Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
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27-02-2013, 09:09 AM
RE: Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
What did I get out of this thread? Thoughts of sex with Vera. It's that dang atheism stuff...

No. Motherfuckers ever gonna realize atheism is not a moral philosophy? Angry

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27-02-2013, 09:13 AM
RE: Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
(27-02-2013 09:09 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  What did I get out of this thread? Thoughts of sex with Vera.

How's that a bad thing? Dodgy

Quote:No. Motherfuckers ever gonna realize atheism is not a moral philosophy?

The problem is they think (if you can call it that) it's an amoral philosophy.

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27-02-2013, 09:31 AM
RE: Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
Heywood,

The facts paint a very different story to the one you are telling. 73% of Americans self-identify as Christian[1], and 41.6% of the population regularly attend religious services. Let's compare that to the UK where 85% identify as Christian and 6% of people regularly attend services[2]. Wikipedia lists 64 school massacres worldwide, of which one occurred in the UK with 17 killed. The United States has 17 school massacres listed with a total 182 dead and 254 injured[3]. Looking at the figures it seems this is primarily an american problem rather than a worldwide problem, which seems strange if theism or the lack thereof is a factor because the US is I think the most religious nation in the western world by a fairly large margin. If someone were to draw a conclusion based only on these headline statistics it would seem to lead to the opposite conclusion: Something about the high levels of religiosity in the United States or other factors that correlate to this high religiosity might in fact be the cause of these shootings.

Your reasoning hinges on the idea that you have two rooms. In one is an atheist who has a burning desire to commit suicide by way of mass shooting. In another is a theist with the same intent. You reason that the atheist has already decided to end his life, and believing in no afterlife he has no further barriers to his actions and will have a high percentage chance of proceeding. You reason that the theist who believes in an afterlife will think of the burning fires of hell and hold back, reducing his percentage chance of offending.

That's a wacky idea because clearly these two guys are deranged out of their heads. They either don't have clear reasoning processes going on that would allow them to connect their actions to the results of their actions, or they think that the results of their actions will not be too bad or will be no worse than their inaction. Perhaps the theist expects that God is on his side and he will go to heaven a martyr. Perhaps the theist expects that he will go to hell anyway for his suicide or for whatever actions lead up to this point so a few more strikes on his score card won't matter a whole heap. Perhaps the theist expects to be able to repent before he his gunned down by police, thereby guaranteeing him a place in heaven.

Whatever the reason, there is no reason to think that the individual's atheism or theism will influence their percentage chance of offending. For that we would need to move on to actual data.

So here's my challenge:
1. Identify the last 5, 10, or more mass killings of a particular type.
2. Identify the religion (if any) and religiosity of the killer or killers. That is, identify them as theist or atheist and what kind of theist. Identify whether they were attending religious services in the months leading up to the offence.

When you have done that and you are ready to talk about actual facts rather than your own bias to believe your side is good or to believe that the threats of your God are an effective deterrent to crime... then we can talk about what's true and what isn't. Are you prepared to do that research?

[1] 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in...ted_States
[2] 2001, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in...ed_Kingdom
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ram..._massacres

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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27-02-2013, 11:09 AM (This post was last modified: 28-02-2013 04:10 PM by Peanut.)
RE: Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
I am not saying all atheists are the same or think at all like I do. I will say that I can speak for myself and how I feel toward the world.

I watched the news from the morning into the night when the Sandy Hook shooting took place. I couldn't believe someone could hurt a child. I take child abuse very seriously. It hurts my heart.

I was effected by the story in a profound way. I cried for those babies. I couldn't believe those parents kissed [hopefully] their children for the last time that morning.

I was in my high school computer class in 2007 when I heard about the Virginia Tech shootings. I still remember the way I felt sad for humanity.

It hurts to think that people would put me in a group that they believe caused these horrible tragedies. "We need prayer in school." No. Some disturbed person committed these acts on his own.

We can't blame individual instances on a whole group of people. One person doesn't represent the whole beliefs of a given group.

"It was life, often unsatisfying, frequently cruel, usually boring, sometimes beautiful, once in awhile exhilarating." -Stephen King
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27-02-2013, 02:16 PM
RE: Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
(27-02-2013 02:30 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Please don't hate me for starting this thread. Its not an attack on the validity of atheism. I am, however, suspicious that recent mass shootings might be an artifact of a growing trend in this country toward atheistic beleifs. My thinking goes like this: Imagine a pyscopath who believes in God. If that pyschopath get depressed and decides to kill himself he/she might refrain from killing others in the process because of a fear of going to hell. Remove that fear and you remove a layer of protection from innocent people.
I have little time at the moment and haven't read the whole thread, so please forgive me if I repeat something that was already said.

What bothers me most is the way you phrased your question. I would much rather discuss "are more mass shooters atheists than theists" than "is atheism responsible for mass shootings". The first is an honest question. The second seems far more biased toward an expected answer.

What is responsible for mass shootings is very complex and each murderer probably has some unique circumstances compared with others. To think atheism might be the cause or even an important factor is simplistic thinking. Clearly these shootings involve severe mental disturbance and that can come from biological, social, psychological, or environmental factors (drugs, for example) or some combination of those. And there is still so much we don't yet understand about mass shootings.

I have worked directly with people who have schizophrenia and often there is a religious component to the illness. Many schizophrenics have hallucinations of demons, some of which may tell them to go kill people. Others believe they are actually God. So, in a twisted sense, your answer could be that theism is responsible. However, to claim that would be just as inaccurate and wrong as attributing responsibility to atheism.

Finally, when it comes to psychopathology, believing in a deity has no impact on whether a person carries out an action such as mass shootings. They feel compelled because of their illness and it is literally not within their control to stop themselves just because they think a god is watching. Often, they are thinking "I don't want to do this" at some level while they are in the middle of continuing to do the very thing they don't want to do.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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27-02-2013, 04:07 PM
Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
I thought I also heard theories that many of the mass shooters seem to be operating on a need to be recognized by the public, to become famous by whatever means. Sorry I have nothing to cite at this time. If memory serves this would have been a report from doctors studying patterns of many different kinds of killers from single assassins (e. g. Mark David Chapman) to mass murderers (e. g. Eric Harris/Dylan Klebold). There are many exceptions of course, such as those motivated my politics or fear of authority (e. g. Timothy McVeigh).

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27-02-2013, 04:49 PM
RE: Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
(27-02-2013 04:07 PM)Cardinal Smurf Wrote:  I thought I also heard theories that many of the mass shooters seem to be operating on a need to be recognized by the public, to become famous by whatever means. Sorry I have nothing to cite at this time. If memory serves this would have been a report from doctors studying patterns of many different kinds of killers from single assassins (e. g. Mark David Chapman) to mass murderers (e. g. Eric Harris/Dylan Klebold). There are many exceptions of course, such as those motivated my politics or fear of authority (e. g. Timothy McVeigh).
Now that you mention it, yes I have heard that too about the recognition. I'm sure it doesn't apply to everyone, but it certainly could be a factor for some.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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27-02-2013, 04:49 PM
RE: Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
(27-02-2013 02:30 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Please don't hate me for starting this thread. Its not an attack on the validity of atheism. I am, however, suspicious that recent mass shootings might be an artifact of a growing trend in this country toward atheistic beleifs. My thinking goes like this: Imagine a pyscopath who believes in God. If that pyschopath get depressed and decides to kill himself he/she might refrain from killing others in the process because of a fear of going to hell. Remove that fear and you remove a layer of protection from innocent people.
All atheism is, is an answer to a question. Is there a god(s)? How could atheism be responsible for anything by answering a question?

Its not an Ideology or a religion, other atheists may hold to some of my ideologies. Yet, there is nothing in atheism to hold them to a certain ideology unlike religions.

Arguing with a Christian is a lot like playing chess with a pigeon. You can be the greatest player in the world, yet the pigeon will knock over all the pieces, shit on the board and strut away triumphantly.
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27-02-2013, 05:55 PM
RE: Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
(27-02-2013 02:30 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Please don't hate me for starting this thread. Its not an attack on the validity of atheism. I am, however, suspicious that recent mass shootings might be an artifact of a growing trend in this country toward atheistic beleifs. My thinking goes like this: Imagine a pyscopath who believes in God. If that pyschopath get depressed and decides to kill himself he/she might refrain from killing others in the process because of a fear of going to hell. Remove that fear and you remove a layer of protection from innocent people.
i guess id have to find out if any of these shooters are atheists. if they are not (and i suspect they are not) then atheism would have nothing to do with their actions. that is not to say that atheism leads to murder. i could say that a theist at least has something to justify his crimes.
im not sure that psychopaths are concerned with fear. and for the rest of us who understand a basic morality do good things not from fear but because good things are good.
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27-02-2013, 07:01 PM
RE: Is atheism responsible for mass shootings?
(27-02-2013 03:38 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(27-02-2013 02:39 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  The theist psychopath is just as likely to believe that everyone they meet are demons or demon-controlled, and that ridding the world of them is God's will. Do you have any data on whether recent shooters were theist or atheist?

I have no data on any of the shooters. My suspicions are just that. I am in no way making a claim of fact that a rise in atheism is the cause for the recent mass shootings.
I think your claim about the theist pyschopath is outlandish. A theist pyschopath isn't necessarily going to think everyone they meet is a demon etc.
What I am saying is a theists pyschopath maybe restained from committing harm to others by a belief in going to hell. An atheist pyschopath has no such restraint.
Not necessarily. First of all, not all theists believe in hell. Second of all, if a psychopath does what he does regardless of human punishments involved, would he really care about divine punishments?

The symptoms for AsPD, which is a disorder that a lot of people would associate with psychopathy (not all people with AsPD are psychopaths, but a lot of people who are psychopaths fit the criteria for AsPD) are 1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors
as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest, and 2) lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another. Impulsivity is another marked trait.


The point is, if someone is a deviant to one system, there is little chance that another system will impact them either. It's not a problem of good or evil; it's the way that minds are programmed.
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