I've been reading the book Taken from Home by Eric Francis, about the murders almost certainly committed by Michael Blagg, of his wife and daughter.
They were very intense born-again Christians. The book has long excerpts from Jennifer's diary. Very repetitious and boring - she goes on and on about her relation to "God". "God" is very involved in her thoughts, can read her mind of course, very concerned with her state of mind.
It seems to me that "God" for her, was a way of suppressing what she felt was bad in herself. God as a way of repressing your real feelings.
This also seems to be true for Michael Blagg. He was considered very "holy" by some other Christians. He had developed a huge capacity for lies and rationalization. He was under surveillance by the police before they arrested him, and they found he was stealing from his employer. But he gave rationalizations for this to the police, and only after hours of questioning did he admit to stealing.
It seems that under his surface "holiness", he had quite other feelings. He had no financial need to steal from his employer, so stealing likely indicates hidden anger.
And probably when he murdered his wife, he "snapped" - feelings that had been buried, surfaced explosively. They had been having fights, and something triggered him to do the unthinkable - shoot his wife while she was sleeping. And then, probably, he murdered his daughter.
Religious people insist that of "God" is everything good. But the born-again kind of belief in "God" may actually be their enemy, by keeping hidden feelings buried, and keeping them from processing traumatic things that happened to them as children.
I can see how Christopher Hitchens would characterize this kind of God as a tyrant.
I wasn't raised religious either. Sometimes when the born-agains talk, it sounds obsessive-compulsive.
watch this and replace aliens (from millions of lightyears away ~ : P
with dark side/faith side pedoes like that POS Castro.. and his neighbor wtf!?!
Christians fool themselves on many fronts. I have a lifelong friend who got involved with another woman while his marriage was on the rocks. He's re-married now today, and was once involved in a scandal where the minister and my friend took church money and bought cattle. At another time he was with a group that was angry with a certain minister and they took baseball bats to the windshilds of certain cars to solve the problem. (He has no idea that I know any of this.)
He "talks to Jesus" every day and says he just could not make it without god. He wants me to "come back to the church" but I'm not out to him, so he has no idea how delusional I think he is. This man is proof that everybody is pretty much the same, but christians might be worse because they know "they can get forgiveness."
Step this activity up a bit and you might get murderers and the killing of abortion doctors. It's pretty easy for people to say something was a "sin" and god told them to do it. The whole time "god" was just a dark side of their mind.
I am amazed over and over at how much self-deception people are capable of. I don't mean just in terms of religion, although Michael Blagg's religiousness seems to have trained him in self-deception - pretending to be one way, under the surface another.
Michael Blagg insists he's innocent, even though the evidence against him is damning. Likely, he has convinced himself that he's innocent. So much deception, he managed in the end even to "forget" about having murdered someone.
We want as people to have a picture of how other people's minds work. Usually we do. We expect it, and at least on a mundane level, we get this understanding.
And when we can't understand - it raises red flags - not only uneasiness but even alarm.
I suspect, only on the strength of observing friends, family & neighbors, that religion reigns in more of the truly amoral or immortal people than it empowers. We just don't hear about them. When someone says to me that it's impossible to be moral without God, it makes me think that they don't know what it is to have a personally developed moral sense, and maybe it's good that their church provides one. I don't know, maybe their ability to develop morals was stunted by exposure to religion as a substitute. I don't think that religion very often makes someone an asshole, just maybe sometimes more of an asshole because it gives them haven and some religions hand out "get out of jail free" cards as incentive for the very worst among us to join. There's probably a reason why prison populations report greater religiosity than the population at large.
Religion does encourage sloppy thinking, believing what you want to believe. It encourages people to be dis-integrated, to have a surface personality and to be estranged from what they really feel underneath.
But I agree, people like Michael Blagg are rare. His mind probably does work differently from our mental model of how other people's minds work.
There are people who "lose time", who go into a state where they don't remember later what they did. Like people with multiple personalities - that's an extreme example of being estranged from some part of oneself.
When people says it's impossible to be moral without God, it means that in their perspective God contains their moral sense. They see their moral sense as being something outside themselves. This is an illusion, and if they lost their faith, their moral sense would come back to be inside themselves.
An ex-Christian told me once that deconverting meant that "God" came back inside himself. "God" was a part of himself which seemed very much like something external at one time.
That's a very good point Laura. I think what we're mainly talking about here is that illusion of dualism, that an agent not oneself is acting within one's life. That can be a very dangerous self-reinforcing mechanism for someone who already has schizophrenic tendencies, and it's just such people who are attracted to religion.
Luara has some good points here. At one time in my life I was "protected and guided" by a "guardian." This would make sense to a man into Hermetics. When everything in my life was "religion" this area was controlled by "god." What this is is the inner self assigning control so that you can be subjected and guided. If it gets out of hand you become a schitzo. If it stays "normal" you might be a christian. As a young child you are "guided" by your (at the time) boyhood hero. It's easy to say this is how you got your morals. Living up to something higher than you. This is why the christian looks at 3001 gods and rejects them all but one. His morality came from "god."
This is also why killings like Luara is talking about happen. It's also why the neighbor killed the abortion doctor.
This is all illusion, but a necessary illusion.
Ted, I like your thoughts.
Here's the video Downloading the Devil, about Michael Blagg. He's unusually creepy, even for a murderer.
Now I have watched the video "Downloading The Devil" and my take on this thing is that Michael Blagg's religion was a cover for sociopatic behaviour. In his world everything was about him, so he couldn't allow the wife to divorce him over pornography. It would tarnish his christian image and make him look bad to others. I'm sure he knew this marriage was over, and possibly he would stay in his church and re-marry again. His "perfect marriage" can now only be salvaged by a murder. Actually, two murders. We can never know if the daughter saw her mother being killed or heard some noise, etc., or if Blagg felt that looking at his girl for a lifetime would only cause painful memories. I'm convinced fully that Blagg killed both of them and that forensics backs it up. If I was on the jury I would have convicted this man easily. His attempted suicide was only a ploy to gain sympathy.