A 24-year-old neuroscience doctoral candidate in a Batman costume walks into a theater… it sounds like the beginning of a joke, but we know this story has a tragic conclusion.
And now begins the fight for James Holmes’ Soul. Here is the expected Christian response, from thread on Huffington Post:
Expect to see more of this, as we continue to move toward a Godless secular culture with no respect or recognition of authority or value for human life. A society that glorifies violence, deviant sexual behavior, & civil disobedience. Right & wrong is relative and has given way to the more popular political correctness. We surely aren’t so naive as to think that the harvest we reap will not be from the seed that we sow?
Conclusion: a society of infidels that turn their backs on God and Religion will produce more violence. It doesn’t even matter if Holmes was an Atheist; his actions were caused by Atheism.
But we need to look deeper. Holmes was raised in a “church going family.” While that doesn’t make him a Christian, it does make the Biblical world-view a condition of his upbringing.
This article even claims Holmes walked into a church a few weeks before the shooting, then walked out again (Warning: the article smells like BS cooked up by an evangelical youth pastor to capture media attention to me.)
One commenter on Yahoo answers says “Obviously, he wasn’t a Christian, or he would’ve never done this.”
(Even if he went to Church every week, Christians can claim he wasn’t really a Christian).
This post claims he was a pawn of Satan.
Trying to tie James Holmes’ actions into his religious beliefs (or lack thereof) is important. We can’t accept or condone his actions, so we need to disown him.
He was “crazy” or “mentally unstable.”
The truth is, he was probably very intelligent, and troubled by emotional instability.
But why, oh why, are the precise conditions in America consistently producing psychos who go crazy and go on a gun rampage? This rarely happens in other countries. (Admittedly most likely due to gun laws).
So is America’s Atheism the problem? Or is it its Religion?
Belief in God allows you to Justify Anything
Here’s one thing I’ve come to learn: once you believe that life is meaningful, that God loves you and you are chosen, your life can become an epic fantasy of meaningful coincidence. Everything is a divine message. Everything is a temptation from Satan. You find meaning everywhere, which justifies your belief system.
From this standpoint, it is easier to convince yourself that God wants you to do something crazy. Very crazy things have been done because it was believed God wanted it done.
Although Christians would like to blame this one on Satan, the truth is nobody worships Satan or listens to Satan. Satan is the excuse Christians have for giving into their evil impulses and saying that they were overwhelmed by a malicious, powerful, external force. Then they can be easily absolved and forgiven. They were victims.
Satan is an excuse to do bad things. Atheists, who don’t believe in Satan, never fall victim to the voices urging them to commit atrocities – because they know it’s all in their head and they probably need to get prescribed something to fix a brain imbalance.
Atheists are probably too non-committal to work up the gumption to take this kind of serious, life or death action. Because we know life just isn’t that important. We take things as they come and do the best we can. There aren’t the same enormous stakes (eternity of bliss or punishment) involved.
It is true that the process of going from religious certainty to doubt and meaninglessness can be emotionally trying. Depression, frustration, loneliness – these can all be experienced, especially if you grew up in a very Christian Household and suddenly you don’t believe anymore. You’re an outcast. A Heretic. You are unloved.
It can be a terrifying experience. Still, most people at this point may tragically take their own life. Rarely do they mass-murder.
Statistics prove that there are far more Christians in prison for violent crimes than Atheists.
If anything, this shows that Christianity is not a deterrent for violence.
In fact, if you Google “Church Shootings” you’ll discover that there were more public shootings in Churches in the last couple years than there were in schools!
Something about the religious climate in America is producing violence somehow related to its Christian institutions. This should be a warning sign of some kind.
Of course I don’t think that Christian beliefs were the cause of the shooting, but it is equally ridiculous to suggest that Atheism was.
The truth lies somewhere in the foment of raging animosity and uncertainty in the middle of these two extremes.
Should we pray for the victims?
President Obama is already drawing fire for praying for the victims:
“I hope all of you will keep the people of Aurora in your hearts and minds today,” Obama said. “May the Lord bring them comfort and healing in hard days to come.”
I feel very, very bad for the loss of life, the spontaneous, unmerited, unrighteous and meaningless deaths involved in this tragedy.
But why pray to God now? Should I pray for God to comfort the families (why did He allow this to happen?) Should I pray for the souls of the victims? (God has already decided which of them will go to Heaven and Hell, and I’m certain my prayer won’t influence his decision). In fact, if any one of those victims was an Atheist, and is going to Hell because God allows this kind of violence to take place, then Shame on God.
This may sound terribly callous and self-centered. You may think I need to be more sensitive, (and I am awfully, horrifyingly sensitive… even about publishing this post).
But I think Religion is involved in this issue. I think it’s a mistake to ignore it.
God is the thing we want to turn to and ask tough questions like “Why did this happen?” But there is no answer from God.
I understand that God, and religion, and community, will be the mechanisms in place to help people deal with this terribly tragedy, and I’m fine with that. They need something to rely on. They need to believe comforting things like “God has a Plan” and “Nothing happens with a reason” and “They’re in a better place now.”
These are the comforts that religion has always provided.
But unfortunately some parts of this system are broken. How did James Holmes fall through the cracks of society; even when involved in Church and School. How does a society allow an individual to be so alone that he can do things like this without anyone noticing?
This is not just the failure of one conscience. This is a failure for America.