoguery.

    The point on Gandhi was that as a human being he was caught up in a great political war- one that spilled much blood and that even though he viewed himself as right he was not able to accomplish what Christ did- for Christ was not about stopping man from war- he did not stand in their way in a desperate act of protest- he allowed them to destroy him in front of everyone for no reason at all except “to show the world the lunacy of its hate“- Christ’s death was brilliant, pointed and inspiring while Gandhi’s was tragic

    The brilliant mind of George Orwell put all of this into the greatest perspective when he said

    “A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.”

    Christ’s death was not tragic because it resulted in all things becoming new and brought hope to man kind. Gandhi’s death was tragic because it was a political death one of this earth- he was destroyed by forces less noble than the message he carried. Christ really didn’t die- and therefore was not destroyed but brought to life- Gandhi will be forgotten about except for in intellectual circles while Jesus has been the protagonist in the highest selling book of all time.

    The underling meaning of my post at 31 is that Jesus lived through the evil of the world while Gandhi validated man hopelessness. In this sense it is the utter blatancy that the Christian haters display that helps to validate Christ’s word not in their destruction but in our ability to see them for what they are-

    Nazi Germany was the same- it was their blatant evil that lead to their destruction-

    or as Hegel once said in his encyclopedia -

    “In politics, it is well known how prone the extremes are… we find the consciousness of dialectic in these universally familiar proverbs; pride goes before the fall; too much wit outwits itself.”

    It is the divinity of Christ’s peace that made itself known through the evil of human action-

    It is the blatancy of these demagogues that makes their defeat easy- if they were more clever and insidious they would try to sell their hatred with small steps and false friendliness, but they have not read their Art of War-

    Finally, I would like to quote Robert Browning (one of the greatest minds of all time) who understood man’s absolute need for correction enlightenment, insight, and virtue-

    “That’s all we can expect of man, this side of the grave; his good is knowing he is bad.”

    We should feel blessed that Dawkins and his side are so easily distinguishable from the truth.

  52. because Dembski and Johnson have not fomented hatred or intolerance against atheists.

    Barry, this very site is a running polemic against atheists. The About Us page blames them for “subverting” and “corrupting” the study of origins and using science “illegitimately to promote a materialistic worldview.” Allusions (and sometimes even direct comparisons) to Nazi’s, Lenin, and Stalin abound. That is hardly a big ole friendly bear hug for atheists, now is it?

    Is the language around here as directly confrontational as that of Hitchens and Dawkins? Well, no. But I always get the impression that such argumentation lies just below the surface. Rather than having the conviction to come out and say what y’all really think, it is couched in the plausible deniability of “interesting questions.” Am I right about that? Maybe not, but it is an interesting question.

    An article in today’s Denver Post paints a picture of a youth probably suffering from schizophrenia and reports that he wrote of his feelings of rejection as a motive in his twisted actions. As I have stated above, this boy grew up in a religious family, was homeschooled in that tradition, and attended the YWAM missionary training program. His life was steeped in religion. To suggest that the purple prose of two atheist wags is responsible is not an interesting question. It is an irresponsible question.

    There is a person very precious to me who has struggled all their life with clinical depression. Some 5 or 6 years ago, this person was born again and the ensuing years marked their deepest struggle with the depression. It is my observation that, as a whole, the Christian community does not deal with mental illness well. This person was told that their problems were because they were not trusting, and letting go to, God. They could pray their way to health. It was the absolute worst advice possible. Many mental illnesses, like depression and schizophrenia, have a strong component of brain chemistry. It wasn’t until I urged this person to talk to a very specific Christian counselor, who then referred them to a very specific Christian psychiatrist that they were able to stabilize the depression with medication. Their faith in God survived the ordeal of the last few years. Their faith in the religious community, however, did not. There are some things you can’t pray your way out of.

    So, there it is. Now, Barry, you know why I challenge you (and Denyse) so hard on your exploitation of the shootings in Finland and Colorado. By taking the easy route of asking “interesting questions” about the environment created by the statements of irrascible atheists, you are avoiding the difficult questions about whether your community is doing all it can to minister to it’s troubled members.

  53. StuartHarris, It is important to point out where people are wrong. That is the essence of my posts at 31 and 52. I agree you don’t lower yourself to their level but to talk about evil as if it is the same as good is to fall victim to the Devil’s greatest trick- convincing man that he does not exist. This sight is for entertainment purposes, it is a place where ID advocates can speak to one another with out government disruption, it is a place for ideas to be heard and all things related to ID to be discussed. The writer for this site are ID advocates so of course their minds are already made up. Its not a pat on the back to call it like you see it. And I remind you that in a hostile climate one must defend itself- for ever little jab we take at DE their is a bomb going off on ID. To convince people in this world of anything you have to stand up for what you believe in, win, loose or draw. No one at this site hates Darwinian Evolutionists- but we do feel that they have hijacked our courts and institutions and in this county change requires action. Not hate, not war but action through words-

    Sticks and stones – stuart.

  54. What *started* the massacre in this case was a privately held assault rifle and handguns. . . .Wouldn’t it be better to have taken those out of the equation?

    Once upon a time they were. Were things more or less violent before the 14th century? Were there more or fewer massacres?

    Have societies that prohibited private ownership of firearms a greater or less level of fear and tension?

    You say a gun ban has worked in Australia and that’s fine but here the places with the strictest gun laws have generally been the most dangerous — and the danger has generally increased with the restrictions.

    And America is really not all that dangerous a place to live. And the dangerous places have much less to do with access to firearms than bad cultural messages — as Barry implies, albeit not just evangelical atheism although always anti-Christian.

    If we were to return Bible readings and prayer to our public schools — as they were for most of our history — I’m convinced violence would drop exponentially more than with any action with regard to guns.

    But for some reason certain influential powers here don’t want to consider that solution but advocate restrictions on individual freedom and the ability to defend oneself.

    And I don’t know if you’ve ever picked up on this but the same crowd here thad advocates gun bans leaves loopholes for they (or their security people) to have access to guns.

  55. Stuart — If the killer Murray were found to be a Christian ID supporter (and who knows, he or the next one might be), and the Darwinists insinuated that it was the fault of Johnson and Dembski with no direct compelling evidence, would we rightly object?

    Stuart, you make a good point, but I’d like to make one in return: No Christian ID supporter has been involved with committing a massacre.

    Atheists/vehement anti-Christians, meanwhile, seem to make them rather frequently. Auvinen, Harris, Klebold, and, yes, Timothy McVeigh, were atheists.

    In fact, Auvinen and Harris proudly proclaimed their belief in Darwinism.

    It is not wrong or impolite to point out this correlation. Actually, it would be wrong not to.

  56. Specs — It is my observation that, as a whole, the Christian community does not deal with mental illness well.

    Specs this is a fair point and I’m inclined to agree, but don’t you think media messages and cultural environment might influence a person suffering from emotional instability to do acts of great wrong (or take action that would benefit themselves and others) , and can’t you see that Barry (and others) have an obligation to point this out?

  57. but don’t you think media messages and cultural environment might influence a person suffering from emotional instability to do acts of great wrong (or take action that would benefit themselves and others) , and can’t you see that Barry (and others) have an obligation to point this out?

    Two comments. First, there is little evidence that the the “media” and “culture” are what drove Matthew Murray’s actions. Since Barry and Denyse previously suggested we should look to the writings of the “anti-social Social Darwinist” that perpetrated the shooting last month in Finland for his motivation, why shouldn’t we do the same here? Should we ignore that he wrote of his feelings of rejection by the community of believers just because we don’t like where the evidence leads? Just as it is easier to blame the atheists rather than look in the mirror of our own guilt, so is it a cop-out to blame the media or the culture.

    Second, even if the media or culture did bear some culpability (an idea that, prima facie, I reject), what do you propose? Anti-blasphemy laws? Extending hate speech laws to cover religion and the religious? Hate speech laws have rightfully been challenged by the conservative community. How ironic that the same community would potentially employee the same hammer when it’s ox is being gored.

    No, the solution lies within the Christian community accepting that it may have failed one of it’s own. It comes from accepting that maybe those horrid materialist scientists may have something to contribute to the treatment of mental illness.. It comes from putting aside the cudgel of the cultural warrior and looking for ways to strengthen the faith (and mental health) off the lost souls within your own community.

  58. AussieID

    Are any of the statistics surrounding gun control in Australia wrong in any significant measure?

    http://www.aapsonline.org/jpan.....comm8.html

    If not then it appears so-called gun control did nothing for Australia except to increase all classes of violent and property crimes. Your comment strongly implies that Australia had a higher homicide rate before gun control measures were implimented but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Australia’s homicide rate was low to begin with and increased significantly (but it’s still low) after Draconian gun control laws were passed in the mid-1990′s.

    America’s gun situation is different. While Australia has 7 million guns in circulation the US has hundreds of millions of them and the right to private ownership is constitutionally protected. We already have strict laws that prohibit using guns in the commission of crimes. It should be obvious that criminals don’t obey the law. Criminalizing guns will not prevent criminals from owning them and with hundreds of millions in circulation and a constitutional protection on ownership no confiscation program would ever be tolerated. We can’t even get everyone to agree that it’s okay to search a suspected terrorist’s home or eavesdrop on communications without a search warrant to say nothing of invading the homes of otherwise law-abiding citizens to see if they gave up their guns. Draconian gun laws, speculatively in my country and evidently in yours, do nothing to save lives and only serve to embolden criminals who know that there is less likelyhood that potential victims would offer armed resistance. Gun control advocates seldom if ever consider the number of crimes prevented due to the spectre of being shot dead by their potential victims. We here in Texas passed a law allowing anyone to easily obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon around the same time Australia passed its Draconian gun controls. None of the results feared by gun control advocates came to pass in Texas. There was no increase whatsoever in handgun related crime.

  59. Specs — First, there is little evidence that the the “media” and “culture” are what drove Matthew Murray’s actions.

    Wait a minute. You have widespread preaching of hatred of Christianity. You have it given sympathetic treatment by major media — a $180 million movie was just released based on a book written by a man who said his goal is to kill God, for instance — and you think it is unfair to go hmmmm?

    what do you propose? Anti-blasphemy laws?

    How about confronting it in the arena of ideas? The first step, of course, would to be ask the question whether this activity does incite hatred.

    But even then some will feel obliged to get on their high horse and object, right?

  60. Specs,
    A few things, 1st I wanted to say sorry that your loved one had to go through such an ordeal. I have been to many Christian Churches, and my brother has similar symptoms, they did first suggest looking to God for an answer, but by all means they supported if you feel that medication is the best direction then go for it, and no harsh feelings, but it never hurts to pray!

    I like to think of the popular story where the guy sits around hoping God will help him get somewhere, they send 3 busses to pick him up and he says “No thanks God will come and get me” when he dies he asks God “Why didn’t you come get me?” God replies “You dummy I sent 3 vehicals out to get you.”

    There was 1 thing you said that did bother me especially because I a a special education major and have read quite a bit on the subject. You said “It is my observation that, as a whole, the Christian community does not deal with mental illness well.” It is funny that you say that because Reading about the history if individuals with disabilities, that statement is nearly the opposite of what happend. It was actually Christians who were the first to realize that these people had souls and should be treated with care and respect. There was even a famous quote that I cant remember who but they said “Would you lead a blind man into a wall”. They have done alot to help the public to realize these are good people who need our help. If you don’t believe me check out the book “Learners with Mild Disabilities: A Characteristics Approach” second edition. On page 29 begins to talk about it.

    Also, the book even talks about eugenics. Funny how Christians wanted to treat people, and then a long time after these darwin supporters were pushing Eugenics. I just think it is unfair to say that Christians don’t know to treat these people.

  61. specs, you like to make moral equivalence arguments. Such arguments are particularly unimpressive to me. I remember the 70′s and 80′s when we heard all the time “the Soviets are just people like us; who are we to get on our moral high horse?” Blithering nonsense. We did not kill millions of our own citizens. We did not have a gulag, etc. etc.

    The question in this post is whether it is irresponsible for atheists to foment hatred, antagonism or intolerance of religious people. The answer to that question is most decidedly not, “well Christians can be bad people too.”

  62. I find it strangely entertaining that the favored response of choice among some here is ‘Well, if you’re going to ask that, I’m going to ask a question you may not like!’

    Maybe the ‘very religious’ upbringing the shooter supposedly had contributed to the shooting?

    Maybe the Christian community he was dealing with didn’t handle him well?

    All that, and counter-questions: What if he was a big ID proponent? What if he was a Christian? Would it be fair to ask questions like this then?

    And I have to say, my own response is: Sure, let’s discuss all this, including the question in the OP. I think the discussion can only be productive, and I don’t see any reason to be intimidated by questions. If they’re ill-intended and pointless or divisive, they’ll be recognized as such, no matter the source.

    I can relate to Stuart Harris’ comments in a way – I see no need to make baseless allegations against particular atheists, or stereotype all atheists. But I honestly don’t see that happening here. Asking what kind of culture is being promoted by a particular prominent wing of atheists is a question worth probing. I find it no more distasteful to say ‘What (given atheist) is saying here, the attitude and culture and mindset they promote, is wrong’ than to say that same thing about Westboro Baptist’s leadership, or any other group, Christian or not, if warranted.

    Certainly, in this thread, we see plenty of criticism of theist culture. And for the record, from First Things and EWTN to FAIR LDS, I see constantly questioning, suggestion, and criticism of theist communities by their own adherents online. The idea that this doesn’t happen – and that christians all condemn those evil ‘materialist’ doctors and their fancy medicine – is a joke. And the idea that it’s wrong to, in the face of tragedy, wonder what effect an associated culture had or didn’t have.. I can only say I think such a view is wrong-headed, to say the least.

  63. You make several very good points nullasalus.

  64. specs, you like to make moral equivalence arguments.

    No Barry, I am not trying to draw moral equivalences. It is pretty clear that you are not picking up on what I am trying to say. While I suspect that doing so will make this my last comment here, let me make my point less subtlely because I think it is an important point.

    A month ago, a troubled Finnish youth calling himself a “anti-social Social Darwinist” goes on a killing spree and the response here is to point blame at Darwinists / materialists / atheists. Now, several days ago, a troubled youth in Colorado (one who’s life was
    characterized by devout religious upbringing and education) goes on a killing spree and your response is to ask whether the Darwinists / materialists / atheists are to blame. My point is that, no matter what the circumstances, your answer is always the same. One of the other posters here said earlier in this thread that atheism is dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Well, all I can say is “Doctor, heal thyself.” You are so sure that atheism is to blame that you are completely unwilling to ask if the religious community could do more to help people with mental illnesses. (Nota bene: That isn’t solely a condemnation of the religious community. Society at large doesn’t deal with mental illness well.)

    I saw my loved one try to pray their way out of depression because that is what religious leaders said they should do. But, they weren’t there with me to pick up the pieces when that didn’t work. I was the one who had to deal with the raw, unadulterated grief and suicidal thoughts. I was the one to force them to go to the counselor and to the pyschiatrist and to the pharmacist. I am thankful that there are Christians that understand mental illness is as much a physical as spiritual disease. You, Barry, are not one of them. You look at everything through your lense of the culture war. No tragedy exists that can’t be exploited to that end. Any circumstances that are inconvenient to your narrative are just swept under the carpet because, by golly, their are atheists to fight.

    So, go ahead and continue to fight your culture war. There is, after all, no glory in the private struggles with mental illness. As for me? I’ll forgo all that glory just to see my loved one smile again. It would be good for influential people like yourself to humbly address the issue of mental illness. But, I am not counting on it. There are bigger fish to fry, aren’t there?

  65. Specs,
    I have been constantly Checking this post to see if you would reply to my post! Please do see it, it is #62, I am curious to hear your response. For the record I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do about Christianity! I do think in my analogy you are “the bus” that God could have sent to save your brother. I hope that doesnt sound like I am taking away your love for your brother! You sound like a rad dude for doing what you did for him!

  66. specs,

    Barry, this very site is a running polemic against atheists. The About Us page blames them for “subverting” and “corrupting” the study of origins and using science “illegitimately to promote a materialistic worldview.” Allusions (and sometimes even direct comparisons) to Nazi’s, Lenin, and Stalin abound. That is hardly a big ole friendly bear hug for atheists, now is it

    Specs, no one here is out to get atheists. I have argued extensively about how atheism in the extreme (I call it dogmatic atheism) is not consistent with ID and I met with considerable backlash by the ID community because they welcome atheists. The talk about subversion has nothing to do with ones belief in God. It has to do with the political beliefs of people who it just so happens are largely atheistic. To talk about “Black crime in the cities” is not to be a raciest it’s an empirical reality. You can love Black people and realize that there is a lot of black crime at the same time. So lets separate the accusations and name calling from the facts.

    If you think that you can simply use a definition like DE that accounts for so little about evolution and is forced to use terms like “randomness” to support is scientifically irrelevant philosophical bias then you will meet with discontent especially when you are forwarding that agenda with taxpayers money. This is a critique of extreme “leftism” reminiscent of soviet Russian philosophy of Marx. No on is calling Dawkins a Nazi but when one is propagandizing t is fair to point out the logical extremes that can result from such an ideology if left unchecked. Instutional state run anything is by and large bad because it has no market to check and balance it. UD has an audience that wants to partake in its discussions but there are no Darwinian Evolution websites where people avidly talk about how great Darwin is. The ones that exist end up resulting in the unavoidable debate between science and religion which would not exist if ID was taught in school as a competing theory. In fact the threat that ID has placed on the intuitions of education and the like has resulted in DE web blogs that are nothing more then anti-ID sites. No one is going to spend their intellectual energy during their free time on a site that is about hw DE can be taken to the next level or how great it is. The reason is that it has lead us down a blind ally. I suggest instead of viewing us as atheist bashers you should understand our concerns about those who reject ID not because its unscientific but because it challenges their atheistic world view. ID needs diversity of views if it is ever going to be accepted by the mainstream. In politics you better have a big tent cause life aint perfect. You can believe in god but you have no right to subvert a theory just because it might strengthen an atheistic world view and likewise there is no reason to subvert a theory that might strengthen ones belief in God. We can unite under the search for scientific knowledge and truth but one side is completely committed to preventing this from ever happening.

  67. Gore, in short, I don’t blame Christianity, per se. In many ways, my loved ones walk since being born again has had many positive impacts. And I am thankful for that. What I am faulting here is the apparent need to blame atheists for every ill, regardless of the circumstances. The evidence in this case leads to a mentally ill individual who felt abandoned by the Christian community. When I filter that through my personal experience watching my loved one struggle with depression, it upsets me that this tragedy is used as yet another front in the cultural confrontation of atheists rather than as an opportunity to consider how the Christian deals with mental illness.

  68. Specs,
    I respect your opion on this, and could see why you feel the way you do! Thank you for the reply!

  69. Specs writes: “No Barry, I am not trying to draw moral equivalences.”

    Then Specs writes: “Well, all I can say is ‘Doctor, heal thyself.’”

    Specs, please make up your mind.

    Specs writes: “The evidence in this case leads to a mentally ill individual who felt abandoned by the Christian community.”

    Perhaps, but the evidence also leads to a conclusion that someone taught this youth that it is “Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”

    One line of evidence does not exclude the other as you seem to believe. As I said in the OP, causation is very complex when it comes to human actions. One can rarely point to a single influence and say, “That caused X action.”

    The whole point of the OP is to ask this question: “Would the world be a better place if certain high profile atheists would temper their rhetoric?” I think the answer is obvious.

  70. —–Specs — “It is my observation that, as a whole, the Christian community does not deal with mental illness well.”

    You are comparing extemist Christians with mainstraim atheists. To be sure, Christians who do not take advantage of modern medicine are problematic, as are atheists who rely on it exclusively (a factor you conveniently left out).

    However, for every Christian who fails to avail themselves of needed medication, I can point to ten atheists who impose that same medication when it is not needed.
    In both cases, the potential for violence escalates.

    The problem is that you are using an admittedly tragic anecdotal situation to counter a statistically established trend.

    The typical atheist is a materialist and does not, therefore, look for non-materialist answers, discounting 1) The non-material mind that usually (not always) has the power to overrule the brains impulses and 2) the non- material God who is perceived to offer outside help.

    The mainstream Chrisitian acknowledges both the reality of the mind and the brain and therefore will be open to both non-material solutions (God–power of the mind) and material solutions (medication). Thus, the Christian community you allude to is not typical and should have been factored into the discussion except as an anonomaly.

    Christians have three resources –God, mind, and, when needed, medicine; atheists have one resource (medicine), needed or not. Christians know that God and mind will usually, not always, do the trick, but when it doesn’t they are open to the alternative. Atheists suspect that only medicine will help and are much more vulnerable to using it as a first and not a last resort.

  71. Specs, you missed the irony

    Indeed, I did. Well played, sir, well played. ;)

  72. Well, it seems I haven’t been shown the door yet, so let me respond.

    Perhaps, but the evidence also leads to a conclusion that someone taught this youth that it is “Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”

    My experience with mental illness is that the sufferer has a very hard time seeing beyond their own pain. It isn’t that they aren’t capable of wider empathy, it is just that their pain is so all-consuming to not allow it. You may find it satisfying to launch a shot across Dawkin’s bow, but given the inward focus of mental illness, I tend to look for more proximate issues. So, when I read that statement I see someone saying that Christians are to blame for most of his problems. And when I read that Murray was dropped from the Youth With a Mission program a piece of the puzzle falls into place. He sees himself as abandoned and that as the cause of his problems. Now, I would never lay that blame at YWAM’s feet, but mental illness doesn’t work rationally. Oh, if only it did……

    One line of evidence does not exclude the other as you seem to believe.

    Of course not. But what is the evidence upon which to base your “interesting question”? You seem to feel there is this (metaphor alert!) free-floating Dawkins demon that is completely impervious to the countervailing influence of the people and institutions that come into contact with people like Matthew Murray on a daily basis. I find that notion ridiculous. It has been said that when the only tool you have is a hammer, all the problems start to look a lot like nails. That is how I see this discussion.

    It seems that, around here, it is all-atheists, all-the-time. No bothersome self-analysis needed. In that sense, you are cut and sewn from the same cloth as Dawkins and Hitchens, solely focused on demonizing your foes. The only difference is that your “Cold Water Wash-Tumble Dry Low” tag is on the inside rather than the outside.

    Now, how is that for a moral equivalence?

  73. —–”In that sense, you are cut and sewn from the same cloth as Dawkins and Hitchens, solely focused on demonizing your foes. The only difference is that your “Cold Water Wash-Tumble Dry Low” tag is on the inside rather than the outside.”

    Obviously, and predictably, you missed my distinction at #33 between legitimate attempts at societal change (persuasion aimed at noble motives) and illegitimate attemps at societal change (incitement aimed at base motives)

  74. If you want a real eye opener about the violence against Christians in the United States. Google “church” and “arson” in the news. Or try “church” and “vandalism.”
    Try it on any given day of the year. You will be amazed at how many incidents there have been in only the past week. For some reason there is a black-out on this topic in the national media, most the reports you will find will be local news

  75. The more I read, the more I like MY answer (no matter how long-winded) back in #32.

    It is not that hard a question, folks,

    “Have the vituperative atheists been irresponsible in contributing to an intellectual climate that condones animosity toward religious people?”

    I said yes and offered my reasoning. Of course, I could have added that religious bigotry seems to be the one type of bigotry that gets a free pass when directed at traditional Christians.

    I also explained why I believe it is a good time to write about it. As for the complaint that this site always seems to attack materialist thought and much of its atheistic rhetoric, uh, what exactly do you expect?

    Do we really need explain that ID is consonant with theism — that on purely philosophical, nay, even logical grounds, we find strict materialism aligned with atheism?

    But I digress . . .

  76. One of the other posters here said earlier in this thread that atheism is dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Well, all I can say is “Doctor, heal thyself.”

    Specs, you missed the irony

  77. G’day DaveScot,

    That hyperlink you posted was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. It was posted by someone who has never been to Australia, stating (with authority!) about things that we don’t have and we don’t do. To correct some of the ludicrous statements the author wrote:
    • In Australia today, police can’t just enter your house and search for guns. They need a search warrant and a reason to justifiably enter. I’ve never seen nor heard this enforced on a whim. Why would you not have your guns licensed anyway?
    • Gun ownership is still allowed, but the important aspect is that you have a gun only for a real use: you are a member of a gun club and use its facilities regularly; you are a farmer; you are a professional shooter. Guns are to be locked and stored properly, and you have completed rigorous training. These are things that should be mandatory everywhere.
    • Semi-automatics are banned. Do you really need that many shots? I used to have my own guns, working with farmers and professional shooters to cull kangaroos in drought periods. We didn’t need more than one shot!
    • Crime can escalate, and crime can plateau. The answer when crime goes up is not to start arming everyone with guns: then the goodies and the baddies have them, and baddies with guns is not a good idea – take a look at the U.S! The point here is that gun related murders have lessened because the availability of legal firearms has diminished and are legal only in the hands of people who use them as a tool.
    • We don’t have ‘varmints’; the author also noted, “dingoes … wreak havoc on livestock”, but we have had a dingo fence (the longest in the world) to keep dingoes away from sheep since 1885. Obviously, the ‘wreaking’ was prior to this date, so his historical reference is a little out, eh! We have “large rats”, but nothing larger than anywhere else. We put out a rat trap to catch them, but we don’t go shooting them! Do you?
    • “Yet, hunting has become prohibitively difficult for all but a handful of Australians with private lands and the usual connections.” A handful? Our continent is as big as the U.S! Do you only have a “handful of people” with private land? If you are a farmer then you may legitimately own and use a firearm. What do you wish to hunt in Australia, anyway? Koala? A bit of Tasmanian devil? Cows? Sheep?
    • “Now, the ban on firearms and the disarmament of ordinary Australians has left criminals free to roam the countryside as they please.” I don’t remember criminals roaming the countryside at any time, apart from Ned Kelly and his gang back in the nineteenth century … but wait, they had legal firearms.
    • “Yet, the leftist Australian government has responded by passing more laws” It was the Liberal party that passed them – its contemporary in the U.S is the Republican party. That one must be a shocker to you!
    • “Licensing is difficult” – nope. Legitimate owners are allowed. Non-legitimate aren’t. Simple.
    • “The right to self-defense, like in Great Britain and Canada, is not recognized in Australia.” Yes it is. The author is again wrong.
    • “Freedom has been extinguished. A way of life has ended. Please, don’t tell me it cannot happen here!” Oh the emotion!!!!! I am still free. My life went on after I handed in my guns.

    The word Draconian is far from correct in the Australian context. I remember that the name Draco means something like ‘sharp-sighted’, but for me the outcomes of all these saddening deaths is more likely to be ‘near sighted’ when it comes to policy making and passing.

    To just one point you made, regarding Texas’ law to carry concealed weapons. I’ll quote: While handguns account for only one-third of all firearms owned in the United States, they account for more than two-thirds of all firearm-related deaths each year. A gun in the home is 4 times more likely to be involved in an unintentional shooting, 7 times more likely to be used to commit a criminal assault or homicide, and 11 times more likely to be used to attempt or commit suicide than to be used in self-defense.” – Your statistics … my statistics. Either way, if there is no gun, then there is no worries!

    I believe that contextually Americans have a world-view regarding this issue that is different to that generally of Australians and, say, New Zealanders. You appeal to your constitution. We appeal, well, to common sense. We don’t need guns to protect ourselves, and the statistics continue to prove it. Please consider that guns laws do save lives, and we in Australia (pardon the pun) are a living example. The next time a massacre or multiple shooting occurs in the States, then consider how it could have been averted. How many days until the next tragic one … I’ll start a saddening count.

  78. —–Aussie ID writes, “The answer when crime goes up is not to start arming everyone with guns: then the goodies and the baddies have them, and baddies with guns is not a good idea – take a look at the U.S! The point here is that gun related murders have lessened because the availability of legal firearms has diminished and are legal only in the hands of people who use them as a tool.”

    So your “baddies” respect gun laws do they? Our baddies don’t, and so the gun laws are irrelavant to them. I wish our baddies were more like your baddies; yours sound so—-sensitive. Our baddies have been known to break into people’s homes and commit acts of, well, you know, violence.

    —–“The right to self-defense, like in Great Britain and Canada, is not recognized in Australia.” Yes it is. The author is again wrong.

    Oh great! The good news is, “you may defend yourself.” The bad news is, ” you may not use an effective weapon.”

  79. StephenB,

    The point is the ‘baddies’ here generally haven’t the tools necessary to kill you with a gun since … they haven’t got one!

    We find a cricket bat more than effective, in not only defending ourselves but … beating the Poms ;o) (G’day to all our English readers!).

    Which recent killers in the U.S. didn’t use ‘legal’ weapons?

  80. AussieID,

    There is a negative correlation to gun ownership and crime. For the same reason no one ever goes to a shooting gallery to shoot people.

    Also, Australia may be as big as the United States but its population is no bigger than Texas.

  81. G’day Jehu,

    Yes, you are totally correct with landsize v population stats. So, to provide Australia v Texas stats, here goes:

    Australia: population 20,434,176
    killed with firearms:56

    Texas: population 23,507,783
    killed with firearms: 2564

    I also noted that in Texas in 1990, firearm-related injuries surpassed motor-vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury-related mortality. That’s awful.

    No matter how you look at it, guns are killing your citizens at such a greater rate of knots than it is the case here. As Texas stats show, similar population yet different gun laws … and doesn’t it show.

  82. —–Aussie ID: “The point is the ‘baddies’ here generally haven’t the tools necessary to kill you with a gun since … they haven’t got one!”

    No, the point is not that your baddies don’t have guns. The point is that our baddies do.

    —-”Which recent killers in the U.S. didn’t use ‘legal’ weapons?”

    Have you ever heard of drug deals? Have you ever heard of burglaries? Have you ever heard of college campus shootings? These people do not register with the government or check in with their local minister. I can’t believe you are asking these questions.

  83. By the way, as I was doing some reading today, I found an interesting quote by Sam Harris in The End of Faith.

    “The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.”

    I have to ask: Is it alright to examine claims like this critically? To ask what just what such a statement in context may justify purposefully and implicitly? What effect this may have on culture, debate, and behavior?

    Certainly if Harris was a christian writing about how atheism may be too threatening to allow its adherents to operate freely in society, there would be scores of criticisms even among christians. If it was implied that attacking atheists may be ethical, even moreso.

    But I can’t help but get the feeling that some would argue that analyzing and criticizing, certainly condemning, a statement like the one quoted would be wrong, even immoral. Why? Again, I do not understand.

  84. StephenB … I believe you are missing my major point. Our baddies used to have guns. Some obviously still do! We got rid of so many guns from the Australian public – a $500 million dollar buyback – with me included in this process – and since then, if someone wants a gun it is soooooo much more difficult to obtain one.

    I am a baddy in America: I get a gun.
    I am a baddy in Australia: I have to search harder, further and more desparately to get one, and certainly not guaranteed.

    Therefore: 56 dead in Australia v 2564 in Texas. That maths is a no-brainer!

    Yes, drugs continue to be in escalation as we copycat the U.S. But, the local kid in the town buying/selling drugs doesn’t have a gun. Yes, burglaries happen all the time in Australia, but it is at least a blessing that the boofhead coming through your window won’t have a TEC. Yes, I hear of the massacres in the States in various locations. The perpetrators seem to have ‘legal’ firearms, which they have ‘legally’ obtained. What do they use in these shootings? It always seems to be high-velocity, made-to kill-weaponry. Not some rabbit-stunner.

    Back to my original point: You’ve got guns readily available in the U.S. Your death rates are extremely high compared to similar English-speaking countries. The reason: you have no discernible gun laws and our countries do.

    Again, I believe it is a mind set issue. Come to Australia, leave your Smith and Wesson at Customs, take a walk around our country and know that no civilian is packing a gun. They are not needed, and our culture (one similar to yours in colonisation, convict ancestry, ‘wild west’ past, frontier living, servicemen fighting in the Boer War, WW1, WW2 (with the Japanese bombing Darwin, even getting submarines into Sydney Harbor), Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc.) basically leaves it as a non-issue.

    I can’t believe you don’t see these answers and the merits behind it, but I understand that your worldview is greatly shaped by the thinking around you. On this issue we are certanly a rifle shot apart!

  85. AussieID:”
    Australia: population 20,434,176
    killed with firearms:56
    Texas: population 23,507,783
    killed with firearms: 2564″

    It would be more interesting to unpack this out a bit. Like, say, how many of these deaths were actually the death of the criminal fired upon by a victim? And what are the murder rates, regardlesss of weapon, of the respective areas? And what percentage of murders in the respective areas are drug related? Etc.

    Your statistic is practically meaningless in any serious discussion about gun control.

    Please see More Guns Less Crime, and his other works and papers, by John Lott PhD.

  86. AussieId, Oh and by the way, Switzerland has almost 1/2 of the murder rate as Australia. But it has the most armed citizenry in the world.

    This is not Australia. This is the USA, with Mexico on our southern boarder, where endless supplies of drugs and guns (assault weapons made in China) flood our streets daily. Do you think the gangs here are going to abide by any more guns laws? They sure don’t abide the current ones we have.

    The issue is complex, and simply outlawing guns as you suggest here would do more harm than good for the average citizen.

  87. Therefore: 56 dead in Australia v 2564 in Texas. That maths is a no-brainer!

    Aussie — where the heck are you getting your stats from?

    It looks like there was 1,384 homicides in Texas last year (not all of which were by firearm). Note how the murder rate has dropped since “right to carry” was instituted.

    Now, suicides would take the total up, but since it would be just as easy to kill oneself with a single shot 20 gauge as with an AR15, that is not what is being discussed.

    And again you can’t leave demographics out of the mix i.e. there is one little town here — armed to the teeth — that hasn’t had a murder in 25 years.

    Guns are not the slightest problem in America.

  88. Aussie ID: Here are the numbers I have about your country after gun control measures were inacted:

    Countrywide, homicides are up 3.2 percent;

    Assaults are up 8.6 percent;

    Amazingly, armed robberies have climbed nearly 45 percent;

    In the Australian state of Victoria, gun homicides have climbed 300 percent;

    In the 25 years before the gun bans, crime in Australia had been dropping steadily;

    There has been a reported “dramatic increase” in home burglaries and assaults on the elderly.

    Also, I understand that only a small fraction of the firearms were actually confiscated. Indeed, it would appear that the increase in crime is directly proportional to the fewer number of guns.

    What does Texas have to do with that?

    The Virginia Tech campus has a strict law—-no guns allowed. Earlier this year a young man, living on campus, ignoring that law, and killed 32 people. Those about to commit murder do not generally scruple about violating an gun law.

    We have already tested your theory in a variety of contexts. Each state in our union is, in many respects, an independent source for study. There numbers show that gun control doesn’t work, and we have 50 different contexts to make our assessment—not one context as in your case. It is meaningless to compare one culture with another. Crime rates in major urban areas are racially different that those in rural areas.

    You argument fails at every level.

  89. G’day mike 1962,

    Yes, it would be an interesting proposal to look into the background and reasons for each death, but neither you nor I have that chance. The raw data reveals, though, that Americans die through the use of weapons more than us.

    That data hasn’t changed.

    trinune 7, the data I used must have been for all deaths in Texas – suicide, etc. Your data set is much better. It reveals that Texans are being killed at only a *massively greater* rate than us rather than an *incredibly, massively greater* rate than us.

    Texas Crime Index Rates Per 100,000 Inhabitants 2006: 5.9

    Australia Murder rate per 100,000 persons 2006: 1.4

    You certainly win on the averages, but that isn’t obviously a victory that you want.

    ” there is one little town here — armed to the teeth — that hasn’t had a murder in 25 years.” – maybe, and I can point you to thousands of little small towns in Australia armed with only butter knives that haven’t had a murder either.

    “Guns are not the slightest problem in America.” I am happy that is so. Please inform that to the families of the dead … there seem to be plenty to inform.

    Back to you mike1962,

    “Do you think the gangs here are going to abide by any more guns laws? They sure don’t abide the current ones we have.” No, but your ‘gun laws’ aren’t worth a toss because they are meaningless. You allow guns into public hands almost willy-nilly, and wonder why your gun deaths are considerable. Do you think that the gangs here in Australia gave up their caches? No, but every time a gun was seized, it didn’t go back into circulation and there wasn’t a replacement available down at the corner gun shop. This isn’t an overnight realisation, nor a week-long strategy. It takes time, but the end product is peace … not pieces.

    “The issue is complex, and simply outlawing guns as you suggest here would do more harm than good for the average citizen.” We had the same response at the start, and that silently calmed down. Time cools heels, and wisdom rises.

    Yes, Switzerland would seem to be an anomoly. I have been three times, and the people and peacefulness is wonderful. But there is an obvious wealth across their economy, their youth undertakes militia service in controlled environments where guns are not glorified, and their national game is ‘shooting’ where, again, orderliness reigns. Switzerland is NOT America. Switzerland is also NOT Australia. Their population is trained in a type of civic virtue that is alien, to that degree, to our countires.

    That is why they CAN have guns, and why we shouldn’t. Unless the U.S. can be more ‘Swiss’ I guess that thousands more dead will be the statistic for the US for 2007 … and 2008 … and 2009 …

  90. Just to clear that up:

    Texas Crime Index Rates for Murder Per 100,000 Inhabitants 2006: 5.9

    Australian Murder rate per 100,000 persons 2006: 1.4

  91. H’mm:

    It seems that much of the thread has focussed on: [1] gun laws and crime, [2] an issue over whether Mr Murray’s apparent behaviour is traceable to mental illness [3] a related issue as to whether one should draw a connexion between Mr Murray’s behaviour and various ideological agendas in the wider society.

    On the first, I will simply note that I come from Jamaica. Few countries have as draconian a set of gun control laws as Jamaica: legal gun ownership is quite hard to get for the average person; possession of illegal guns or even ammunition leads to long prison sentences; in praxis, on the streets, being caught by the police with a firearm in a suspicious situation is a practical death sentence – they shoot first, ask questions later (having learned the hard way just how murderous the criminals are). And yet, few countries have so pervasive a gun crime situation, and such a murder rate. Sadly, but tellingly, the non-gun crime murder rate is also exceptionally high. (My med student friends from the Eastern Caribbean also noted on how astonishingly high the incidence of domestic wounding was, as they saw it in their clerkships in Casualty.)

    In short, we can see some very relevant lessons here:

    –> Jamaica shows that socio-cultural situations have more impact on incidence of violence than any other factor

    –> It also shows just how a traditionally very Christian country can also come to have a major problem with violence, once a sub-culture of street gangs, political [often ideologically motivated] violence and drugs forms.

    –> And, a few years ago, there was a church near Kingston, which was invaded by a gun man who tried to shoot a parishioner in front of the congregation. The gun malfunctioned and she beat him off with her Bible — literally. Unfortunately, he simply withdrew and fixed the gun then came back and shot her right there in front of the rest of the church. No-one was armed, and where the church was was such that it was unlikely that the police could respond in time.

    –> The contrast with Ms Assam at New Life Center in CO is illuminating, and should also serve to show why direct comparisons across countries on this matter are apt to be misleading. [BTW, I have long thought that mobilising a well-controlled citizen militia on the Swiss model of DUTY -- not "right" -- to bear arms might be a useful step to helping Jamaica gain control of its situation with violence.]

    –> it is worth noting that a great many testimonies of former quite prominent gunmen such as Vivian Talbot (backed up by changed lives) also show that Evangelical Christian faith can help many such men turn their lives around. [H'mm, I seem to recall that in the old West, former "shootists" often became preachers.]

    I think we need to refocus a bit on BarryA’s key observation and issue:

    ” . . . All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you … as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”

    Look at the last part of that quote closely. One wonders if Murray has been reading Dawkins or Dennett. By blaming the world’s ills on religious people do Dawkins and Dennett incite to hatred and make it more likely that tragedies of this sort can occur? I don’t know, but it is an interesting question . . . . Human motivation is rarely simple, linear and direct . . . A multitude of variables contribute to human actions, and one of those variables is what I would call the “intellectual climate” of the culture. Are Dawkins and his ilk guilty of contributing to a climate of hatred (or at least animosity) against religious people generally and Christians in particular? Hitchens calls religion a “poison.” Isn’t it axiomatic that poison is bad and should be eradicated?

    So, a note or two:

    1] “MOST”:

    I think that little word, “most” is telling, as it points to a now common praxis among the academia, the educational system and major opinion shapers generally to unfairly blame the Christian faith and its adherents for “much” or even “most” of the world’s ills.

    They often make a specialty out of reeling off long lists of the real and imagined sins of Christians and of Christendom, whilst not providing the balancing points underscored by Bernard Lewis in his Sept 1990 article, as I excerpted at 47.

    Observe, no-one seemed to even notice the point. That is telling on how warped our intellectual climate is. (I think in particular that the ones who toss around verbal grenades such as “theocracy” and “fundamentalist” need to read the just linked articles.)

    And, it also indicates that even the Home-schooled Murray was strongly influenced by the de-Christianising tidal wave in the wider culture. So, it is not just a madman making things up out of thin air.

    That brings us to:

    2] The danger of a poisoned atmosphere:

    As Lord Keynes said, unfortunately very prophetically, in his telling concluding passage in his famous General Theory, the madman distills his notions out of ideas available in his environment.

    Indeed, a long time ago now, the late, great Gene Denham taught Christian student leaders in Jamaica about how easily one find oneself in a situation in which one’s belief and value system appear to be ineffective and useless, leading to collapse. In such a painful situation, quite often victims will find some other ready-made system to cling to desperately, whether or not this new system is really sound — making for radical “conversions” and a sometimes dangerously unbalanced zeal that can easily be exploited by unscrupulous leaders. I have seen many such young people caught up in subcultures and movements that are destructive. (BTW, this psychological process has a lot to do with the current suicide bomber cult in the Middle East. It can also easily account for so-called lone-wolf terrorists; especially in an Internet age.)

    This, sadly, seems to have happened in this case.

    That means that those who comment in public or serve as educators — and that includes on the Internet, folks — have a duty to be tempered, objective, fair, accurate and balanced.

    Otherwise, we help to sow the little winds of hate and feed the tornadoes of murderous violence that stem from that hate.

    It is as simple as that, and as painfully and personally telling as that. It’s not just Dennett or Pullman or Dawkins, it is us.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Re The C1 Galilean Jesus Movement: Above, in 46, I emphasised the movement dynamics side of the Gospel accounts as they have a lot to teach us about our own situation, and the hidden dangers it poses.

  92. “Please inform that to the families of the dead … there seem to be plenty to inform.

    Which gets to the point. A lot of those families — maybe even most — wouldn’t care all that much. The fathers are long gone. The mothers have taken up with other boyfriends. There is usually lots of drugs involved.

    Access to guns has little to do with it.

    But if you want to pretend to know something about the issue there is not a lot I can do about it.

    There are plenty of places in America with a whole lot of guns and very few murders. Guns are not the problem. They are just things made of metal and wood. They just sit there unless a person comes along.

  93. Dear Dear StephenB,

    I just Googled your stats! I came to the “Kansas Sportsmen’s Alliance”, obviously a leading Australian Criminal think tank, and discovered that they got their figures from “WorldNetDaily.com”, and they got their figures from a corn flakes packet.

    I believe that the Australian Government’s Institute of Criminolgy http://www.aic.gov.au/stats/crime/homicide.html
    is a much better marker if you like dealing with facts from the true authorities. My favourite line, that probably counters everthing you just wrote, is “There has been a statistically significant downward trend in the incidence of homicide in Australia over the 17 year period, 1990-2006″.

    Pleeeease StephenB, you seem like a quote miner in an impoverished tunnel.

    At the end of the day: people are killed by guns. You have more freely available and you, in the U.S., have markedly more deaths. More guns (in America’s case)= more deaths. It is a frightening statistic that isn’t being effectively countered by government.

  94. KF_- And, it also indicates that even the Home-schooled Murray was strongly influenced by the de-Christianising tidal wave in the wider culture. So, it is not just a madman making things up out of thin air.

    I think that gets to the heart of Barry’s point, and maybe even the point of UD.

    A culture in which authorities (school, entertainment, courts of law) declare that the point of one’s existence is to be determined by the individual then you will have madness in the public square.

    This type of culture has to be fought.

  95. tribune7: ” A lot of those families — maybe even most — wouldn’t care all that much. The fathers are long gone. The mothers have taken up with other boyfriends. There is usually lots of drugs involved.”

    I worked with families like that for nearly ten years. Hardest case scenarios. I dispute that point entirely. Loss of family, no matter how estranged and broken families can be, is still loss. And through a violent end, there is even a greater sense of grief.

    “There are plenty of places in America with a whole lot of guns and very few murders. Guns are not the problem. They are just things made of metal and wood. They just sit there unless a person comes along.”

    AND THAT IS MY POINT: A person comes along! Anyone with a beef can take the metal and wood instrument and use it. You mention drugs, I’ll add loss of focus, depravity, dependancy, suicidal tendencies … here, have a gun. They’re everywhere!!!!

    No gun, no gun crime!

  96. PPS: I see that some of the anti-Christian, ideologically motivated commentary out there on this case improperly appeals to the problem of evil, and tries to dismiss the point of human responsibility as moral creatures, in its rush to find an excuse to blame God [and believers in God] for tragedies, and to “justify” atheism, secularism and the associated secularist, statist progressivism that dominates so much of the West’s political culture.

    Ironically, these philosophically under- or mis- educated commenters don’t seem to realise that the very same freedom that gives us a capacity to love or hate also gives us the capacity to have minds of our own — we are not just zombies programmed by our genes and environments with mind as a delusion floating on the materialistic “reality” of neural networks in our brains and associated CNSes. So, the very fact that they obviously think they can think about the issue and think that argument is important, tells against their own case against God and those who believe in him.

    Indeed, as I have argued long since and as was discussed at length in the Aug 20 Charles Darwin Thread [cf. from 48 on], the evolutionary materialist worldview that seems to motivate this sort of commentary, is — precisely because it is dynamically impotent to account for trustworthy minds that can often credibly think in rationally and morally sound ways — blatantly self-contradictory and thus self-refuting.

  97. PS: I see that some of the anti-Christian, ideologically motivated commentary out there on this case improperly appeals to the problem of evil, and tries to dismiss the point of human responsibility as moral creatures, in its rush to find an excuse to blame God [and believers in God] for tragedies,

    Yet God doesn’t seem to hesitate much throughout the Old Testament to intervene even for violations of the law that modern Western culture would consider insignificant. God did not so love free will as to refuse to punish evil in the material world long ago- why does he stay out of it now?

    we are not just zombies programmed by our genes and environments with mind as a delusion floating on the materialistic “reality” of neural networks in our brains and associated CNSes.

    The ability of purely physical events to cause drastic changes in memory and personality tells otherwise; if there is a non-physical component to the mind, it doesn’t seem to be one integral to composing what we consider important in ourselves.

    So, the very fact that they obviously think they can think about the issue and think that argument is important, tells against their own case against God and those who believe in him.

    The very fact that we can have subjective experiences and ascribe value to these experiences is evidence against the case that these experiences are formed solely by our physical brains?

  98. Aussie-ID:

    In re:

    No gun, no gun crime!

    I think my native land, Jamaica, is sadly living proof of a point often made by Louis L’Amour that late, great popular novelist of the American West:

    When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns . . .

    Even worse, it is sad evidence that if there are enough angry people in a society, knives and agricultural implements such as machetes alone can be enough. Jamica’s non-gun murder rate, ever so sadly — and it shames and saddens me to have to even mention it [but, we need to learn from it] — far exceeds the total murder rate in a lot of countries across the world.

    The 1994 tragedy in Rwanda underscores this, too. Was it 800,000 people basically hacked and clubbed to death then dumped in the river?

    In short, a society that is disarmed can be just as vulnerable [or just as immune!] to violent crime with and without guns as one that is armed to the teeth.

    Think of 1950s England [more or less disarmed and exceptionally non-violent though populated by millions of vets of the bloodiest two wars in history to date] and Switzerland . . . where not only do we have a fully ready automatic rifle in the typical “uniform closet” in the typical house but also private individuals are encouraged to buy retired artillery pieces!]

    Guns, machetes, knives, clubs and rocks for that matter are simply tools used by violent people to carry out their wishes.

    Further, so long as there is a drugs traffic that passes through a country, there will be a heavily armed criminal underclass, and someone who is sufficiently motivated will be able to access it. That includes assault rifles and sub machine guns for those so inclined.

    (Look at how widespread the AK 47 is across much of the world as a legacy of the Cold War, and you will see the point beyond dispute.)

    So, let’s pause and take a breather on this side-bar, and get back on focus on a serious and culture-wide issue.

    The real issues in this thread are serious enough.

    GEM of TKI

  99. … here, have a gun. They’re everywhere!!!!

    Exactly! And some places are fine with them, and some places are not. The problem is not the gun.

    AND THAT IS THE POINT.

    In fact, if you diagnose the problem as the gun, and try to solve it by removing the gun you will certainly make the problem worse.

    Which is another BIG point.

    No gun, no gun crime!

    Putting ink on paper in the form of a law does not make the gun disappear.

    Further, you seem to think that guns are bad. As noted several posts back, before guns came along there was more murder/mayhem/abuse.

    A gun will make a big person not abuse the little person as he had planned.

  100. KF– this might be of interest: Of the five bloodiest wars in history, three did not involve guns at all. The fifth – Taiping Rebellion — was also mostly fought with edged instruments as I understand it.

    And I have to go to bed. Goodnight Aussie. Goodnight KF.

  101. Re George, 99:

    See what I mean?

    Let’s take up a few points:

    1] God doesn’t seem to hesitate much throughout the Old Testament to intervene even for violations of the law that modern Western culture would consider insignificant.

    This of course would take the thread even furtrher afield, into theology [well off-topic for this blog, but an increasingly common resort in the "pose a theological conundrum to show these fundies are dummies and threats to our liberties" Village Atheist tactics of today's atheist rhetors]. But, pardon me Patrick et al, as a point or two need to be made once such a claim has been put on the table.

    Okay, first, you will see in the OT a code of civil law for a people at a very different stage of human culture than we are today, and an associated account of their history across about 1,000 years.

    Given the circumstances they faced, the laws and many actions that look harsh or worse to our eyes were very much matters of survival as a community or even as a people. And, if our Civilisation were — e.g through a nuke war or the onset of an ice age — to collapse into a dark age similar to that of the ANE and Mediterranean world circa 1200 BC – 800 or so BC, a very similar situation would ensue among our survivors. [Cf a discussion of some of this here.]

    2] God did not so love free will as to refuse to punish evil in the material world long ago- why does he stay out of it now?

    One can only PUNISH in a context of responsibility. In short, the very existence of law codes and sanctions on the guilty is premised on the sort of freedom of mind and action that leads to personal responsibility.

    This point self-destructs.

    Also, this remark targets the Judaeo-Christian worldview.

    So, it is relevant to note that, say, Rom 13:1 – 7 explicitly teaches that the civil authority is God’s agent of justice explicitly tasked, inter alia, to punish evildoers. So, just rulers will serve as God’s agents of judgement on evildoers. Unjust ones will trigger a process of resistance that restrains their evil. All, built into the fabric of a world in which we have morally responsible creatures who sense intuitively that certain things are just or unjust and are stirred deeply by them; namely ourselves. [BTW, cf the discussion here -- as already linked -- for details as worked out in the reformation era and as contributed materially to the rise of modern self-government by free peoples. This is not just theory, it is history.]

    Further to this, in a world in which cause-effect chains exist, immoral or irresponsible acts have destructive consequences that are built-in, and which therefore serve to self-limit the damage such acts cause to the society as a whole — they tend to check themselves before they get too far out of hand, ultimately by triggering defensive wars that stop the madness form circulating globally. [On the Biblical worldview, cf her Ac 17:24 ff, that is part of why God created distinct nations, to serve as checks and balances on evil.]

    So, God is not so invisible or inactive as George may presume based on his secularist education.

    3] The ability of purely physical events to cause drastic changes in memory and personality tells otherwise; if there is a non-physical component to the mind, it doesn’t seem to be one integral to composing what we consider important in ourselves.

    This point also self-destructs.

    First, I have nowhere said that the condition of the brain is UNRELATED to or cannot influence the condition of the mind, only that: we are not just zombies programmed by our genes and environments with mind as a delusion floating on the materialistic “reality” of neural networks in our brains and associated CNSes.

    If we were such zombies, then we could not even have a reasonable conversation and the attempt to persuade by argument George just presented would be pointless!

    It would be a matter of what neuronal firing potentials and patterns just happened to be there as controlled by environment and genes, that’s all. (indeed,t he point of such conversations would be to excite verbal behaviour that rriggers certain emotions thart release certain hormones and leads to certain fixed responses stamped in by evolution and accidents of socio-cultural conditioning. That easily explains the common resort to atmosphere-poisoning rather than rational discourse, but it does not explain why we find ourselves knowing intuitively that reason matters, mind matters and morality is binding. Just watch a secularist pounce on a flaw in reasoning gleefully, or protest at injustice — including perceived injustice by the God of the Bible. Then, ask, on what GROUNDS relative to his evolutionary materialist premises, does such a person hold those views and act in that way?]

    The second part of the claim is a bare, question-begging assertion in the teeth of the most obvious, directly accessible evidence of all: our conscious, thinking minds, and the associated experience of freedom to think and decide for ourselves. Neuronal networks are in effect products of chance + necessity,and there is no truth value or moral value to a neuronal firing potential.

    In short, George’s very assumption that he is in fact an agent communicating with other agents undercuts his assertion decisively.

    4] The very fact that we can have subjective experiences and ascribe value to these experiences is evidence against the case that these experiences are formed solely by our physical brains?

    Precisely, for our behaviour betrays that these things are real, and not just subjective delusions — as even the attempt to argue to evolutionary materialism as an account of mind inadvertently reveals.

    Had you taken time to follow up the links and examined the discussion, you would have found this start-point for discussion:

    materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.

    But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance and psycho-social conditioning, within the framework of human culture.)

    Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

    Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

    In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic . . . . As a further consequence, materialism can have no basis, other than arbitrary or whimsical choice and balances of power in the community [= "might makes 'right' "], for determining what is to be accepted as True or False, Good or Evil. So, Morality, Truth, Meaning, and, at length, Man, are dead . . . .

    It is consequently no surprise to detect the consistent theme that all of reality is ultimately meaningless . . . .

    In short, ideas sprout roots, shoot up into all aspects of life, and have consequences in the real world.

    That is my point, and my reason for it in a nutshell.

    And, it is therefore not irrelevant to ask: on what grounded and coherent basis do evolutionary materialists object to what Mr Murray has done — beyond self-refruting subjectivist or relativistic rationales that boil down to I don’t like it, or some referent community does not like it?

    GEM of TKI

  102. It’s a shame the comments have been drawn so far off track. Guns, arguments for/against God, etc. Just as well, this always happens on the internet.

    But I hope the people reading this thread, atheist and theist alike, really considers what BarryA was pointing out. Questions of culture and climate are valid, and there may well be cause to worry about just what sort of ideas – or memes, if that’s your flavor of choice – are being circulated in the modern religious debate. People who are quick to remember past bad influences of christian culture sometimes forget that atheist and anti-theist culture has prompted violence and similar before as well. (Guillotines, anyone?)

  103. Nullasalus:

    Thanks for the reminder.

    In the post at 93, I tried to pull us back on focus by putting a broader perspective on the main side-issue, and by the time I put up a follow-up on the further atmosphere-poisoning I observed on web commentary, it was 98.

    That occasioned a yet further case in point using Village Atheist style theological tickler rhetoric [now unfortunately all too frequently exemplified by the leading atheist advocates we have been mentioning]. I responded, and by then it was 103.

    If I can without seeming utterly full of myself, restate my bottom-line from 93, here it is:

    _______________

    As Lord Keynes said, unfortunately very prophetically, in his telling concluding passage in his famous General Theory, the madman distills his notions out of ideas available in his environment.

    Indeed, a long time ago now, the late, great Gene Denham taught Christian student leaders in Jamaica about how easily one find oneself in a situation in which one’s belief- and value- system appears to be ineffective and useless, leading to collapse. In such a painful situation, quite often victims will find some other ready-made system to cling to desperately, whether or not this new system is really sound — making for radical “conversions” and a sometimes dangerously unbalanced zeal that can easily be exploited by unscrupulous leaders. I have seen many such young people caught up in subcultures and movements that are destructive. (BTW, this psychological process has a lot to do with the current suicide bomber cult in the Middle East. It can also easily account for so-called lone-wolf terrorists; especially in an Internet age.)

    This, sadly, seems to have happened in this case.

    That means that those who comment in public or serve as educators — and that includes on the Internet, folks — have a duty to be tempered, objective, fair, accurate and balanced.

    Otherwise, we help to sow the little winds of hate and feed the tornadoes of murderous violence that stem from that hate.

    It is as simple as that, and as painfully and personally telling as that. It’s not just Dennett or Pullman or Dawkins, it is us.
    ___________

    GEM of TKI

  104. Fair call, nullasalus.

    I’m sure my contemporaries in this thread have also been contemplating the real message that was firstly written and commented on down the line. For all the verbal jousting that ensued, the real focus of the question has certainly been food for thought.

    Dawkins and co. certainly do stir the pot, and animosity grows towards believers … or even non-believers who have the temerity to question the evolutionary paradigm.

    The more someone is called a name the harder it is to lose it. This is an effective weapon emplyed by the Dawkinsians.

  105. specs,

    Well, it seems I haven’t been shown the door yet, so let me respond.

    eh? Merely disagreeing with someone won’t get you the boot. Intellectual dishonestly would, but you are not being intellectually dishonest and I see your point.

    Although I would add that rebellion can occur even in an overall positive environment. My wife’s youngest brother would be an example. Besides his inner rebellion, the largest external factor was the internet and other negative media (he even admits that his views were largely influenced by these external sources). Despite his family and friend’s positive influence he decided to rebel, and even became a leader of sorts for a gang, thus becoming a negative influence to others. One of the persons he influenced is now in a coma.

    But in regards to Murray we cannot be certain what the largest factors were. It’s possible his family and friends may have failed him, or even abused him. It’s also possible that Murray was a regular reader of PT and TO, which regularly includes incitements to hatred!* We don’t know, but I think Barry is trying to focus on “overall questions” related to the intellectual environment. Your questions are perfectly valid but they’re a separate question for which we don’t have enough information.

    * I’d post examples but we’re trying to keep UD family friendly. Let’s just say that people who are respected over there like Abbie Smith have wished death on public figures in “interesting” fashions…

  106. kairosfocus,

    “That means that those who comment in public or serve as educators — and that includes on the Internet, folks — have a duty to be tempered, objective, fair, accurate and balanced.”

    I agree completely. Though I would go another step and include us pseudonym’d people posting in comments sections with it.

    I’m surprised no one has yet done a book (if they have, it hasn’t reached my attention) about culture on the internet. Some anonymous person died? In come the jokes and the “Darwin awards” (And no, I don’t think that’s a result of evolution being taught – I think it’s part of a valueless culture) and the people laughing. Someone famous has a stroke or the like? In with more jokes, especially if some people didn’t like his/her music. And that’s the lighter end of things.

    Promote the idea that members of a culture you disagree with are subhuman, beyond debate, have no value, and don’t be shocked if people take you seriously and play the idea out to a nasty conclusion.

  107. Hmmm…interesting link.

    Extreme fundamentalist views can be dangerous and even deadly regardless as to whether they are based on ‘religious’ or ‘atheist’ views.

  108. ——kairosfocus @93 write, “As Lord Keynes said, unfortunately very prophetically, in his telling concluding passage in his famous General Theory, ‘the madman distills his notions out of ideas available in his environment.’”

    Yes. It amazes me that more social commentators do not make this connection. Our youngest and most vulnerable have been steeped in an anti-Christian, anti-life philosophy almost from the age of reason. Sadly, most who educate them are either ignorant about or hostile toward the theological truths that shape freedom and prosperity. Christianity brought us the notion that we are all “created equal”; that we are precious in the eyes of God; that we have been given a vocation; that our race, creed, and gender don’t matter; that we were “designed” to work out our own personal destinies. Equally important, it teaches that we have the internal God-given power to work out that destiny. We know that life is sacred only because we know that the creator has placed value on it. In other words Christianity provides TEMPORAL HOPE as well as eternal consolation. You cannot get that same sense of confidence by abandoning Christianity and supplanting it with some ridiculous cult of “self esteem,” which bids students to mindlessly gather around a desk and parrot the phrase, “I am somebody.”

    If, as the anti-religious contingency insists, that Christianity is “poison,” then if follows that all of the ideas derived from Christianity are poison as well. So when secularist educators in our schools undermine Christianity, they are also destabilizing the very institution that was designed to prepare us for responsible citizenship—and for a meaningful life. Make no mistake about it, once Christendom is destroyed, its blessings go with it.

    But the leading secularists will not admit this obvious fact. Somehow they have deluded themselves, and many of their Darwinist/secularist followers, that liberty and prosperity can be generated solely from rationalist principles. Never mind the fact that nothing like it ever occurred before Christianity and nothing like it will ever occur again.. Incredibly, atheists have this vision of a well-ordered society without having the faintest notion about where that order comes from in the first place. That is why they always blow it when they get the power. Being power mad, they want to destroy Christianity, which is the antidote to tyrannical power—-but they also want to retain Christianity’s fruits. In other words, they are parasites on the very thing that they hate and want to eliminate. Of course, as we all know, they would eliminate freedom and dignity as well if they get hegemonic control of the culture and no longer need to posture as lovers of liberty. As the record shows, they value power much more than they value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Too many of our children and young adults also de-value life, because, brainwashed in secularism, they do not understand the inherent dignity of the human person. Further, they have been cheated out of the theological perspective that provides temporal hope. To complicate things even more, they have been programmed to resent any reference to God, no matter what the context. Trained by their secularist educators to be dutiful secularist worker bees, they have come to regard Christian morality as an “imposition of values,” and Christian believers as intellectual crackpots—rigid ideologues who would inhibit them sexually and, if they could, impose on them a Biblically-oriented theocracy. How, then, can one expect our young to look forward to the future when they have no moral direction—no real opportunity to learn and practice the virtues that make life worth living—faith, fairness, courage, compassion, love, enthusiasm, self control, and a lively sense of purpose.

    Having had the hope of a meaningful life taken from them, having been warned that there are no “ready-made” answers at the very time they are looking for answers, many of them are ready to crack at the first sign of an emotional challenge. If the problem is serious enough, murder is just as much of an option as suicide. Consider the bottom line message from Hitchens, Dawkins, Wilson, and the secularist educators that enable them:

    “Hope is a lie, and the Christians who offer it are liars. Life is hard enough without allowing these cruel, ignorant, neurotic fundamentalists to set you up for a fall. You must learn to hate these fools and anyone else who would impose their personal morality on you. They don’t care about you at all; they just want to keep you from having a good time. Have sex as often as you like, when you like, and with whom you like. Then, wallow in your existential despair. It is all you have!”
    I can understand why someone struggling with emotional problems might break after hearing a message like that often enough. Unfortunately, even those educated from a Christian perspective are vulnerable to this philosophy, unless they make the connection between their faith and their role in the world. If we continue to allow our children to hear this destructive message without mounting a serious challenge to it, then we deserve even more of what we are already getting.

  109. forthekdis — reading the links it looks like Barry was right to a degree. Murray certainly got some ideas from death metal music.

  110. Murray certainly got some ideas from death metal music.

    I hear that Richard Dawkins was the first choice to replace Jason Newsted as bassist for Metallica, but turned them down because he felt he could spread more mayhem via The New York Times Best Sellers List.

  111. When someone is broken, there are any number of things that may push them over the edge. Unfortunately, so much is easily accessible on the Internet these days, and for the loner who has been shoved around or ignored his whole life, the last thing he needs is to fall victim to the all the crap out there. It also appears that he felt he was never one of the “beautiful people” or part of the in crowd at the church youth groups.

    It looks as if Murray came from an over zealous “Christian” (if it can be called that) environment which was teetering on cult-like behavior. Unfortunately, his intensely sheltered life may have led him straight to the thing his parents wanted to keep him from the most.

    Unlike some “Christians” who seem to believe it best to hide their children from the world and make unreasonable demands on their lives, Christ actually spent much of his time with people whose views differed from his own. I think that may be why Christ had such compassion for the prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. He understood both the sinner and the saint and loved them equally.

    If Murray had been showed more love and compassion growing up rather than condemnation at every turn, perhaps things would have been different for him?

  112. Oh joy. Another detour. Jason Newsted has not been with the band since 2001 and Metallica is not death metal.

  113. forthekids — you’re right.

    OTOH, I think Barry is too.

  114. StephenB,

    I rarely comment on others’ comments anymore. But that was a nice set of insights.

    I agree that when notions of human dignity and explanations of compassion are reduced to gene exchange theorems or that the mind and/or free will is but an illusion for replication purposes, we debased ourselves. In these scenarios we are no more important than roaches and rats.

    Thanks.

    –SWT

  115. H’mm:

    This thread is getting very interesting indeed. The analysis is coming up with some very useful patterns and trends with likely consequences.

    I add by way of a bit of synthesis of remarks by FTK, StephenB and Nullasalus, that perhaps the most vulnerable to the sort of manipulation I pointed out in 93 and 104 are precisely those who are not fitting in well in their current reference group. (A close second are zealous romantic idealists who chafe at the imperfections of real-world communities and institutions.)

    We do need to think very carefully about where we are taking our civilisation.

    As for Stephen at 109 on:

    Our youngest and most vulnerable have been steeped in an anti-Christian, anti-life philosophy almost from the age of reason. Sadly, most who educate them are either ignorant about or hostile toward the theological truths that shape freedom and prosperity.

    That is because one of the first targets of the de-Christianising agenda was precisely teacher training institutions. Dewey, among others, was quite explicit on that.

    I find it astonishing to note that we are so often ignorant of the material contribution of Gospel ethics motivated people to our liberties [even as long litanies of the real and imagined sins of Christendom and the wider Western culture are insistently recited over and over again and again], but note also that for instance astonishingly few of us seem able to simply read with understanding.

    I recall for instance the hostile and dismissive reaction — especially from those who should have been able to see immediately the rather obvious import of the excerpted and linked facts — when I first put up and highlighted findings from the just linked in another blog.

    But, since this is a BarryA thread, let’s stop short of making the usual lawyer jokes and directly use a legal example, the grand statement structure of the US Constitution:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America . . . . [Main Body, Arts I - VII] . . . . Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth. In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. . . . . [AMENDMENTS].

    Take a look at this in light of the sort of repeated proclamations of the Congress over the founding era as they repeatedly called the people of the nascent USA to repentance and reformation through calls for days of prayer and thanksgiving such as:

    May 1776 [over the name of John Hancock, first signer of the US Declaration of Indpependence]: In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity.. . . Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; . . . that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our officers and soldiers with invincible fortitude, to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the continental arms, by sea and land, with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil rulers, and the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions; to preserve and strengthen their union, to inspire them with an ardent, disinterested love of their country; to give wisdom and stability to their counsels; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the rights of America on the most honourable and permanent basis—That he would be graciously pleased to bless all his people in these colonies with health and plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible patriotism, and of pure undefiled religion, may universally prevail; and this continent be speedily restored to the blessings of peace and liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations [i.e. the vast majority of the population], to assemble for public worship, and abstain from servile labour on the said day.

    Of course, this is the US Congress just before issuing the DOI of July 1776. And, as the above linked notes document, this pattern continued across the founding era and was rooted in the covenantal understanding of Government and nationhood under God.

    ALL of this has long since been in the public record, and is easily accessible to the level of investigators who write major works on that era. So, why is it not in the contemporary accounts, or in the popular mindset?

    ANS: It does not fit the secularist favoured narrative and agenda. So it is simply missed or is misunderstood or ignored or even suppressed. That sounds rather familiar to me . . .

    So, at length, we see the force of StephenB’s point: Make no mistake about it, once Christendom is destroyed, its blessings go with it.

    In particular, we need to think long and hard onteh moral consequences of evolutionary materialism, especially the undermining of morality and virtue, and the substiotution instead of the vicious and destructive principle that — however it is disguised — “might makes ‘right’ ”

    Then, mix in a population that inevitably includes a significant number of disturbed and unstable youths with access to messages and means of violence 9which needs not include just guns — recall that doctor with a car full of propane gas cylinders trying to set it off in an airport in Scotland only a few months ago).

    Add the insistent, public, too often celebrated targetting of Bible-believing Christians and the Christian faith as being “to blame for most of the problems in the world.”

    Is a Matthew Murray really unexpected in such a situation?

    For that matter, with a few adjustments, is a 9/11 or a 7/7 really unexpected in such a situation?

    The answers should be obvious.

    Time to re-think . . .

    GEM of TKI

    PS: A bit off topic. I have been adding to my online notes in the always linked, and in particular have addressed the issue of the trichotomy of chance, necessity and agency, the snowflake and the like and the coherence of the CSI concept. This last in a new appendix on the significance of Dr Dembski’s work in light of the state of the concept as summarised by TBO in TMLO in 1984.

    Thanks, again, to those who have interacted with me, whether by agreement or disagreement.

  116. PPS: Interesting news update here — though of course the usual disclaimers obtain for this always interesting but sometimes disappointing site.

    Occult and nihilism influences through some aspects of pop music are possible factors — as is consistent with the way Murray reportedly dressed Columbine-style to attack at the church.

    In cites that seem to be likely to trace to MM, we can see the following list of claimed influences in the just linked:

    “I have found myself in deep trances and other worlds through the usage of this drug and have found my life radically altered and changed and (sic) by it. I found this drug to be a powerful driving force and easy gateway into a world of sex, other drugs, rebellion, homosexuality, alcoholism and many other dark things. … What is this mind altering life changing drug that has such an incredible power? Well, one of the main persons who has helped make this drug a powerful force in my life has been Marilyn Manson. … The drug that I use and am addicted to is commonly known in our culture as … Rock Music.”

    The convergence between secularist and neopagan de-Christianisation trends and pop culture is therefore probably relevant, especially as that is now a theme in the Dark Materials series by Pullman; which is being promoted through that $180 mn movie.

    We need to do some more thinking . . .

  117. KF, Murray was clearly influenced by music.

    Something should be considered with regards to the criticism levied at Murray’s church. While reflection and self-criticism can be helpful, his church did not teach him to kill strangers.

    Actually, his church clearly taught Murray that it was bad to kill/harm/abuse strangers.

    Outside influences, however, taught Murray that his church was bad, and, eventually, that everything his church stood for was bad — including the exhortation to love your neighbor.

    Which led him to think killing strangers was something he should do.

    It’s very important to keep that perspective in mind.

  118. Trib:

    Yep.

    GEM of TKI

  119. Were the “antidepressants” Matthew was taking SSRIs? If so, that might be a more direct link than Dawkins and Dennett–although there can be no question that they are inciting a climate of general hostility toward Christains.

  120. That ideas have consequences should not be a surprise to anyone. When I read the statement that the shooter made, my thoughts were similar to Barry’s. Had this guy been reading Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, et.al.? Maybe we’ll never know. But, what is clear is that something in his mind gave him justification for the actions he took that fateful night and morning. No doubt he felt he had been dealt with unfairly by some Christian(s) or others in his past. Was it enough to justify his “revenge” in his mind? Was it that coupled with a larger cultural context where ridiculing and showing animosity towards religion in general and Christians in particular is tolerated, and even encouraged by the makers of media? Did the shooter feel the culture had somehow given him “permission” to take out a few of the “bad guys”?

    We may never know what passed through his mind. What we do know is that his loathing towards Christians was real…and it was real enough to motivate him to take a gun and go on a killing spree. What was it that fed and nutured that loathing? If I were Dennett or Dawkins or Harris or Hitchens or any of the other of the so-called “new” atheists, I’d be asking myself some pretty tough questions about now. And the first question would be “how have I contributed to a cultural climate that has demonstrated such strong animosity towards Christians and people of faith that some are inspired to violence?” The irony here is obvious: these “new” atheists have ranted and railed against religion and Christianity claiming that it inspires all sorts of visciousness, hatred and violence. Have we now witnessed that fanatical atheism inspires the same?

  121. S. Wakefield Tolbert: Thanks!

    allanius:

    forthekids:
    tribune 7:

    All your points granted. Tragedies of this kind almost always require a multiplicity of causes in the short run. Take away any one factor and you may get a different result.

    If the young man hadn’t been troubled, or if his religious training had been less reactionary, or if such training had not been followed by influences from a radically nihilistic subculture, or if medical intervention had not backfired, or if the de-Christianized culture at large had not set the table, perhaps the inner conflict that prompted the act would have been less severe and less likely to result in a violent act.

    Further, I would venture that something very personal and very recent occurred prior to the event that, in itself, may seem to have been the decisive factor—a snub, a broken dream, a lost relationship, or any emotional crisis that the young man simply could not or would not deal with.

    HOWEVER:

    We are left with the following questions: How do we account for the widespread despair and resentment that attends all of these events? For every one of these youth who finally crosses the line, there are probably hundreds who are thinking about it.
    How do we account for the almost complete disregard for human life? It is one thing to do away with one’s enemy in an act of vengeance, but it is quite another thing to take down everyone else in the vicinity as a means of achieving immortality.

    I submit to you that it is precisely the de-Christianizing of the culture that has brought this about. Consider the life lessons our narcissistic secularist culture is offering our youngest generation:

    We tell them that they deserve the best of everything, even if they have achieved nothing; that they have a right not to be offended by any idea, even if it is something that they need to hear ; that they should be immune from the embarrassment of failure, even if their performance is lacking; that they cannot control their passions, even if premature sex will ruin their lives; that they should not have to struggle in order to grow, even if there is no other way to reach maturity; that they should feel free to abort a life in the womb, even if that life is innocent and helpless; that they are nothing but risen beasts, even if the angels inside of them are crying to get out.

    Is this any way to build a well-ordered society? Our Judeo/Christian heritage once provided a decidedly different perspective on freedom. It was less about following the cravings of our appetites and more about following the dictates of our conscience.

  122. StephenB:

    Very well said.

  123. StephenB:

    Well said indeed.

    I add, that we need to look at the driving trend, the evolutionary materialism based, secular humanist [often statist-progressivist (i.e politicaly messianistic)] worldview and its agenda implications:

    . . . materialism, however, has deeper problems. It argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance . . . .

    Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity . . . .

    As a further consequence, materialism can have no basis, other than arbitrary or whimsical choice and balances of power in the community, for determining what is to be accepted as True or False, Good or Evil. So, Morality, Truth, Meaning, and, at length, Man, are dead.

    As Francis Schaeffer and others have so ably pointed out, this inner contradiction explains modern man’s dilemma and confusion. For, his soul — created by God, our real Maker — tells such a man that he is significant, but what he thinks he knows tells him that he is nothing but a random bit of rubbish cast up by an ultimately chaotic and purposeless universe. He therefore knows not which to believe, and so lives under a cloud of hopeless despair, “a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

    It is consequently no surprise to detect the consistent theme that all of reality is ultimately meaningless in modern and post-modern Literature, in contemporary Philosophy, and in the Arts generally . . . . In Law, Government, and Public Policy, the same bitter seed has shot up the idea that “Right” and “Wrong” are simply arbitrary social conventions. This has often led to the adoption of hypocritical, inconsistent, futile and self-destructive public policies.

    “Truth is dead,” so Education has become a power struggle; the victors have the right to propagandise the next generation as they please. Media power games simply extend this cynical manipulation from the school and the campus to the street, the office, the factory, the church and the home.

    Further, since family structures and rules of sexual morality are “simply accidents of history,” one is free to force society to redefine family values and principles of sexual morality to suit one’s preferences.

    Finally, life itself is meaningless and valueless, so the weak, sick, defenceless and undesirable — for whatever reason — can simply be slaughtered, whether in the womb, in the hospital, or in the death camp.

    In short, ideas sprout roots, shoot up into all aspects of life, and have consequences in the real world.

    So, should we not now very seriously reconsider the want of solid empirical evidence for, the logically self-refuting nature and destructive moral-cultural implications of the evolutionary materialism that in the name of “science” [but falsely so-called] has largely taken over the control of our classrooms, courtrooms, policy-making bodies and mass media all across our civilisaiton?

    GEM of TKI

  124. It looks like we now have the answer to the interesting question. The results of the search warrant on Matthew Murray’s residence have been released. No Dawkins. No Dennett. No Hitchens. There was a prescription for alprazolam, a drug used to treat severe anxiety disorders, lots of gun and bomb making materials, and religious media including a Bible and a Book of Mormon.

    More interesting questions?

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