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Campus Killer and Indoctrination

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An obviously deranged man shot a female student and then killed himself at a community college over the weekend.  As you watch the news report, you’ll note that Anthony seems to be having a very hard time with the idea of evolution.  He was raised Christian, and taught, as are many Christians, that evolution is false, and that we are most certainly not descended from monkeys.  (Yes, I know, we’re not descended from monkeys.  I’m… (ahem) aping what he’s been taught.)

As I skimmed through a lot of web chatter about this story, I’ve noticed the predictable rhetoric coming from both sides:

Atheists:  See!  You shouldn’t indoctrinate your children!  This poor man killed a woman because of Christianity.

Christians: NOOOO!!!  His Christianity didn’t have anything to do with it!  He’s crazy, and would have snapped regardless of how he was raised.

I submit to you that they are both wrong.  We simply can’t go back in time, raise Anthony as a freethinker, and see if he’d still snap and kill somebody.   The Christians might be right.  He might have been so mentally deranged from birth that something like this was inevitable.   The atheists might be right, too.  The cognitive dissonance of higher science based education might have been too much for his indoctrinated, inflexible worldview, and it might have been the catalyst that drove him to murder and suicide.  There’s no way to know for sure, and I don’t think there’s any reason to speculate.

Nevertheless, I think there are things we can learn from what we certainly do know.  From Anthony’s own video, it’s obvious that he had some issues with evolution.  We know that these issues were near the front of his mind when he was contemplating suicide and murder, and we can see from his own reactions that he was convinced that evolution is a lie.  The only reasonable conclusion is that this viewpoint came from Christian indoctrination.   We can therefore reasonably conclude that Anthony’s indoctrination also included many, or perhaps all of the other traditional Christian teachings.  We can imagine that he felt he was sinful for lusting after his victim.  He might very well have believed that she was a sinner for dancing provacatively, or perhaps for sexual promiscuity with someone else she was involved with.  Maybe he didn’t like the way she dressed.

I’m not trying to establish anything concrete here.  What I’m trying to show  is that there are dozens of Christian teachings about morality, women, sex, evolution, and other subjects that are patently, demonstrably false.   We must conclude that it’s very likely that Anthony was taught some, or perhaps most of these demonstrably false worldviews.   What specifically his beliefs were doesn’t matter so much as the fact that they were demonstrably false.

The question I’d like to ask my readers is this:  Can we realistically imagine that any of these Christian beliefs were not potentially part of Anthony’s depression and subsequent murder/suicide?  Can we suggest that an unstable man, presented with a glaring cognitive dissonance about his most fervent feelings, emotions, and desires, would be better off than someone who at least saw consistency in the world?

I’d like you to think for a second about the most fervently religious people you know.  Think of someone who genuinely believes that the world is 6000 years old, or that women shouldn’t speak in church, or that fantasizing about a woman before marriage is a sin.  Realizing that most people with these beliefs are not mentally unstable, can you see how such drastically wrong thinking can screw up even a sound mind?  Christian fundamentalists do remarkable pretzel logic, and come up with bizarre conclusions about a wide variety of subjects.  I used to know a man who prayed before dinner that God would put a spiritual barrier around the table so no demons would enter him through his mouth while he ate.  No kidding.  Another family I once knew would make a big show of pretending to put on armor while standing in the driveway before going out “into the world.”  These were basically normal people who, if examined by a psychiatrist, would probably have checked out as basically well balanced. 

If otherwise normal people can be convinced to put on invisible armor, or to believe in force fields around the dinner table, can we really say that it’s a good thing for unstable people to be taught the same kinds of beliefs?  The difference between unstable and stable people is that stable people have a mental filter that stops them from doing really crazy things, but let’s be honest — religion teaches crazy things!

If you haven’t cracked a Bible before, or if it’s been a long time, maybe now would be a good time.  Look at what the Bible says about slaves, or menstruation, or wives, or marriage.  Consider the teaching that a man ought to hate his family, or that he ought to sell everything he owns.  The Bible is filled with ridiculous and dangerous instructions that sane people don’t follow.  Instead, they dismiss them, or write them off as irrelevant to today.   The reality, however, is that there is no real distinction.  The Bible doesn’t come with instructions for discerning what’s insane and what’s just a little bit odd.  To a reader without normal inhibitions, it’s a terrible book of instructions for sociopathic or psychotic behavior.

No, I can’t say that Christian teachings drove Anthony to murder and suicide, but I can say with pretty good certainty that they didn’t do anything good for him.  Regardless of whether he would have done this kind of thing without Christianity, it’s easy enough to say that had he been raised a rationalist, at least he’d have had one less potential catalyst.

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Discussion

23 thoughts on “Campus Killer and Indoctrination

  1. From what I’ve read, he was on anit-psychotic medications and refused to take them.

    This is what happened when the naturalselector whatever number snapped in Finland and AiG blamed evolution and the atheists all pointed out that naturalselector was on mediciation etc.. etc… For the AiG argument just replace ‘indoctornated into Creationism’ with “indocornated in Evolution”

    I think the whole debate is stupid, you can’t take diagnoses socio-paths and say “If he wasn’t taught this blah blah blah”

    Kind of like the kid who played Grand Theft Auto then stole a car and I think tried to kill somebody.

    Posted by Alison | April 15, 2009, 3:52 pm
  2. Forgot the link for the GTA

    Posted by Alison | April 15, 2009, 3:58 pm
  3. Okay, Alison: what do you think of this ad, out of curiousity?

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | April 15, 2009, 6:55 pm
  4. That ad tries to link the Colombine shootings to evolution

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/features/you-matter-to-god

    If you’re suggesting that it says to kill atheists, that’s not what it’s for.

    Posted by Alison | April 15, 2009, 7:12 pm
  5. Kevin wrote on RRS”Seriously, this is fucked-up. This ad is telling kids to fucking shoot people who don’t believe in God in the face. There is no alternative interpretation.”

    Yes, there is as per the link. Then again you won’t fess up to it will you?

    Posted by Alison | April 15, 2009, 7:16 pm
  6. So nobody, in your opinion, would ever see that video and think it means, “If someone doesn’t believe in God, you may as well shoot them?”

    That’s *exactly* the message *I* fucking got.

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | April 15, 2009, 7:16 pm
  7. Hey, be my guest and defend that message on the RRS boards to your heart’s content, Alison.

    Have a hoot.

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | April 15, 2009, 7:18 pm
  8. Kevin worte”So nobody, in your opinion, would ever see that video and think it means, “If someone doesn’t believe in God, you may as well shoot them?”

    That’s *exactly* the message *I* fucking got.”

    When Sam Harris says that it may be ethical to kill people because of what they believe, I kinda got the impression that he said it was ethical to kill religious people

    And you were still wrong about AiG creating the ad to tell people to shoot atheists in the face.

    Posted by Alison | April 15, 2009, 7:28 pm
  9. For the record Kevin, I refuse to condone or defend such a stupid moronic ad, I will not however call it something that it isn’t

    Posted by Alison | April 15, 2009, 7:37 pm
  10. Alison: “And you were still wrong about AiG creating the ad to tell people to shoot atheists in the face.”

    So, you’re either:

    A) So gullible that you’ll believe whatever you’re told about a given message, or

    B) So dead-set on defending fundamentalists that you’ll bullshit abouthow their message should be interpreted.

    Alison: “For the record Kevin, I refuse to condone or defend such a stupid moronic ad, I will not however call it something that it isn’t”

    So, why aren’t you condemning it? You ‘won’t condone it’, but you’ll sit there with your trap shut and watch while Ken Ham’s ministry produces videos promoting youth gun violence.

    You don’t have any spine at all, do you Alison? You’re pretty quiet on the Nate Phelps front for someone who believes that religious indoctrination is a non-issue and that religious beliefs cannot lead to life-destroying behavior. Why aren’t you over there telling everyone how Nate is full of crap and doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and how religion couldn’t possibly be one of the causes for his misery?

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | April 15, 2009, 7:59 pm
  11. A) The link is from AiG which would BE RESPONSIBLE for said ad.

    Read the link Kevin. Answers in Genesis, it is an Answers in Genesis ad, and it is on their site, and that link specifically talks about it.

    I’ve never seen that ad before, but once again Kev, it does not promote gun violence.

    Posted by Alison | April 15, 2009, 8:32 pm
  12. For the record Kevin, I am against indoctoration of any kind.

    Posted by Alison | April 15, 2009, 8:37 pm
  13. So if I posted a picture of a dog, and I say it’s a cat… it’s a cat, then? Because I posted it and I said so?

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | April 15, 2009, 10:09 pm
  14. Thank you for a thorough analysis of religious implications from murder suicide perpetrators who are Christian.
    What you did not discuss is the culture of violence which is broadly validated from childhood on with toy guns, war & cowboys/indians movies, video games & the prevailing policy of our country, to arm Israelis & any country that props up exploitative companies to steal natural resources for massive profiteering.
    John Wayne & Nancy Reagun are the archetype foot soldiers in the glorification of cultural violence & rewarding violent males with blind devotion & sex. When violent males, with their circumcized penis each do not obtain the frequent penile gratification of intercourse with submissive capitalist exploitative females, there is hell to pay.
    The complexities of religion only exacerbate this bait & switch for the gun toting charge into hell types who only want a female to praise his brutal battlefield intentions.
    Add to that the Asian culture of honor killing & Brazilian honor killing and you have a female hord of oppressed females unable or unwilling to submit to such depravity yet idealized lifestyles.
    I wonder if we searched this dead perpetrators video library & rental patterns, to see if that is what he expected out of his sex & violence lifesthyle? Peace, Larry 843-926-1750

    Posted by Larry Carter Center | April 15, 2009, 10:39 pm
  15. *ahem* not that the little side-track has moved to the RRS forums, I’d like to return to the issue at hand.

    If he was taking meds, that would tell me that his illness was most likely neurologically based.

    So getting Tony to be a “rational thinker” could have been like getting a Homosexual to be a Heterosexual. He may have simply been hardwired to this behaviour, and eventually it led to the murder/suicide.

    I’m sorry, but for all the ragging you do on me for speculating, I can’t just let this pass 😛

    Posted by Alison | April 16, 2009, 5:12 am
  16. Alison wrote:

    So getting Tony to be a “rational thinker” could have been like getting a Homosexual to be a Heterosexual. He may have simply been hardwired to this behaviour, and eventually it led to the murder/suicide.

    Hmmm… and I said…
    We simply can’t go back in time, raise Anthony as a freethinker, and see if he’d still snap and kill somebody. The Christians might be right. He might have been so mentally deranged from birth that something like this was inevitable… There’s no way to know for sure, and I don’t think there’s any reason to speculate.

    Alison wrote:

    I’m sorry, but for all the ragging you do on me for speculating, I can’t just let this pass

    Then I guess I have to point out that you could use some work on reading comprehension.

    Posted by hambydammit | April 16, 2009, 11:32 am
  17. Hamby said “Then I guess I have to point out that you could use some work on reading comprehension.”

    Of course, the burden of proof is clearly on me to prove you wrong.

    My point Hamby is that we have little information on this case. Why not at least wait until more information arises? That way, we can say whether the Christianity caused or influenced the behaviour or it was merely a projection of that behaviour.

    Posted by Alison | April 16, 2009, 4:04 pm
  18. And my point is that twice now you’ve completely missed the obvious — that I agree with you.

    We should not bother speculating about Anthony. I put it in black and white print, and then repeated it in bold.

    Posted by hambydammit | April 16, 2009, 4:50 pm
  19. The child/gun ad that was posted sent a message to me. It seemed to suggest, at least to me, that atheism causes violence (or at least nobody giving a shit about you.)

    Obviously, this is false. Atheism does not CAUSE violence. Theism does not CAUSE violence. Many articles on this website make it quite clear that violence would exist with or without atheism and also with or without theism. The way human sexuality has evolved is the root cause of violence. Nevertheless, I am a bit disturbed at anybody who would make such an ad and then direct it at a bunch of probably ignorant non-critical thinkers. Not to mention the fact that there are probably unhinged people on that website, and any further encouragement (intentional or not) of unhinged behavior is not helpful to society. Of course, there is almost an unlimited amount of violent fodder in the media and in people around us. Unhinged people are probably going to latch on to whatever to explain their unhinged behaior. As Hambdy stated, we just don’t know.

    I can tell you that I own a whole criminology encyclopedia set and have read almost every volume. There are MANY cases where people do things such as serial killings and they very pointedly don’t seem to understand why the hell they behaved that way even themselves. The Boston Strangler is one example of this. Jeffery Dahmer is another. I don’t think that it’s probably too much of a stretch to think that people who behave in these ways, especially if they don’t seem to understand why they did it, probably have some sort of a medical problem going on. I certainly think that further research into the matter would be well worth while. Also, it’s pretty obvious that human beings don’t live in a total social vacuum and that social factors are well worth investigating as well. Since this is such a major problem and we really aren’t sure why people act this way (when they are unhinged), I think it’s worth further study. We can not hope to control what we don’t understand.

    Posted by Valerie Kelley | May 15, 2009, 6:54 pm
  20. If someone reads a violent bible passage and acts upon it violently, then religion has caused the violence. I can report to you that a man killed his ex-wife and her boyfriend who impregnated her. He claimed he was spoken to by his alleged deity and testified during his double murder trial that he read his bible daily. The tragedy included the accidental death of a 3 year old girl leaving her half siblings motherless and fatherless as he is still in an Iowa prison. After shooting the two “fornicators” as bible verses dictate violence for fornication, he took the 3 year old girl in his vehicle and crashed it 3 miles away into a underpass concrete pylon. Both were seriously injured and the little girl, unattended that night in her hospital bed pulled out an IV and bled to death before discovered an hour later during nurses rounds.

    Posted by Larry Carter Center | August 23, 2009, 11:39 pm
  21. it is not a solid implication that a mental patient taking drugs under a doctor’s prescription has a mental defect that has nothing to do with religion. Prolonged exposure to religious terroristic ideas in a childs mind could easily be the cause of psychosis and neurosis later observed in adults. The so called multiple personality disorder is common amongst raped/abused females coming from violent religious homes. Dissociative behaviour, extreme anxiety reactions can just as easily lead to heart attack, stroke and death of an internalizing victim. Indeed harboring extreme depressive violent thoughts is seen as a “relief”by carrying out said thoughts into action found in the writings of suicidal & murder suicide perpetrators.

    Posted by Larry Carter Center | August 23, 2009, 11:53 pm
  22. Larry, so I guess if I asked for academic peer reviewed studies that growing up in a religious enviroment can cause psychosis and neurosis you would have them available?

    Posted by Alison | August 24, 2009, 5:38 am

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