Saturday, July 30, 2011

Norweigan mass killer Brevik is right-wing Christian Darwinist evil

Predictably, folks have been trying to pin Anders Behring Brevik's killing spree on various ideologies- conservatism, Christian fundamentalism, Darwinism, etc. (here here here here).

Leave me out of this nonsense. 

Brevik is an evil mass murderer. I suspect that he is a diagnosable paranoid schizophrenic, although I have no specific evidence of that. He represents no ideology. He's a cold hearted bastard who shot helpless kids close up. He doesn't deserve to be ennobled with an ideological label.

Of course, my adversaries will say 'Of course Egnor denies Brevik's ideology, because Brevik is a conservative Christian, yada..yada..'

No. Let me explain.

I recall Walter Cronkite on TV on the day of JFK's assassination, before Oswald's identity was known, saying that right wingers in Texas were dangerous folks and clearly implying that they were responsible for  Kennedy's assassination. Yet he knew nothing of the real assassin or of his motives. 

I've thought a bit about Cronkite's assertion since, and it makes me sick. It was a horrible time of national anguish and this sleazebag (Cronkite) was using the opportunity to slander conservatives without a shred of evidence. Cronkite was a typical media liberal. He should have been fired on the spot. 

Whenever some nut shoots people, ideologues line up to paint the guy's motives as examples of the ideology they oppose. It is cheap stuff, and diminishes those who do it. 

Two lessons:

1) It is unwise and unethical to attribute evil acts to anyone before all the facts are in. Speculation without facts is slander.

2) Ideas are not discredited because some evil nut does something and attributes his act to the idea.

Marxism wasn't discredited by Oswald's assassination of JFK. Environmentalism wasn't discredited by the Unabomber's mailbombings. Darwinism wasn't discredited by the Columbine shooters' endorsement of 'natural selection'. Conservatives weren't discredited by Jared Laughner's massacre in Tucson. Liberals weren't discredited by Bill Ayers' bombings in the 70's.

The truth of an idea is not determined by the invocation of that idea by a nut. There are lots of nuts and lots of ideas. The combinations are endless.

The evaluation of the truth of an idea-- the truth of Marxism or Christianity or atheism or Darwinism-- is a complex and subtle matter, based on all sorts of insights. Anecdotes based on psychopaths are worthless.

I do believe that the real world consequences of ideas matter enormously, and thoughtful analysis of the impact of ideas is essential. But the real world consequences of ideas aren't discernible in the wanton acts of psychopaths. The 'psychopath' component of the crazy act is always so much bigger than the 'idea' component of the crazy act that attribution of the crazy act to an idea is flawed from the start.

To attribute acts to ideas, we need to understand the broad impact of ideas among people who aren't psychopaths. The old adage about religion is untrue about religion in isolation, but is true about ideas:

'Bad people have always done bad things. But really bad ideas are ideas that motivate good people to do bad things'

Ideas do matter, and it's perfectly legitimate to draw conclusions from genuine insight. For example, this is what history (not forensic psychiatry) reveals:

1) Atheism always has produced tyranny when it has been a governing ideology. 

2) Darwin's understanding of man was the philosophical basis for modern eugenics. 

3) Christianity is the core of Western science, art, law, and morality. 

These observations are true, and important. 

I don't like cheap tactics when they are used by my intellectual opponents, and I don't like them when they are used by my allies. Anders Behring Brevik' was no Darwinist, and no Christian, and no atheist, and no conservative. He was a psychopath, which transcends ideology. Anecdotes about the ramblings of spree killers are cheap rhetorical shots.

There are important issues about atheism, morality, Darwinism and Christianity, but nothing is gained by sifting a madman's spew. Discerning truth is a matter of history, sociology, philosophy, political science, logic, etc. Once you're into forensic psychiatry, truth fades in relevance, and idiosyncratic psychopathology is determinant.


  1. Soooo ... Doc Egg disagreed with the whole inspired by eugenics/darwinism theory that ENV putted forth ???

    wow... the theory sounded so good XD but now you made me re-think the whole deal.

  2. I agree completely. This horror was madness. In my capacity I was obliged to skim Breivick's 'manifesto'. He is ALL over the place in it. There is no single line of thought, no single Anders that we see in there, but rather a maniac who reinvents himself constantly to suit his fantasies. Knight, Liberal, Conservative, Social Darwinist; they're all in there.
    Given a bit more time Bonaparte and the 'Klingons' would have been too.

  3. lol XD the klingons!!!

    it those were in the manifesto I would be amazed XD. How come Start trek Created such a not nerdy person XD

  4. I agree with much what you wrote, Mike. I should take exception with one of your numbered points, however.

    Atheism is a worldview, but it is not an ideology. Unlike the former, the latter has specifically stated goals. I can see how militant atheism can be viewed as an ideology because it sets the goal of destroying religion. But atheism in general does not.

    This applies more broadly. Islam is not an ideology, but Islamism is.

  5. @oleg:

    [Atheism is a worldview, but it is not an ideology. Unlike the former, the latter has specifically stated goals. I can see how militant atheism can be viewed as an ideology because it sets the goal of destroying religion. But atheism in general does not.]

    I understand your point, but I don't quite agree. Certainly its true that atheism doesn't have a magesterium, like Catholicism, and it doesn't have a holy book, etc. Atheism is not a centralized movement, in the sense of a church, etc.

    But atheism is very much an idea, and the idea has logical consequences.

    For example, atheism pretty much precludes objective morality (atheists of course can be and are moral people, but they don't have the option of logically asserting that morality is objective). Atheists can't believe in any sort of ultimate justice, in the sense of Final Judgement.

    I also don't see how atheists can believe in the rationality of the universe. If there is no Creator, whence rationality of inanimate matter?

    And atheists can't believe in any inalienable rights. The concept of 'rights' presupposes a Source beyond man. Rights without a transcendent source are merely opinions, to be expunged when someone with more power is able to expunge them.

    Atheism is an idea, with profound consequences.

  6. An idea is not an ideology, Mike. Ideas themselves do not have consequences. Consequences follow when people apply ideas in practice. Disbelief in God does not logically lead people to murder millions.

    "Objective morality" is a nice idea but it does not exist. I have pointed out on another thread that Christians follow only those parts of God's advice which they find sensible. You do not follow Leviticus 24:16, Deuteronomy 22:11, Deuteronomy 22:23-24 and so on and so forth. There may be an objective morality out there, but you don't practice it, you practice a human interpretation of it. It's pretty easy to see that morality has evolved over millennia, so whether you call it subjective or objective subject to interpretation, the result is the same.

  7. Oleg,
    Nice to see you concede some points. Also, I should like to say thanks for having the respect to capitalize the word 'God'. Not only is that proper English, but it shows you are not completely resentful of the faithful. Deserves a nod in my view.

    The matter (pun intended) you take issue with, I actually agree with you on! (I know, I almost fell over too!)
    I see Atheism as kind of 'bridge over' or 'work around' NON-belief in a larger ideologies. Not an ideology in itself; although it does increasingly have many traits of an actual movement.
    Perhaps another way of putting it would be: Atheism itself is simply the avoidance of a set of issues (origins, meaning, morality etc etc) and is convenient to members of certain ideologies. It is a LACK of ideological stance / thought on a subject.
    That said, I think Atheism has been an integral vacuum utilized by larger NASTY ideologies. Atheism has a poor track record of philosophical and political play mates.
    A little tautology of my own? Perhaps this poor track record is due the reasons stated by Dr Egnor above.
    So in short, Oleg, I agree that "non belief in God" does not logically lead to the murder or millions. It is when that absence of understanding is combined with with ACTS of your 'subjective morality' (a result of that materialist bent) that millions die in the name of things like 'progress'.
    That is where we part ways, Oleg. I do not see it as the pathogen itself, rather a symptom of it's presence.
    Sorry about the buggy analogy, its the only I could think of that fits at the moment.

  8. Michael,

    Regarding your three 'facts':

    1. Your argument about atheist regimes would be strengthened if you consider all dictatorships and all democracies, and the importance of religion in them. I can think of any number of theistic dictatorships. One from the 20th century being Franco's Spain, supported by the Catholic Church and also guilty of persecution of its enemies even after the civil war ended.
    Democracies, particularly liberal democracies, in which the rights of minorities are protected from the tyranny of the majority, have a pretty good record in cases where the government is secular.
    Hitler, Stalin and Mao only came to power because of the mistakes and crimes committed by theistic dictatorships (the German Kaiser, the Austrohungarian emperor, the Russian Tsar and Japanese Shintoism with its emperor worship.

    2. Science is judged on whether it's true or not. You don't reject physics because it gave us understanding of the trajectory of artillery, bombers and nuclear bombs. You don't reject chemistry because it gave us poison gasses. You don't reject microbiology because it gave us germ warfare.
    So why reject evolutionary biology? Darwin wrote on many occasions that 'is' in nature shouldn't be 'ought' with regard to humans.

    3. All history is contingent. If past rulers hadn't made the decisions they made, then history might very well have turned out differently.
    The early Muslims were actually scientifically advanced from their inheritance of Greek philosophers. Algebra is from an Arabic word. Many of the named stars are Arabic in origin. Spherical geometry was started by the Arabs. If a 10th century hadn't suppressed intellectual thought, we might now be speaking Arabic and insisting that Islam is the path to science, etc.
    The Chinese before the 15th century were the world's dominant power. If a 16th century Chinese emperor hadn't decide to destroy his ocean going fleet, then we might be now speaking Chinese and insisting that Confucianism was the path to enlightenment.
    Western science and philosophy owes more to Ancient Greek philosophy than Christianity. Arab Islamists took the writings of the Greek philosophers, translated and passed it clockwise around the Mediterranean to Spain, which then became a centre of learning. And then when the Christians took Spain back, the Greek philosophies were reintroduced to Christianity.
    Another reason for the development of Western science and philosophy was because Europe was an impossible continent to unite, too many major rivers, mountain ranges, peninsulas, so if one country refused to invest in science or technology, another would and gain the advantage, so there was a serious disadvantage in trying to stop the clock of progress.

    Actually, I've read that Breivik might not be a psychopath, nor might he be insane. One British expert on terrorism noted that when he went on his shooting spree, he was actually wearing headphones and was listening to very loud music to drown out the screams of his victims, to avoid his empathy kicking in. Breivik seems to have adopted a bizarre worldview, but all his subsequent steps are sort of rational. His first premise was wrong, liberal political parties are deliberately aiming to destroy what Breivik believes is important, but all of his subsequent steps were logical. If his initial premise was true, then his actions would have been justified and true too. But his initial premise was false, so that made his actions wrong too.

    Christianity hasn't had a particularly good record in preventing evil. I previously noted the Albigensian Crusade. For something more contemporary, how about the South American churches justifying slavery on the basis of Biblical scripture? Abolition was accomplished in contradiction to Scripture, not following it.

  9. @bachfiend:

    Oh, where to start.

    [Christianity hasn't had a particularly good record in preventing evil. I previously noted the Albigensian Crusade.]

    Why do you guys have to go back 800 years to find Christian atrocities. I can cite atheist atrocities today (N. Korea)

    [For something more contemporary, how about the South American churches justifying slavery on the basis of Biblical scripture? Abolition was accomplished in contradiction to Scripture, not following it]

    The abolition of slavery is a uniquely Christian movement. Slavery in many non-Christian cultures too much longer to eradicate, and in some, persists.

    The British slave trade was ended by William Wilberforce, who did it for explicitly Christian reasons. The American abolitionist movement was almost entirely Christian (John Brown, Garrison, etc).

    The American Civil Rights movement was run almost entirely out of churches (Rev. MLK, Rev. Ralph Albernathy, Southern Christian Leadership Association, Ebeneezer Baptist Church).

    Name the atheist organizations who fought slavery.

  10. @bachfiend:

    1) All atheist governments have been totalitarian. There is no reply.

    2) The Darwinian understanding of man is the basis for modern eugenics. That does not prove Darwinism wrong. But if Darwinism is wrong, it is good reason to fight it vigorously.

    3) Christianity is the basis for modern science. Your historical claims about Islam are ignorant.

    Following Muslim conquest in the century after Mohammed's death, only a small percentage of people in Muslim lands were Muslim- generally no more than 10%. This is because the Muslims could tax the dhimmi, but they couldn't tax Muslims, so no effort was made to convert conquered people en masse. Most of the Muslim 'scholarship' of the 10th to 13 th centuries was from non-Muslims who lived in conquered lands and who retained classical learning (generally in monasteries).

    By the 14 th cenury, most people in Muslim lands were actually Muslim, and that is just when 'Muslim scholarship' died.

    Islam is a deeply ignorant anti-scientific faith, and it has always been so.

    Learn some history.

  11. Mike wrote: Why do you guys have to go back 800 years to find Christian atrocities. I can cite atheist atrocities today (N. Korea)

    Does the fact that it happened 800 years ago somehow diminish the nature of the problem? I don't think so.

    Let's also not forget the Thirty Years' War, which started as a religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants and ended up reducing the population of the affected regions by 15 to 30%.

    The "objective morality" that we find in the Bible can at times be pretty repugnant from today's perspective. I'd like to see you explain the genocide of the Canaanites, apparently sanctioned from on high. Is that a shining example of moral high ground or is that an aberration?

  12. Michael,

    OK, I wrote that innovation in Islamic science finished earlier than it did. I disagree with your assertion that Muslims weren't doing science in Islamic countries. In the lists of science and mathematics being done in Islamic countries, muslims predominate. The opinion about the importance of Islam in preserving and propagating science and mathematics range greatly, ranging from your opinion that Islam just passively transmitted Greek philosophy to Western Europe to the other extreme that Islam was critical in developing the scientific method. You share your opinion with the atheist Bertrand Russell, so actually you're in very good company.

    The point about dictatorships is that the opinions of the tyrant can be forced on the population, which doesn't apply to liberal democracies, with their protection of the rights of minorities.

    It's difficult to imagine any secular democracy with a majority of atheists suppressing religion.

    There have been plenty of theistic dictatorships which have forced the rulers' preferred religion on their subjects. Pointing to the few regimes ruled by atheists which were dictatorships doesn't prove that atheism is dangerous in the same way that my pointing to dictatorships run by theists doesn't prove that theists are equally or more dangerous.

    Wilberforce campaigned against slavery because he realized it was morally wrong, not as part of a church. There were churches that actively supported slavery. South African apartheid was actively supported by the Dutch reformed church on biblical grounds.

    There weren't any atheist organizations when the campaign to abolish slavery was in full swing, so your argument lacks any force. Darwin himself was horrified with his experience of slavery in South America in his voyage on the 'Beagle'.

    As an Australian, the American president I most admire is Abraham Lincoln, and it doesn't matter to me whether he enacted the Emancipation Proclamation for religious or secular reasons. Good ideas are good regardless of the person who made them or the motives for them.

  13. Back to normal, I see.
    Avoid, obfuscate,ignore, and deny.
    Thanks for addressing my points again(sarcasm).
    The ignorance of atheists is typically only outweighed by their arrogance and incivility.
    This conversation is typical.
    Islam saved science, Christianity as a oppressor etc etc.... very good Dhimi speak!
    Where did you get your degrees, Bach? TEHRAN? BEIJING? Read a book.
    Your attempts to take the conversation back to the Crusades against the Cathars? AGAIN?
    Go look up the Bogomils while you are at it! How long till the Auto de fey, or the Jews of York come up?
    You're arguments are TIRED and would not hold water in a high school history debate.
    YES, the fact something happened 800 years ago is relevant (not diminished). 800 years have passed...get it? People and society have changed. Warfare has changed.
    When was the last time an actual Christian regime killed thousands? Round up down in centuries if you like.
    How about an Atheist regime(s) that killed tens/hundreds of MILLIONS? How long ago was THAT? 800 years? 200? 100?
    Slavery? Good God!
    You blame THAT on Christianity? Why not the wheel, pull, and wedge too.. oh yes! You see those as positive,and Christianity is ALL bad...
    Or murder, extortion, prostitution or theft?
    Better get some yellow crosses on those Untermenschen and get them into camps, eh? Root of all evil etc.
    "Wilberforce campaigned against slavery because he realized it was morally wrong, not as part of a church. "
    Is a typically vapid comment from the GNU's. One can almost hear the wind whistle through the Eustachian tubes.
    Religion is an evil influence when it suits them, and non at all when it does not. WRONG and morality are only applied when USEFUL.
    Dr Egnor's olive branch has been used to build a gallows by the Atheists, who have promptly hanged themselves with it.
    Again, TYPICAL.

  14. auto-da-fé**
    Sorry syntax/CAPS. My only form of emphasis on this tablet.

  15. @bachfiend - I have idea how you can find the energy to sustain yourself in this den of insanity. But, keep it up, perhaps you can save one poor soul.

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  17. From what I heard Brevik was only culturally Christian. He was an atheist-Christian.

    Oleg, the Canaanites would sacrifice their babies to their pagan gods while having orgies with the temple priests and priestess. The Canaanites were morally bankrupt for 400 years before anything was done. Is it merciful to the children who are being merciless killed to continue to allow this to happen to them?

    God is loving and wants people to stop sinning and killing people. It is important to know that Yahshua came to this earth to save people from their sins and that he is God in flesh and that He has great love, mercy, and compassion for you. Believe in Him and His word and you will be saved.