Care to guess?
Heads up to PZ for this one. In the wake of the Viriginia Tech massacre, when deranged student Seung Hui Cho mowed down 32 people, right-wing commentators wasted no time in laying the blame on liberalism, secularism, and the teaching of evolution. Among the more brainless remarks was this one from surprise surprise! professional idiot Ken Ham.
We live in an era when public high schools and colleges have all but banned God from science classes. In these classrooms, students are taught that the whole universe, including plants and animals–and humans–arose by natural processes. Naturalism (in essence, atheism) has become the religion of the day and has become the foundation of the education system (and Western culture as a whole). The more such a philosophy permeates the culture, the more we would expect to see a sense of purposelessness and hopelessness that pervades people’s thinking. In fact, the more a culture allows the killing of the unborn, the more we will see people treating life in general as “cheap.”
Blah blah blah. Well, guess what it turns out was really on the mind of the VT killer? (Emphasis added.)
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also think Cho mentally and physically tried to transform himself into an alter ego he called “Ax Ishmael” before his rampage…. Investigators think “Ax Ishmael” is based on the biblical figure Ishmael, the son of Hagar, a maidservant to Sarah, and the prophet Abraham. Ishmael lived as an outcast, and his brother Isaac was favored. Writings that Cho left in his dorm room, sent to the Virginia Tech English Department and mailed to NBC reveal twisted references to religion as part of his identity.
Cho, 23, of Centreville, whose family was religious and had sought help for him from a Woodbridge church, repeatedly made religious references. He said that he had been “crucified” and that, as with Jesus, his actions would set people free. He called himself a “martyr” who would “sacrifice” his life. He wrote that he would go down in history as the “Jesus Christ of the Weak and Defenseless.” He thought his actions would inspire others to fight back and get even.
Ah, so! Lessee here. References to the Holy Babble and Jeebus: lots and lots! References to Charles Darwin: zippo!
Now, I confess, the title of this post has a high snark level. For me to say that religion was the “cause” of Cho’s rampage would be every bit as stupid as the claims of uneducated creationists who say it’s the fault of teaching proper science and of not forcing religion down the throats of students every day. Mental health is a complex issue, and there are numerous factors that lead to madness.
However, it’s telling that we have frequently had accounts of all-out acts of wanton violence in society in which fanatical religious delusions reared their frazzled heads, and none in which science and evolution did. It’s also telling that religious mania is a known psychological disorder, whereas no one has ever been diagnosed with “evo-mania”. Possessing knowledge about how the world really works simply does not move a person to violence. Indeed, violence is most frequently perpetrated by people who are angry that the world isn’t working the way they feel it should, and the way they feel it should is most often dictated by a religious or political ideology.
Also disgusting is the way in which especially fanatical religionists make heroes and martyrs out of those who kill for their interests, all the while rushing to vilify science and “Darwinism” when people kill for reasons that don’t support extremist agendas. The most egregious display of pro-murder religiosity lately has been the announcement of “Paul Hill Days,” sponsored by the anti-abortion terrorist organization (that’s not hyperbole, people) Army of God, to whom I refuse to link. This repugnant farce, scheduled to be inflicted upon the citizens of Milwaukee, will celebrate executed murderer Paul Hill, who gunned down abortion provider John Britton and his clinic escort James Barrett. Hill also wounded Britton’s wife in the attack. Here’s how the sick minds sponsoring this “memorial tour” — during which they plan to re-enact Hill’s murders distort the situation: “On July 29th, 1994, Paul Hill boldly defended 31 babies from unspeakable violence by killing a paid assassin and his bodyguard. He was arrested, given a sham trial, and executed as a martyr.”
One simply does not have the warped view of reality presented here, and in the case of Cho, unless one has bizarre beliefs dictating that you have the right to kill and wreak havoc if reality isn’t flattering those beliefs. It’s no different than what motivates Islamist suicide bombers. And it doesn’t happen in the minds of atheists and rationalists with good educations in science and a firm grasp, not only on reality, but on the fact that reality isn’t obligated to revolve around them.