A 24-year-old ski lift operator who fatally shot the general manager of the Eldora ski area was determined to kill co-workers who weren’t Christian, according to court records obtained Thursday.
Ed’s got this covered.
Ed’s not got it covered. Neither side has. A single data point is not data. Even a collection of data points gathered from the press is not data (what is their sampling methodology?). It would be good to see a reliable study comparing violence rates of Christians vs. non, if such a thing is possible.
If you take Stalin out, the Christians win hands down. This is well known and widely accepted by everyone. With Stalin in, they still may win, but it is not as clear.
Wayne, such a study would be illuminating. We do know that atheists comprise 0.2% of the prison population, which is less than scientologists. That would suggest, but in no way prove, that atheists commit less crimes [we certainly don't commit less violent ones; after all, we eat babies]. Given recent events, however, where it was assumed with no data that “he must be an atheist; Christians are going to be persecuted and hunted further if we don’t succeed in reintegrating God into our society,” I believe Ed makes a good point: psychopaths can exist regardless of religious belief, and it’s inappropriate to assume, and commonly report, “he must be godless.”
Really, we need to dismiss the angry atheist meme. Why is it that most people jumped to the conclusion “he attacked a church. He must be an atheist.”? I don’t think that is the result of the rise in militant atheism. I think it is propaganda and I believe it should be challenged vocally as soon it materializes.
Greg, By bringing Stalin into the picture I think you have shifted the question over to governments (ex: “are governments which officially disdain religion more violent”), a great question. I mean to ask it about citizens. As an aside: worldwide in the 20th century, governments killed their own citizens (genocide plus the indirect effects of tyranny such as starvation) at a rate somewhere between 10 and 20 times the murder rate (White, Historical Atlas of the 20th Century).
Jonesi, I don’t trust the percentages of believers in prison to be directly usable as a proxy for violence without disentangling the effects of prison conversions (or loss of faith!), incarceration for non-violent crimes, and any difference in the capture/conviction rates between atheists and Christians.
I have never met a violent atheist.
I forgot to mention that I agree that we need to abandon the “angry atheist” meme. I would generalize that to: abandon the “angry ” meme. Focusing on religion (or lack of), seem odd when mass murderers seem to be set apart from all atheists and believers by (in many cases) untreated mental illness and (in all cases) criminal behavior. To me, it seems pretty simple. Punish criminal behavior, treat mental illness, and either worship, or not, as each of us sees fit.
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