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Dec 11 2007

Tell me again how theism makes you morally superior?

The latest on the Colorado church shootings:

The gunman was identified as Matthew Murray, 24, who was home-schooled in what a friend said was a deeply religious Christian household.

Gosh, it’s all so confusing.

31 comments

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  1. 1
    Strappado

    Surprise-surprise.Wonder what Chuck Norris will make of this.

  2. 2
    Divided By Zer0

    Of course he was not a true Christian…

  3. 3
    Rhology

    I didn’t realise that growing up in a Christian household equals being a Christian by conviction. What’s your argument for that?

  4. 4
    Ben

    Oh, brother. All Rho has to say is, “I guess it takes more than being a Christian to be a good person.”But he just can’t. Your house is built on a foundation of sand, Rho.

  5. 5
    Rhology

    ?? Why would I say that since the Bible would call NO man good?And you disagree with me apparently but you didn’t provide an argument, I see. That’s fairly telling.

  6. 6
    Martin

    Never made that argument. The point is in rebuttal to all those in the religious community who argue that immoral behavior, especially events like Columbine, can be curtailed simply by forcing prayer back into the schools and pasting Ten Commandments plaques on every surface. Here’s a kid who had massive religious training in his upbringing, went mad somewhere along the way (he heard voices), and whose rampage was triggered by his rejected attempt to join this church’s missionary group. So religion is clearly irrelevant to one’s moral development, and is just as clearly no guarantee of mental health.

  7. 7
    Rhology

    Martin,The title is “tell me again how theism makes you morally superior?” It sure SEEMS like you meant that you thought this shooter believed in a theistic system. But maybe you didn’t mean that. If you didn’t mean that, why not title it “Tell me again how growing up in a Christian household makes you morally superior?” or something like that. And it’s kind of dubious to make an argument from exceptional circumstances against these things you object to (10 Commandments, public prayer, etc). It’s sloppy argumentation.Peace,Rhology

  8. 8
    Martin

    It sure SEEMS like you meant that you thought this shooter believed in a theistic system. But maybe you didn’t mean that.He wanted to join a missionary program, Rho. That tends to be the kind of thing theistic believers do.And it’s kind of dubious to make an argument from exceptional circumstances against these things you object to (10 Commandments, public prayer, etc). It’s sloppy argumentation.Wha? Rho, I’m responding to the Christians who make the argument in favor of those things as some kind of cure-all for society’s ills. Every time some cracked-up kid shoots up his school, the evangelical cretins come out of the woodwork and bleat, “See, this is what happens when you take God and prayer out of schools!” Well, this kid had a lifetime of God and prayer and it didn’t have much of a positive influence on his development, obviously. The point isn’t that being raised Christian made this kid do what he did, it’s that it didn’t prevent it either.So no, I’m not the one making an argument from “exceptional circumstances,” I’m rebutting the one Christians make. What’s sloppy here is your comprehension.

  9. 9
    Tommykey

    The real issue in this case is what tragically happens when mentally disturbed people have access to firearms. Hopefully in the coming days we will have a clearer picture as to what triggered his mental break, how he was able to get his hands on some guns, whether his family may have noticed regarding Matthew Murray’s behavior and what if anything they tried to do to help him.

  10. 10
    Mytho

    Tragic as this is, it is clear that christian education doesn’t make you superior in any case, just makes you think that you’re superior. That’s one of the common trends in religious indoctrination. Since you are christina, that makes you good for default. I can smell the falacy in this kind of reasoning miles away.Of course, if you check the people in jail, less than 2% make up for atheits, ant the rest, guess what! they are theist people! Killing in the name of an invisible fairy father in the sky seems to come with the territory.

  11. 11
    Martin

    Well, let’s be accurate about some details here. Yes, the percentage of atheists in the prison population is lower than it is in the general population. Still, the theists in prison aren’t all jihadists either! A lot more killing in the name of [insert deity here] is going on in Islamic cultures than in Christian ones. The latter practice was helpfully curtailed in the west a few centuries ago with the Enlightenment. Considering our culture’s feverish desire to freefall back into medievalism and give the Islamists a run for their money in the Fundamentalist Irrationality Olympics, I think we’re l-o-n-g overdue for Enlightenment II.

  12. 12
    Rhology

    The words of a “Christian” according to Martin, apparently:“You christians brought this on yourselves,” Murray writes in his 452-word harangue. “I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill.”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.” If he were among us, why would he say “**you** Christians”? Why not “we Christians”? My point… is made. Martin’s point? Not doing so well.

  13. 13
    NAL

    Killer’s rant filled with profanity, hateWell all you people out there can just kiss my ass and die.He didn’t say “we people”, so I assume he doesn’t consider himself a person.

  14. 14
    NAL

    DyingChild_65I was raised in the the teachings of C. Peter Wagner, Bill Gothard, Charismatic and Pentecostal movements and all that other bullshit….Me I’ve heard all the sermons on salvation and shit…I’ve lookedeverywhere for spiritual truth….all I found in christianity was hate, abuse(sexual, physical, psychological, and emotional), hypocrisy, and lies….Kind of sad. /C. Peter Wagner … no relation I presume.

  15. 15
    Martin

    The kid was mentally ill, Rho. He wanted to join their missionary group, they rejected him (evidently because he didn’t have all his oars in the water), and he went berserk. Anyway, how does this in any way refute my point that a theistic upbringing is no guarantee of, and in fact irrelevant to, superior moral development? If all the evangelists who sprout like mushrooms in the wake of school shootings to claim that immersing kids in compulsory school prayer and Biblical “morality” constitutes some kind of magic-bullet inoculation against violent antisocial behavior were right, then this never should have happened. So obviously they aren’t right. This kid had a home-schooled upbringing in a family environment described as “highly religious,” and it didn’t prevent him from turning out this way. This seems to be a fairly obvious fact on its face, yet you seem so bound and determined to prove that no True Christian™ is capable of doing anything bad that you’re willing to ignore it. You haven’t understood my point from the get-go, Rho.

  16. 16
    Rhology

    Speaking of one’s whole point from the get-go…My 1st comment was:I didn’t realise that growing up in a Christian household equals being a Christian by conviction.and thenIt sure SEEMS like you meant that you thought this shooter believed in a theistic system. But maybe you didn’t mean that.If you didn’t mean that, why not title it “Tell me again how growing up in a Christian household makes you morally superior?” or something like that.Your title implies you were trying to make the case that this kid was a theist and that he wasn’t morally superior, ergo a connection.I’m arguing that it doesn’t look like he was a theist, so I don’t see how the connection holds.Face it, the title should be changed to “Tell me again how growing up in a Christian household makes you morally superior?”That’s all I’m saying.

  17. 17
    NAL

    “A Christian household?” More like a Christian environment. Surely you will try to blame it on the clothes I wear, the music I listen to, or the way I choose to present myself- but no. Do not hide behind my choices. You need to face the fact that this comes as a result of YOUR CHOICES. Parents, pastors, christians, YOU FUCKED UP. You have taught these kids to be gears and sheep. To think and act like those who came before them, to not accept what is different. YOU ARE IN THE WRONG. I may have taken their lives and my own- but it was your doing. Teachers, Parents, LET THIS MASSACARE BE ON YOUR SHOULDERS UNTIL THE DAY YOU DIE. His Christian environment created this person. I’m glad I didn’t have to endure his nightmare.

  18. 18
    Martin

    Rho: Since growing up in a Christian household tends to expose one to theism, I really don’t see that you’re making a meaningful distinction here. And as for the killer not looking like a theist, well, we don’t know that. I repeat that his desire to join a missionary group argues for his possessing theistic belief at one point in his life, at least. Anyway, theists kill quite often in the world. And the fact the shooter turned against the Christian community that he felt rejected him may or may not mean he rejected theistic belief, though he may have, as it appears he was rejecting everyone and everything in life itself and planned to go out in a blaze of glory. His rant makes it clear he wants to kill “EVERYONE”, but “especially Christians,” which means if I’d walked into his line of fire he probably wouldn’t have been inclined to spare me if I’d shouted “But I’m an atheist!” The long and short of it is that he was a sick kid, who, like all sickos, blamed everyone but himself for his problems.nal: His Christian environment created this person. I’m glad I didn’t have to endure his nightmare.Well, I wouldn’t necessarily argue that. Only that exposure to Christianity and its vaunted “objective” morals didn’t prevent it. I was raised in a Christian environment too (as were most atheists I know), and while I’ve rejected those teachings it didn’t drive me utterly mad either. What was going on with this kid in all likelihood was an extreme chemical imbalance in the brain, leading to schizophrenia and persecution complexes. When his church rejected him, that gave him the scapegoats he needed to sate his perverted desire for “justice.”

  19. 19
    NAL

    Your Christian environment was probably quite different from his. The people in his environment “speak in tongues”, how utterly irrational is that? To be bombarded with that level of irrationality day after day, would be enough to drive anyone insane.

  20. 20
    Martin

    Well yeah, but so far as we know he’s the only guy who’s gone off half-cocked and shot people up. I’m just saying, be careful about drawing causal connections. It’s just like saying, “Wow, playing violent video games ten hours a day every day, it’s enough to drive anybody insane.” Insanity and its causes are actually quite complex.

  21. 21
    Rhology

    Hi all,His Christian environment created this person.So did his mental derangement, presumably.Since growing up in a Christian household tends to expose one to theism, I really don’t see that you’re making a meaningful distinction here.No distinction? OK. I’m an atheist. I believe in a theistic God. I believe in the supernatural. I believe naturalism and materialism are complete bunk. I believe there is an afterlife with judgment by the Intelligent Uncaused 1st Cause. But I really am an atheist. Seriously. I’ve been exposed to it extensively; I like to call myself an atheist. Can I join your club now?And as for the killer not looking like a theist, well, we don’t know that.I never said “looking like”. I’m referring to whether he WAS a theist. I repeat that his desire to join a missionary group argues for his possessing theistic belief at one point in his life, at least. That’s fine. All I’m saying is the title of your post needs qualification. I’m not claiming theists are perfect.The long and short of it is that he was a sick kid, who, like all sickos, blamed everyone but himself for his problems.Then why not make that the point of your post rather than taking a cheap unjustified poke at theists?Only that exposure to Christianity and its vaunted “objective” morals didn’t prevent itI can see what you mean. You’re right. I’d join you in arguing that such things WOULD prevent it.But to say that it would NEVER help ANYONE is silly. That’s what I mean when I said you’re arguing from the exception. Anyone can do that. People are screwy, by and large.The people in his environment “speak in tongues”, how utterly irrational is that?Got a blog? Present an argument for why it is and I’ll comment.For the record, I don’t believe that glossolalia is justifiable, but presumably for far different reasons than you. It’d be worth the discussion to show you why.Just let me know if you decide to post on that.To be bombarded with that level of irrationality day after day, would be enough to drive anyone insane.I was for 6 yrs and I’m OK.I know many fine people who grew up in that environment.One might say the key difference is that they’re not mentally diseased.Insanity and its causes are actually quite complex.Too complex to justify a drive-by snipe at theism, might one say?Peace,Rhology

  22. 22
    NAL

    nal:To be bombarded with that level of irrationality day after day, would be enough to drive anyone insane.I will try and avoid the use of hyperbole in the future. But I’m only human. rho:I was for 6 yrs and I’m OK.If you consider holding irrational beliefs to be OK, then you’re right.

  23. 23
    Rhology

    Does this mean, NAL, that you’re not going to try to substantiate your assertion?Fine – speaking in tongues is COMPLETELY RATIONAL. Naked assertions can be answered with the same.

  24. 24
    NAL

    A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The decrease in activity of the frontal lobes suggests some degree of an altered state of consciousness. Although a sample size of 5 is awfully small. Glossolalia as a Speech FormT. H. Spoerri has described this speech as “unsemantical conglomerations of sounds” and “as sound externalized without sense which sometimes produces the impression of coherent speech.” The terms “unintelligible,” “meaningless,” and “jibberish” have also been applied to the entities representing this type of speech.Therefore, to consider glossolalia a language would be irrational.

  25. 25
    Rhology

    I won’t argue with “altered state of consciousness”. I’d agree with that myself. I think I didn’t communicate my challenge well enough. On what basis would you say that believing that an encounter with God can provoke speaking in tongues is irrational? That’s what I mean. If you respond here, I’ll probably just respond to it on my blog if I think it’s worth it; I don’t want to hijack this thread any further.

  26. 26
    NAL

    rho:On what basis would you say that believing that an encounter with God can provoke speaking in tongues is irrational? I think that a belief in God is irrational. (That’s why they call it faith.) Reasons Why Atheists Don’t Believe in GodsWithout good reasons to believe in God, belief in God is not reasonable. /This thread is dead anyway. If Martin wants us to take this elsewhere, he’ll tell us. He might even want to join in, hint, hint. If you want to start a thread on glossolalia over at your place, I’ll come over there.

  27. 27
    Rhology

    No educated biblical Christian would agree with that definition of “faith”. And God does exist, BTW, which would make belief in God rational. But agreed, the thread is dead. I just wanted to see what you’d say about the tongues thing. It was as I expected.

  28. 28
    Martin

    I never said “looking like”. I’m referring to whether he WAS a theist.Huh?Rhology earlier: I’m arguing that it doesn’t look like he was a theist…Whatever, Rho.Would it make you happier if I just wrote a whole new post with the same title, but instead talked about John List, Paul Hill, Jim Jones, David Koresh, or Torquemada, folks who were at least more clear about parading their theism as the primary motivator in their crimes? Again, the swipe wasn’t at theists, but at the belief that theism encourages better morals.And God does exist, BTW, which would make belief in God rational.What…Kalam and TAG again? Really? Why not pull out Pascal’s Wager while you’re at it.

  29. 29
    Rhology

    Martin,You said this:And as for the killer not looking like a theist, well, we don’t know that.I responded: I never said “looking like”. I’m referring to whether he WAS a theist.I was asking you why anyone would care if the shooter LOOKED LIKE a theist. I thought the question was at least partially on whether he WAS a theist. Would it make you happier if I just wrote a whole new post 1) To be fair you’d include all the naughty atheists over history.2) And you’d compare body counts.3) I’d be happy if you’d concede that the title of your post is misleading.4) But if you wrote that post you’d be arguing from the exceptions again. 5) And of course the Christian worldview not only accounts for but expects miscreants and murderers to claim the name of Christ for their own personal ends.Kalam and TAG again? Really? Why not pull out Pascal’s Wager while you’re at it.P’sW is good as far as it goes, which isn’t very far. If you’re so sure that Kalam and TAG are bunk, why don’t you write a post on each and explain yourself? Peace,Rhology

  30. 30
    NAL

    rho:5) And of course the Christian worldview not only accounts for but expects miscreants and murderers to claim the name of Christ for their own personal ends.The Christian worldview and the atheist worldview agree on this point.

  31. 31
    Jon

    Wow, has this argument gone far beyond its real core. The fact is that A Christian upbringing does not make anyone anything, especially not morally superior. The person still must make a personal decision in their heart to accept Christ, in order to change their life. Additionally, a Christian upbringing may mean a person will be under greater attack from evil forces, since the demons would want even more to draw these people away from God. So, if a person is under much greater attack from evil forces, which want to keep them away from God, when they finally give in they will usually fall far. Furthermore, our morals come from God whether you are a theist an atheist you receive a consciousness of right and wrong from God, not society. Denying the source of it does not mean you do not have this, and cannot exercise moral discretion. An atheist usually does not completely reject this morality; they just reject the source of their morality. This is why an atheist can still live a good life, which will not count for anything in eternity. As the Bible says if you break one point of His law you have broken the whole law and are guilty.The concepts of the Bible are extremely powerful for good or evil, which is why: when a religion falls into heresy they become extremely powerful forces for evil. Accordingly, someone who is not serious about Christianity can use the powerful concepts of the Bible for evil. Joseph Stalin, who at one point was in training to become a preacher, likely understood the some of the powerful concepts of the Bible and killed many people by exploiting our human nature for evil. As the saying goes a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, and so a person with some concepts of Christianity can be extremely dangerous. However, true Christianity is an extremely powerfully force for good, when used properly and not perverted. Conversely, atheism has no power for good, and usually atheists are not convinced enough to follow the forces of evil whole heartily either. However, as the Bible says there is no middle ground, as you are either for God or against God; and so atheists often unwittingly become a force which is undermining Christianity and planting doubt while attempting to artificially built their own system of morality, which actually incorporates basic Christian principles of right and wrong. Although, the atheist denies the source, every chance they get.

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