Was James Holmes an Atheist? Religious motivations for Colorado Batman Movie Shooting

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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonemeAnonemus Anthony Anonemous

    LOL, ”
    why did He allow this to happen? ”

    Read the bible, you will understand why god allows it to happen.

    The same reason god allows you to make any choice you desire. God gave us everything, now all you have to do is return the favor… just as you give energy to enter the keys on the board… it’s your doing that is your gift… god gave us flesh, now it’s our choice how to use it.

    • dazvort

      What version? Do we get the unedited version? How about all the cannons and writtings that are not included? He can do anything though…took him 6 days to create the earth but only 1 to create hundreds of trillions of stars, not to mention that in the bible π=3.00…but wait if that one mistake is in there could there be others? Yes, by all means read that book all the wrong answers are there for you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonemeAnonemus Anthony Anonemous

    If you want answers, read JOB in the bible.

  • Blahahaha

    Christ was a firm advocate of civil disobedience. He frequently advised his followers to disobey religious mandates of the day. Of course this man was an atheist. You cannot be a neuroscientist and be religious without being severely mentally ill.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wesley.nemes Wesley Nemes

    If you think Atheism is to blame think twice. How many people died throughout the history in the name of God? Religious people are often very intolerant to others and gladly kill with justification that they are killing God’s enemy. Look up Christian doings during Crusades and Muslim extrimists in more current time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/margie.franzen Margie Franzen

    The sexual abuse of children is rampant among the righteous, yes, it is done to make them suffer in the name of the lord almighty, rarely does the priest, mormon cult leader, school teachers ever suffer for their wicked deeds. No, the childs suffering is akin to the slaughtering of lambs, since the accuser thinks the Gods are listening and will favor them in heaven.

    • James

      But you give up any claim to rationality if you say something like that with no data to back it up. Can you break down sexual abuse of children by religion? I seem to remember reading that Catholic preists are, percentage-wise, less likely to sexually abuse someone that the average school teacher. Does that mean that sexual abuse is “rampant” in public education? If we are going to accuse faith-people of being crazy, we have to not talk like crazy people.

      • http://www.holyblasphemy.net Derek Murphy

        Thanks James; I don’t have any data to back up my claims, and I’m not going to do the research. I have a gut feeling that you’re wrong. If you had evidence and data to support your faith, I might feel the need to defend my lack of faith or animosity with more research. But since you don’t, let’s just both spout opinions at each other based on our emotional responses and call it even.

        • James

          No, that’s a cop-out. The person making wild claims about groups of people has the burden of proof. If I said, “all atheists are child molesters” I’d better have something to back that up with. It wouldn’t be your responsibility to prove me wrong.

          There is a real problem in the atheist community of an unwillingness to use data when attacking Christians. This is called a “baseless accusation.” For example, how many times have you heard people say that religion is the cause of most war? One blogger actually sat down with the Encyclopedia of Wars and broke it down. Turns out 3% of the wars in all of history were fought over religion. 7% if you really stretch it to include any war with a religious element that was technically fought for a non-religious reason.
          Things aren’t true just because you and other atheists keep repeating them to one another. That is unethical, regardless of what you believe or don’t believe.

          • http://www.holyblasphemy.net Derek Murphy

            Thanks – you’re right. My last comment was silly and lazy. Also it looks like your original comment was directly at Margie’s bizarre one about child abuse, which I didn’t catch. You’re right, evidence, facts and research is always warranted.

          • Joseph Mo

            Well, the Iraq war was fought because Jesus told George bush to invade. The war heroes like american sniper were Christians with a hard on for killing infidels. But I bet your apologetic encyclopaedia written by the Christians who won the wars doesn’t count Iraq as a religious war. FUNNY HOW THAT WORKS. You’re a huge hypocrite

        • Joseph Mo

          That’s totally what James did… Then below he goes in with the typical Christian hokier than thou stuff. I’ve noticed this amongst all people who were raised Christian even if they become agnostic. There’s something very ugly that rears its head when you’ve been raised to think that your are sky-daddy’s special boy. So pathetic and hypocritical.

      • Joseph Mo

        The thing is, the catholic church knows about child rapists and doesn’t proswcute them or even report them. Instead they transfer them to new parishes with new children to rape. In the secular world, we don’t protect pesos for Jesus. No reason to, because we don’t believe in your pathetic myths.

  • Tourist Update

    I listened to youtube broadcast by Sam Harris & it looks like the perp.’s mother took him from church to church trying multiple exorcisms. He must’ve seen an Alienist at some point, as I know one saw he was a danger & said so in her report.
    Guess the exorcisms where just a waste of time — how much better would it have been if he’d been seen and sectioned.
    What a sad, awful mess. My thoughts are with the victims & I guess I’ll donate something towards the medical costs, which are going to be horrific.

  • Joseph Mo

    Another right wing, cultural if not believing christian. But more likely a believing one.

  • SuperTech86

    What mental midget wrote this drivel.