Saturday, December 15, 2012
God, Guns, and Mental Illness
So yet another rohrshach test in the news reveals the pet peeves of us all. We hate and mistrust someone because of something that they do wrong.
Two of my previous blog posts are getting a lot of hits this weekend:
(about stupid statements of "faith" after tragedy)
(review of some of the research on rampage killing)
People came to my bit about stupid expressions of faith after a tragedy via keywords such as "angel taking children to heaven" or "child angels in heaven." The latter is due to shameless self-promotion in blog comments at Pharyngula and sharing with some atheist facebook friends.
The Connecticut killings are probably more of a "workplace" killing than "school killing," because the killer wasn't a student, and if he was a former student, he had left the school ten earlier. The Dunblane massacre comes to mind.
Would belief in God stop someone who's got that toxic soup brewing in their brain? Maybe, but I doubt it. More likely, the same forces that make self-annihilation attractive could make belief in God untenable. Or in the case of Andrea Yates, belief in God would be an ingredient in the toxic soup.
It's easy to understand how primitive people could believe in "demons" that would turn an ordinary person into a killer. Someone in the right frame of wrong frame of mind might even respond to voodoo designed to cast out those demons, but sometimes the human mind and brain just isn't right and those of us with functioning minds and brains can probably never comprehend their actions completely. They are alien to us, and so whatever is alien to our self-image would naturally be part of our assumptions. Atheists are aliens to religious people, so *thwap* there's one assumption slapped onto the story. Those of us who are sane find crazy people alien so *splat!* there's another one. The result is a rorschah blot that may resemble the story on the surface but only if we saw that pattern to begin with.