Yes, a Christian Shot and Killed an Atheist… but There’s More to the Story

On the night of October 18, 2004, Arthur Shelton called the cops… on himself. He had just shot and killed his atheist roommate Larry Hooper. The reason?

Shelton stated that Hooper was the devil and that he shot Hooper “hopefully enough” and “as many times as I could; I still want to keep going.” Shelton indicated he wanted to make sure that Hooper was “gone.”

Officers soon arrived on the scene and arrested Shelton, who was cooperative. Shelton told the officers several times that he did not want to talk to anyone unless that person believed in God. He further stated that he trusted the officers because he believed that the officers believed in God. Shelton also stated that he shot Hooper because Hooper was “evil” and “possibly the devil.” Shelton talked to the officers about God and being an Eagle Scout. Shelton stated that he could be trusted to tell the truth because he was an Eagle Scout.

During Shelton’s trial, it was generally agreed upon that he was mentally ill, though he wasn’t declared legally insane. He was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison, making him eligible for parole in 2030, when he will be 76 years old.

That’s the story that came to my mind when I heard about how 33-year-old Douglas Yim was found guilty of first-degree murder yesterday for killing 25-year-old Dzuy Duhn Phan after an argument over God’s existence.

Yim is a Christian. Phan was an atheist.

Yim became enraged and grabbed his gun after Phan asked Yim where God was when Yim’s father died of a stroke several years earlier.

Yim shot Phan at least six times. [Friend Paul] Park was also hit by a bullet.

Yim faces 126 years to life in prison.

Some headlines are calling this a fight over God’s existence — when this story was atop the Reddit Atheism boards yesterday, it was titled “Two Men debate existence of God. Theist murders atheist.” But that’s not really the case. There’s something far more pressing that caused the fight — in this case, Yim being reminded of his dead father in a way that triggered a violent reaction, no doubt fueled by the presence of alcohol, cocaine, and a weapon.

When Shelton killed Hooper, it wasn’t really because Hooper was an atheist. Rather, Hooper’s atheism triggered some crazy thoughts in the mind of Shelton that eventually led him to kill his roommate.

The atheists (obviously) didn’t deserve to die for their comments (or mere existence), but the Christians also didn’t kill over some mere philosophical disagreement. Don’t let the sensationalist headlines fool you. Religion played a role, sure, but it was a peripheral one.

You’re probably going to see a lot of stories in the next day or two explaining how Christianity isn’t to blame for this tragedy. Consider this one of them. But here’s something else to think about: When you read those stories, ask yourself whether the reports would be written the same way if the tables were turned and the atheist happened to kill the Christian, even if religious differences were only tangentially related to the incident.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Borax

    borax

    • Oranje

      I use it on my laundry, yes. Sometimes.

  • Paula M Smolik

    Maybe the guy on alcohol and cocaine had an excuse. But if the murdered people were some other religion instead of atheist, it would have boiled down to the same thing, people killing others over religion. I think no matter how they were provoked, religion still was in the middle of it.

    • 3lemenope

      If it was his idea to be on cocaine and alcohol, then no. He did not have an excuse.

      • Martha L

        If you define excuse as something to try to justify doing something that shouldn’t have been done (for example, someone saying they shouldn’t be held responsible for hitting a pedestrian on a sidewalk because they were texting & driving) then yes it is an excuse. It’s not a reason that makes what did happen OK or acceptable though. (Example for that, an ordinary capable adult needing help pouring a glass of milk due to a broken arm.)

        • 3lemenope

          To have, that is possess, an excuse, usually implies that the excuse is efficacious. Who walks around with broken excuses? :)

        • Craig Pierrot

          Actually, an “excuse” fits the latter definition you gave. “A reason that makes what did happen OK or acceptable.”

          An “explanation” would be the word that fits your former definition more appropriately. As in, your texting and driving wasn’t an excuse for your hitting that pedestrian in that cross-walk; it was the explanation as to how it came to pass.

          Similarly, in this context, I would define “reason” as one’s personal motivations behind a certain act, So the “reason” you were texting and driving was because you had to finish telling your friend that you were on your way to meet him or w/e.

          • Martha L

            Googling the definition of excuse (define: excuse) I get a top result of 1. attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify 2. release (someone) from a duty or requirement.release (someone) from a duty or requirement. (Although #2 doesn’t apply in this case.) That’s the same definition I was attempting to explain, but worded better.

    • Really Realist

      No, to be precise, the atheist reaped the existential fruits of his atheism. He made the shooter feel the meaningless of his mother’s death. Unprepared for the bleak realization, the shooter reacted violently.

      • Bitter Lizard

        Maybe if religious people weren’t delusional in the first place they’d be in a position to establish healthier coping mechanisms than murdering people.

        • Really Realist

          Like suicide?

          • Bitter Lizard

            The fact that the only option you can come up with other than killing someone is suicide says everything we need to know about you.

            • Really Realist

              Ok, fine. Let me put on my thinkin’ cap.

              Proposition: The Universe is meaningless, and our existence pointless.

              Solution: Suicide. Delude yourself with religion. Delude yourself with Saganism. Take lots of drugs. Ignore the pointlessness of existence. Make up meaningless reasons that it isn’t pointless. Get cancer. Punk out, and kill yourself.

              • Bitter Lizard

                It’s not a surprise that you would find life meaningless without an imaginary friend to validate you, seeing as you clearly have no redeeming qualities that could possibly justify your continued existence in reality. At least you’ve basically admitted the basis for your irrational beliefs for all to see.

                • Really Realist

                  Show me the scientific proof that life has a point.

                  Methinks you really haven’t analyzed the implications of your atheistic philosophy.

                • Bitter Lizard

                  Humans have the ability to make their own purpose in life. Whatever the hell you are, maybe not so much.

                • Really Realist

                  So basically your philosophy is a retarded version of Invictus.

                • Craig Pierrot

                  Maybe HE hasn’t, but some of us have, and, frankly, your religion demeans humanity in every fucking way.

                  The atoms in your body (and the atoms in our planet) came from the explosion of stars more than 5 billion years ago, which then collected together under gravitational forces, and formed our Solar System. Soon after, on Earth, certain cyclic, natural, chemical reactions began to run and over hundreds of millions of years acquired phenomenal amounts of complexity and became what we now know today as “cyanobacteria.” These bacteria kept on going for another billion or so years, until Earth’s mostly Nitrogen-CO2 atmosphere was converted into a mostly Nitrogen-Oxygen atmosphere. From there, unicellular life took off, eventually forming into multicellular organisms, later eventually moving onto land. Fast forward a few hundred million years, and we have a species of apes actually gaining the capacity for intelligence, reason, planning, language, and thought far and above the mere emotions of our mammalian ancestors and the fear, adrenaline, and “gut feelings” of our reptilian ancestors. We are the incredible end result of BILLIONS of years of irreplaceable, unrepeatable, unreproducible chemical reactions and later biological interactions and THAT makes each and every life special, unique, and more valuable than anything else in the known Universe. To extinguish a man is truly a tragic waste of life, resources, and time, but not only that, it’s the forcible end of a several billion year-long legacy.

                  We are star-children. We are a way for the Universe to know itself. We are the result of a billions of years-long chemical process that is unique and unreproducible. THAT is what makes each and every human life valuable and if you kill a even a single human being, you end that human’s billions of years-long story by violence and force.

                  However, in a stunning example of how religion tends to reverse *everything*, your religion utterly *cheapens* us. According to Christianity, we are merely the creations and playthings of some higher “power.” We weren’t the end result of a unique and incredibly long and painful process of abiogenesis and evolution by natural selection; instead, we are merely the result of some higher authority playing with clay in his back yard one day, making figurines of himself, when one day he just decided to “breath life into them” and those golems became us. NOT special, NOT unique, NOT valuable, and absolutely replaceable IN EVERY WAY. Human (and animal) life has no value; only the fallacious concept of a (human) “soul” has any value. After all, if this “authority” just felt like killing off everything he had “created,” he could do just that and just re-create/make up some more people! Ta-DAAAAA!

                  Methinks you really haven’t analyzed the implications of your Christian philosophy.

                  And to answer your question, science is a process of discovery; a method for finding out what is real in reality; a method for discovering the truth about the Universe around us by weeding out what cannot and could not be true. The process of science represents the methodology by which humanity as a whole could possibly “know” anything (to the extent that we could possibly “know” anything). As such, there is no “proof” that life has a point, and frankly, your question of “What point is there to life” is malformed anyway. It would be like asking WHY the Universe came to be instead of HOW the Universe came to be. It’s just begging the question. (Which you are probably doing intentionally.)

                  However, what science HAS shown so far is a failure to find any evidence that there is a “point” to life other than what we make of it ourselves. In other words, if you need some “higher authority” to tell you what to do, why you are living your life, and/or for what purpose you are alive, you will find none such answers in reality. For THAT, you have to turn to a combination of fantasy and philosophy, a.k.a. religion. Those of us who ARE intelligent enough to see thru religion, realize that fantasy is of no use to us in a discussion about reality, and neither need nor want any “higher authority” to tell us for what reason(s) and cause(s) we should live and devote our lives, OTOH, turn mostly to philosophy based on reason and logic and *grounded in reality* for these answers. Those who aren’t, don’t and do, OTOH, invented and continue to perpetuate religion.

                  If you’re having trouble trying to imagine what these reasons could possibly be, just do a role-playing exercise. (For you,) pretend that your god does not exist. There…that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now list all the reasons why you wish to continue living and all the reasons why you don’t want to kill yourself. (For example, do you have a wife that you care about? How about children? If you have neither of these things, do you ever want either of these things? Would you want to make a positive difference in the world? Maybe help to invent the next great technological innovation that takes Humanity further than ever previously thought possible? Maybe try to help prevent bad things from happening? What is your personal “mission” in life that you want to see completed before you die?) Presto! You have just found your point to your life. Easy, wasn’t it?

                • Tyler Hopkins

                  I think “ignore the pointlessness of existence” is a perfectly good way to deal with the pointlessness of existence.

                  The compulsion to ascribe a reason for everything is one that seems to me to share a lot of brainspace with religious thought.

                • UWIR

                  Are you not aware that existentialism was founded by Soren Kierkegaard, who was a Christian? Whether God exists or not is irrelevant to whether life has meaning. If a person cannot find meaning in a godless world, there’s no reason to think they can find meaning in Christian belief, and if a person can find meaning in honoring God by living a good life, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to find meaning in living a good life simply to live a good life, regardless of whether God exists. Finding meaning is a completely subjective experience; it does not arise from empirical matters such as whether or not God exists.

              • phantomreader42

                So, the only meaning you can find in your worthless, empty life is to lie about atheists and babble moronic nonsense on the Internet. What a useless piece of stinking shit you are!

                YOU are the one with the burning desire to kill yourself, so why don’t you quit whining that other people should kill themselves and go do your own damn dirty work? Oh, yeah, because you’re too much of a cowardly lying asshat.

              • Tainda

                You are a very, very sad person.

                You honestly think that WE think life is meaningless and our existence pointless? You have to have a god to make your life meaningful? Very, very sad. I feel for you, I really do. I hope you’re seeking professional help.

                My family makes my life meaningful. My friends make my life meaningful. The fact that I’m alive and can experience this existence for a short period of time is meaningful. I love every single day I have on this earth.

    • Craig Pierrot

      Actually, No, he did NOT have any excuse, even WITH the drugs. Frankly, I’m ADD and have
      to take stimulants in order to focus (I used to take dextroamphetamine
      15mg 4x/day, now I take methamphetamine 10mg 3x/day), and mixing them
      with alcohol NEVER made me wanna murder people. And honestly, I know people who have blown coke while drinking/drunk, and it didn’t turn THEM into murders, either.

      So…yeah. Can’t blame it on the coke and/or alcohol. :~p

      • Nancy Shrew

        Methamphetamine? Are you sure? Did you mean “methylphenidate”?

  • Borax

    How about this; cocaine, guns and alcohol never have a good outcome.

    • Moocow

      Huh? People mix booze guns and coke all the time with no problems. Noob.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        How about; mixing cocaine, guns, and alcohol is incredibly stupid and can never have a good outcome- it can only be neutral or very, very bad.

        Which is pretty much what Borax said.

        • 3lemenope

          I dunno. Fun is a respectable enough end-in-itself, and I kinda imagine it would be rather a lot of fun, else why would people do it?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            The cocaine and alcohol parts I can see. Why the gun, though? That’s the part that doesn’t make any sense. It wouldn’t make anything more fun.

            • 3lemenope

              Have you ever shot a gun? It’s fun, whatever else it may be. I’d recommend (just as I’d recommend pretty much anything else) everyone try it at least once under controlled conditions, just to know what the fuss is about.

              Some folks legitimately find firing a gun not fun at all, but they tend to be the exception.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Oh yeah, it is fun. A friend took me to a range once to shoot his pistol. I didn’t try anything bigger, but it was a lot of fun. However, I wouldn’t have any fun at all around mind-altering substances knowing people were armed.

                • 3lemenope

                  No Hunter S. Thompson BBQs for you!

                  Yeah, the alcohol would give me a bit of pause.

                • Spuddie

                  Was anyone ever crazy enough to go hunting with Hunter S. Thompson? I would have thought such a thing would have all but guaranteed accidental drunken homicide.

                • 3lemenope

                  Hunting? Probably not. But he did throw drug fueled skeet-shooting afternoon soirees.

                • Spuddie

                  Making Thompson probably the least trustworthy author with a firearm since William S. Burroughs.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Bad, bad jokes about Dick Cheney come to mind … though I doubt he was drunk.

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                Even if someone truly hates guns, it’s a useful exercise. More knowledge equals less fear.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        I can’t believe this is getting downvoted so much. Sarcasm, people!

    • Without Malice

      Especially when you add a little religious certainty to the mix.

      • Really Realist

        Because no arguments have resulted in murder except over religion ever.

        • Bitter Lizard

          Ah, the “religion isn’t responsible for all the bad things in the world, so religion isn’t responsible for anything” argument, the calling card of a worthless human being.

          • Really Realist

            So you prefer the “religion is responsible for a few bad things so religion should be eradicated” argument, the calling card of a pimple-faced teenager.

            • Bitter Lizard

              Your deranged idea of what constitutes just a “few bad things” reveals more than anyone could ever care to know about you.

  • Tainda

    If it were reversed, the atheists would be drawn and quartered.

    • Really Realist

      Yeah, especially in San Francisco, that bastion of fundamentalist Christianity.

      It must be fun to have a persecution complex.

      • Intelligent Donkey

        All part and parcel of being a good Christian. It’s in the bible, you know. If you’re a Christian, then you’re persecuted. Christians just love to be persecuted, because that tells them that they’re doing it right.

        Must be difficult when Christians are the majority.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Yim is a Christian.

    Could I ask where you got this information? It doesn’t appear in either of the articles I read.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      No mention of Christianity in the Mercury News article or the CBS article. The only thing in any of your links is from JT’s article, which is not original reporting, and links the same CBS article you did.

      • http://www.undercoverfiles.com/ ModerndDayPhilosopher

        Are you arguing semantics? Or trying to disassociate this man from Christianity? He believed in God, who has the time to be sorting out believers in God? There’s like 500 hundred different groups and guess what they all believe pretty much the same thing…

        • GubbaBumpkin

          Or trying to disassociate this man from Christianity?

          I am pointing out that Yim is not associated with Christianity in any reliable source cited in the post. So the association with Christianity is apparently in Hemant’s own mind. No “disassociation” should be necessary, since the association is unwarranted. If you think this is a fine point of semantics, you can go fuck yourself.

          • http://www.undercoverfiles.com/ ModerndDayPhilosopher

            Whatever makes you feel better…

        • Bitter Lizard

          It isn’t merely semantic to point out that the articles didn’t specify which brand of theism the guy subscribed to. Maybe it wasn’t Christianity. A number of the people cheering the atheist’s death are certainly Christians, though.

    • Sven2547

      Valid point. It’s an easy conclusion to jump to, but it may not be justified. I too would like to see a source behind this.

  • Bitter Lizard

    If the theists didn’t believe in God, would the atheists still be alive? In both cases, the answer seems to be “most likely yes”. Of course every single religious person writing about the story would blame atheism if the tables were reversed. And one other thought: isn’t it a little fucked up that we’re considered bigots for calling religious beliefs crazy, but as soon as these beliefs lead theists to kill, they immediately go to the insanity defense? Yep, theists aren’t crazy…unless it helps them get away with murder.

    You’re way too friendly, Hemant.

    • Bitter Lizard

      I just clipped some of the theist reactions to the story. Remember: theists are good people and not at all our enemies.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Methinks you forgot to share those clips.

        • Bitter Lizard

          I’ve reloaded the page and I’m still seeing them…in any case, it’s more or less what you’d expect.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Weird, I had to reload it a couple of times. Thanks!

            …why are there so many sick, foul people? Jesus wept.

      • Tainda

        Wow

      • Without Malice

        As if we needed further proof that the religious are a mad a malicious bunch whose zealotry robs them of all human compassion.

        • Bitter Lizard

          There were a number of atheists on the thread, too, and they mostly seemed to be the ones arguing with these guys. Apparently that’s the only reason that a flat-out death threat got two more downvotes than upvotes–if it was only Christians on the thread, you can be sure it would be lopsided in the other direction.

      • SeekerLancer

        That’s just grade-A stomach turning disgusting.

        If Jesus did exist he’d give them each one hell of a dopeslap.

      • baal

        Ok, those comments on FB are downright scary.

      • Mark W.

        ‘christ4lif’ and especially ‘EternalWhiteness’…those names alone should tell you all you need to know about the people defending the murderers.

      • mavp

        “Remember: theists are good people and not at all our enemies.”

        Speak for yourself.

      • corhen

        for me, this is the story here. Not that someone hopped up on drugs shot someone. the reaction.

    • Guest

      ‘every single religious person’?
      You could paint a whole barn in one stroke with a brush as broad as that.
      There’s plenty of religious writers who are responsible and thoughtful enough not to automatically blame a whole group for the actions of one guy. If an atheist killed a theist, you’d get a whole mixture of different reactions from different writers, some wanting atheist blood, some calling for calm. Religious people don’t all act exactly the same way. If they did, there wouldn’t be so many different religions and denominations.

      • Bitter Lizard

        Okay, “the overwhelming majority of religious people”. “Responsible, thoughtful” religious writers are few and far between, at least when writing on subjects pertaining to religion and atheism. If you named any religious writer who’s written extensively on atheism, 99% of the time I’d be able to find something stupid, dishonest or vile they’ve written on the subject. The clips from commenters I posted above were just from browsing for a few minutes–I have no idea how close I even got to the bottom of the comments on just that one article. No, not all religious people are bad. But they are overwhelmingly bad as a group, and the “good ones” do very little to try and remedy that.

  • b33bl3br0x

    Nevermind. I missed a step.

    • Bitter Lizard

      I think you’re getting the two cases mixed up a little. Hemant doubles back on the first case after describing the second one, so it’s easy to see how this happened (I almost made the same mistake).

      • b33bl3br0x

        Yep you are indeed correct. I did make that mistake.

  • Helz

    Thank you! Rationality for the win.

  • James Lindsay

    A welcome voice of sanity here, Hemant. Thanks!

  • closetatheist

    cocaine is a hell of a drug.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Why don’t you write a song about it?

      • revyloution

        I was in a band with a Christian keyboard player. When he sang that song, he changed the words to croquet.

        When you want to get down,
        Down on the lawn,
        Croquet

        • closetatheist

          the first few times I heard the song I honestly thought he was saying “cookie” or “cookies”. It took a long time for someone to correct me too.

  • R Bonwell parker

    Okay, so I’ll posit that yes, it would have still happened if Yim (and his father) were atheists, Pham was a Christian, and everything else was the same. Just change the original statement to the following:

    “Your father shouldn’t have refused Jesus. God saves the ones he loves and smites those who deny him.”

    The more important issue, I think, is this: your “freedom of speech” does not mean it isn’t fatally stupid to insult an angry, armed man’s dead father. Pham’s statement was horrible and completely out of line; being an atheist does not entitle one to be an asshole.

    • Anat

      And someone being an asshole by insulting you isn’t a reason to kill them.

      • R Bonwell parker

        It was reason enough for Yim, and saying otherwise doesn’t make Pham alive.

        This is a big problem in the U.S. in particular, because so many Americans seem to worship our Constitution as much as Christians worship their Bible… we seem to think that just having the freedom to do something means we’re immune to damage as a result. It’s analogous to people getting killed by stepping in front of traffic because they technically have the right of way – all the laws and morals in the world will not protect you from the physics of a moving vehicle.

        Same case here. We can feel as righteous as we want to about how what Pham said is more “justified” than Yim’s response, but that doesn’t change the response. People need to be smarter than that. Atheists don’t need martyrs.

        • AxeGrrl

          And someone being an asshole by insulting you isn’t a reason to kill them.

          It was reason enough for Yim

          I think, perhaps, that Anat meant it isn’t a justifiable reason to kill him. Given your response, Hitler “had a reason” too……

          every homicidal nut ‘has a reason’, that doesn’t mean it’s moral or justifiable or acceptable.

  • JT Rager

    “Probably the toughest time in anyone’s life is when you have to murder a loved one because they’re the devil” – Emo Phillips

    Jeez, I thought this was a joke or something

    • Oranje

      Other than that, though, it’s been a good day.

  • Moocow

    The writer of this article presents no material whatsoever to support his feeling-based opinion about the situation. Feels to me like nothing more than a misty apology.

  • Guest

    More reasons for stricter gun controls, surely? I can’t imagine living in a place where any heated arguement could get you shot.

    I guess screening potential gun owners for mental illness or a history of violence would be discrimanatory, but it seems like it would prevent a few tragedies.

    • Bdole

      Re: screening for mental illness
      Seems like it would also be ineffective. How many people don’t have a history of mental illness when they *snap*?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      The U.S. is rather screwed on gun control. We have almost as many firearms in this country as we do people, and a majority are unregistered. We make the civilian populations of Middle Eastern countries look unarmed by comparison (the fact they technically have more assault rifles doesn’t matter much; it’s very easy to convert a weapon to fully automatic here, with no one the wiser. I’ve seen people do it with kits they order.) I have a goddamn box of LEFTOVER guns in storage, and I found that after getting rid of the OTHER box.

      Stricter control simply won’t do enough, although it will help a little. People need to stop thinking that guns are cool and make them tough. They need to stop going along with a gun lobby that gives mentally ill people open access to guns in order to ensure that everyone else can get them.

      • Bitter Lizard

        I wonder how many of those Christians who celebrated the murder of the atheist have guns. I’m thinking probably most of them.

        • mindlessgeek

          Who celebrated the murder of the atheist?

          • Bitter Lizard

            See my screenshots of theist reactions elsewhere on this page.

            • Really Realist

              “Celebrate” isn’t exactly correct.

              Many seemed to make fun of the deceased atheist, which isn’t very nice, but isn’t exactly a celebration.

              • phantomreader42

                The VERY FIRST COMMENT in the screenshot was claiming the murderer did the right thing, and the victim deserved it for not worshiping the right invisible sky tyrant. Of course, I’m not surprised that you’d lie about it, since you admitted above that you have no intention of being honest.

                • Really Realist

                  You don’t know the difference between “one” and “many.”

              • Bitter Lizard

                Bullshit, but you’re evidently one of them, so nobody expects any sort of honesty or even basic humanity to come from you.

    • Really Realist

      Yeah, because enraged dude never would of thought of grabbing a kitchen knife.

      You can’t legislate against crimes of passion.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Yeah, because the fatality rate of knifings is exactly equal to that of shootings.

        • Really Realist

          You’re really a very silly person.

        • Bitter Lizard

          Got to admit this is a new argument from a theist: “guns don’t kill people, we kill people”.

      • Guest

        Actually you can. Crimes of passion are spur of the moment, so they’re more likely to be carried out when there is a weapon easily to hand. If you have to go and fetch a weapon from somewhere else, that gives you valuable thinking time to reflect on the consquences of your actions, and gives a chance for the passion to cool down. It’s true that kitchen knives can kill as easily as a gun, but people don’t tend to carry them around in holsters. Knives have a shorter range as well and they’re not quite as quick to murder with, unless you hit an artery. People also don’t go to knifing ranges to practice knifing people, and so they’re likely to be less practiced at it, which is important if they’re acting automatically while in a rage. There’s a reason the US murder rate is higher than so many other rich countries. The suicide rate is affected too…it’s easier to kill yourself with a gun than nearly anything else. If you want to prevent suicides, try more gun legislation.

        • Mario Strada

          I am afraid that reasonable arguments are lost on this guy. It’d be best to leave him alone typing in his mother’s basement.

          • Really Realist

            Brave *and* original!

        • Really Realist

          You write as someone obviously unaware of anything about weapons.

          Look up krav maga knife fighting. There is nothing quicker than a knife if you want to kill someone.

          As for the “It’s true that kitchen knives can kill as easily as a gun, but people don’t tend to carry them around in holsters,” I’m actually speechless. Of course they do. What elitist enclave do you live in?

  • Jason Upchurch

    Thanks for fighting the good fight and keeping decency alive :)

  • Sven2547

    When I first saw the news article last night, and read about the cocaine and alcohol, I essentially stopped reading. Throw those in the mix, and all bets are off.

  • Jonathan

    The shooting involving Yim and Phan happened a mile from my house. It’s Oakland,.people shoot each other here all the time. Still, stupid crazy story but it’s not exactly surprising someone gets shot in Oaktown

  • Jonathan

    Lookup “Oikos university” Another crazy christian killed 6 people there, also in oakland. Deemed, Insane”. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Christian or crazy?

  • Zach Robarge

    ‘Religion only played a ‘peripheral’ role’? Seriously? Seriously?

    Shelton also stated that he shot Hooper because Hooper was “evil” and “possibly the devil.

    How the fuck is that peripheral?

    • Really Realist

      Because this was obviously a schizoid state brought on by the cocaine. If they hadn’t argued over religion, it might have been football and aliens, or politics and illegal aliens.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        You’re mixing up the two stories. In one, Shelton shot Hooper for no reason other than that he thought Hooper was the devil.

        In the other, Yim shot Pham after a heated argument about God, during a party at which both alcohol and cocaine were present.

        The alcohol and cocaine had nothing to do with the first case. That’s all Christian beliefs and how they play out in people’s heads who are, or become, mentally unstable.

        • Really Realist

          You left out the part about Shelton being mentally unstable.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            I did not, though you may have read it before the edit where I added the third paragraph. The third paragraph reads, in full,

            “The alcohol and cocaine had nothing to do with the first case. That’s all Christian beliefs and how they play out in people’s heads who are, or become, mentally unstable.”

            • Really Realist

              Doesn’t help.

              Unless you also support eradicating “The Catcher in the Rye” from literature as well.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Non-sequitur much?

                • Really Realist

                  She obviously doesn’t know the weird history of assassinations and “The Catcher in the Rye…”

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Um, no, no I don’t. Why don’t you find some good statistical analysis then and show me that reading a commonly-assigned book is at all correlated with suicide after taking into account other relevant variables such as depression, age, gender, socio-economic status, familial pressures, and more.

                • Really Realist

                  I see you’re reached the end of your wits and resorted to your BA in Feminist Jargon. Amusing.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Social Science jargon, thank you. I’ve degrees in political science, and anyone with even the slightest understanding of statistics and sociology would know what I was talking about. Clearly, you are an uneducated buffoon.

                • phantomreader42

                  Feminerd, don’t you know all science is a vast Satanic conspiracy to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids? :P

                  Seeking knowledge IS the Original Sin, after all, so it’s no surprise today’s troll-for-jeebus avoids all knowledge like the plague.

                • Craig Pierrot

                  Actually, Really Realist was referring to the murder of John Lennon. His murderer willfully and peacefully surrendered at the scene, just lying down on the sidewalk and reading a copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” until the police arrived to arrest him. “[He] repeatedly said that the novel was his statement.” (Source: Wikipedia)

                  Apparently, in the novel, (I’ve never read it) the protagonist “shares a fantasy he has been thinking about (based on a mishearing of Robert Burns’ ”Comin’ Through the Rye”): he pictures himself as the sole guardian of a group of children running and playing in a huge rye field on the edge of a cliff. His job is to catch the children if, in their abandon, they come close to falling off the brink, to be a ‘catcher in the rye.’ Because of this misinterpretation, Holden believes that to be a ‘catcher in the rye’ means to save children from losing their innocence.” (Source: Wikipedia)

                  Basically, what he’s trying to imply is that the book “The Cather in the Rye” somehow convinced this guy to murder John Lennon in order to “‘protect’ children from his music and ideas,” but that’s actually not true. He was, in fact, an extremist born-again Christian and was so LONG before he even ever heard about of “The Catcher in the Rye.” In fact, I’d call him outright just a straight-up clinically insane religious fanatic, but it’s extremely unclear and probably debatable whether his religious beliefs A.) caused his initial push down the road to insanity, B.) merely acted as the catalyst for his naturally caused downward spiral into insanity, C.) merely acted as the outlet for his naturally caused insanity, or D.) weather he was sane the entire time and his extreme religious beliefs just dragged him into seemingly-insane behavior after one bad turn in his life after another, started by guilt caused by his religious beliefs.

                • Craig Pierrot

                  (It’s a tradition that Lennon’s murderer’s name not be spoken or even remembered because some thought that he was just looking for fame, so I’m replacing all instances of the shooter’s name below with the all uppercase “HE,” “HIM,” or “HIS” for clarity.)

                  Again, from Wikipedia:
                  —————————-

                  HE was born in Fort Worth, Texas. His father was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and his mother was a nurse. His younger sister was born seven years later. HE stated that as a boy, he lived in fear of his father, who he said was physically abusive towards his mother and unloving towards him. HE began to fantasize about having king-like power over a group of imaginary “little people” who lived in the walls of his bedroom. HE attended Columbia High School in Decatur, Georgia. By the time he was fourteen, HE was using drugs, skipping classes, and he once ran away from home to live on the streets for two weeks. He said that he was bullied at school because he was not a good athlete.

                  In 1971, HE became a born again Christian, and distributed Biblical tracts. He’d grown up idolizing Lennon, but turned on him after becoming born-again; like many born-again Christians, he was angered at Lennon’s comment that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” He met his first girlfriend, another Christian named Jessica Blankenship. He began work as a YMCA summer camp counselor; he was very popular with the children, who nicknamed him “Nemo”. He won an award for Outstanding Counselor and was made assistant director. Those who knew him in the caretaking professions unanimously called him an outstanding worker. A friend recommended The Catcher in the Rye to HIM, and the story eventually took on great personal
                  significance for him, to the extent that he reportedly wished to model his life after its protagonist, Holden Caulfield.

                  After graduating from Columbia High School, HE moved for a time to Chicago and played guitar in churches and Christian nightspots while his friend did impersonations. He worked successfully for World Vision with Vietnamese refugees at a resettlement camp at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas, after a brief visit to Lebanon for the same work. He was named an area coordinator and a key aide to the program director, David Moore, who later said that HE cared deeply for the children and worked hard. HE accompanied Moore to meetings with government officials, and President Gerald Ford shook his hand.

                  HE joined his girlfriend, Jessica Blankenship, as a student at Covenant College, an evangelical Presbyterian liberal arts college in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. However, HE fell behind in his studies and became obsessed with guilt over having an affair. He started having suicidal
                  thoughts and began to feel like a failure. He dropped out of Covenant College, and his girlfriend broke off their relationship soon after. He returned to work at the resettlement camp, but left after an argument. HE worked as a security guard, eventually taking a week-long course to qualify as an armed guard. He again attempted college but dropped out. He went to Hawaii and then began contemplating suicide. In 1977, HE attempted suicide by carbon monoxide asphyxiation. He connected a hose to his car’s exhaust pipe, but the hose melted and the attempt failed. A psychiatrist admitted him to Castle Memorial Hospital for clinical depression. Upon his release, he began working at the hospital. His parents began divorce proceedings, and his mother joined HIM in Hawaii.

                  In 1978, HE went on a six-week trip around the world, inspired partly by the film Around the World in Eighty Days, visiting Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi, Beirut, Geneva, London, Paris and Dublin. He began a relationship with his travel agent, a Japanese-American woman. They married on June 2, 1979. HE went to work at Castle Memorial Hospital as a printer, working alone rather than with staff and patients. He was fired by the Castle Memorial Hospital, rehired, then got into a shouting match with a nurse and quit. He took a job as a night security guard and began drinking heavily. HE developed a series of obsessions, including artwork, The Catcher in the Rye, music, and John Lennon. He also started talking with the imaginary ‘little people’ again. In September 1980, he wrote a letter to a friend, Lynda Irish, in which he stated, “I’m going nuts.” He signed the letter, “The Catcher in the Rye”.

                  Three months prior to the murder, HE allegedly started planning to kill Lennon while in Hawaii. He said that he chose Lennon after seeing him on the cover of The Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

                  [...]

                  After being inspired by the film Ordinary People, HE returned to Hawaii, telling his wife he had been obsessed with killing Lennon. He showed her the gun and bullets, but she did not inform the police or mental health services. He made an appointment to see a clinical psychologist, but instead flew back to New York on December 6, 1980. He reports having re-enacted scenes from “The Catcher in the Rye.”

                  [...]

                  On December 8, 1980, HE bought a copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” from a New York book store, in which he wrote “This is my statement” and signed it “Holden Caulfield”.

                  [...]

                  [After the shooting,] HE remained at the scene, reading The Catcher in the Rye until the police arrived. HE was arrested without incident. In his statement to police three
                  hours later, HE stated, “I’m sure the big part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil.”

                  [...]

                  HE was charged with second degree murder. He was examined at Bellevue Hospital. Doctors concluded that, while delusional, he was competent to stand trial.

                  [...]

                  In January 1981, at the initial hearing, HIS new lawyer Jonathan Marks, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. In February, Chapman sent a handwritten statement to The New York Times urging everyone to read The Catcher in the Rye, calling it an “extraordinary book that holds many answers.” [...] It was reported that his defense team was confident he would be found not guilty by reason of insanity, in which case he would have been committed to a state mental hospital
                  and received treatment. However, in June, Chapman told Marks he wanted
                  to drop the insanity defense and plead guilty. Marks objected with
                  “serious questions” over Chapman’s sanity, and legally challenged his
                  competence to make this decision. In the pursuant hearing on June 22,
                  Chapman said that God had told him to plead guilty and that he would not
                  change his plea or ever appeal, regardless of his sentence. Marks told
                  the court that he opposed Chapman’s change of plea, but that Chapman
                  would not listen to him. Judge Dennis Edwards refused a further
                  assessment, said that Chapman had made the decision of his own free will, and declared him competent to plead guilty.

                  [At his sentencing hearing...] When Chapman was asked if he had anything to say, he rose and read the passage from The Catcher in the Rye, when Holden tells his little sister, Phoebe, what he wants to do with his life:

                  “Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.”

                  [...]

                  In his parole board hearing in 2004 he described his plans; “I would immediately try to find a job, and I really want to go from place to place, at least in the state, church to church, and tell people what happened to me and point them the way to Christ.” He also said that he thought that there was a possibility he could find work as a farmhand or return to his previous trade as a printer. The Daily Mirror reported he wanted to set up a church with his wife.

                • Craig Pierrot

                  Again, you probably just used the. WORST. possible example for your case. ;~p

      • Craig Pierrot

        ^politics or unauthorized immigrants.

        Corrected.

  • Gloria16

    If the situation were reversed we’d hear from christians how they are always persecuted. Amazing how powerful the “persecuted” are in the most powerful nation in the world.

  • Matt Dillahunty

    I agree (pretty much) and had (pretty much) the same reaction. He didn’t MERELY kill the atheist because they disagreed about the existence of god(s)…he killed him because the atheist asked a difficult question that triggered an emotional response that he wasn’t equipped to deal with.

    There’s nothing about the tenets of Christianity that necessarily lead to this murder.

    However…

    “You’re probably going to see a lot of stories in the next day or two explaining how Christianity isn’t to blame for this tragedy.”

    Remove Christianity from the situation…and you remove the underlying beliefs that were responsibility for this individual’s inability to process this situation. The ideas that caused this man’s pain were the direct result of the central ideas of Christianity coming into conflict with reality.

    I absolutely agree that we should be among the first to say “This particular story is extraordinary – and it wasn’t merely about two people disagreeing about the existence of god. It’s inaccurate to make claims that imply that Christianity necessarily leads to this sort of action or that it’s even likely…but it’s fair to note that Christianity clearly doesn’t prevent this and can, for some individuals, actually contribute to actions like this.”

    Christianity isn’t solely to blame – but causally speaking it was necessary, but not sufficient.

    • Really Realist

      “The ideas that caused this man’s pain were the direct result of the
      central ideas of Christianity coming into conflict with reality.”

      And those same “ideas” result in countless suicides every year. Your point is stupid. Atheism doesn’t make existential angst any better. It just shouts out “there is no point” and tries to sugarcoat the pointlessness with syrupy Saganisms.

      • Matt Dillahunty

        So, when you say “those same “ideas””, you grammatically appear to be referencing Christian ideas and claiming they result in countless suicides though I suspect, from the remainder of your response that you may have meant to imply that atheism results in suicides. That may or may not be the case (for either), but I don’t see how it’s relevant to my point.

        My point is, according to you, stupid. Why? Why is it stupid to point out that this isn’t an expected result of Christianity but it’s obviously correct that this person reacted this way because they hold particular views spawned by Christianity? It’s simply true.

        And, I’m sorry to inform you (that’s a lie, I’m actually taking pleasure at exposing the errors of someone who smugly calls my point stupid while offering no accurate or valid substance and demonstrating quite a bit of confusion), but the rest of your comment seems similarly wrong. Atheism isn’t an ideology and doesn’t have anything to say about existential angst or anything other than the existence of gods. I think, perhaps, you’re talking about nihilism…and it seems you’ve bought into a load of garbage conflating the two.

        • Really Realist

          1. If atheism causes existential angst, then atheism is responsible for a vast number of suicides.

          2. Shooting atheists isn’t a tenet of Christianity.

          3. You can do all the tap dancing you want, but because theism exists, and because atheism posits itself in opposition to theism, then atheism has an at least *negative* ideology. Contemporary atheism *only* exists in relation to theism, and theism posits certain ideas – individual worth, eternal life, etc. Atheism must contrive other structures to either a) ape or b) supplant theism’s obviously well-designed ability to keep a good number of people from jumping off of bridges, and raping, looting, and pillaging. The atheist must then contrive wholly original systems, or latch onto pre-existing ones (like the lovable folly that is Atheism+.)

          • phantomreader42

            Murdering anyone who doesn’t worship the right imaginary friend by throwing rocks at them until they die IS a tenet of christianity. Deuteronomy chapter 13. Shooting just uses fewer projectiles moving faster.

            And if you throw out the OT to avoid that, there go your precious commandments and anti-gay clobber verses, and that stupid creation myth with the magic fruit and the talking snake…

            • Really Realist

              Oh my goodness! An actual “I know more about Christianity than the Pope” atheist!

              How precious.

              • Guest
              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Well, duh! We’ve studied it from the outside. The Pope clearly thinks a snake talked to a woman and convinced her to eat a magical apple, which cursed humanity for ever and ever until an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity fucked a virgin to impregnate her with himself in order to sacrifice himself in order to force himself (even though he’s all powerful!) to forgive humanity for the woman eating the magical apple. Also, if you don’t believe this, this deity will condemn you to eternal torture but won’t give you the information necessary to prove it happened. But he loves you!

                And the Pope actually think this is all true and really happened, instead of seeing it for the jumble of tales, myths, and wishful thinking that it really is. So yeah, it’s not terribly hard for an atheist to know more about Christianity than the Pope does.

                • Really Realist

                  “Well, duh! We’ve studied it from the outside. The Pope clearly thinks a
                  snake talked to a woman and convinced her to eat a magical apple, which
                  cursed humanity for ever and ever until an omniscient, omnipotent,
                  omnibenevolent deity fucked a virgin to impregnate her with himself in
                  order to sacrifice himself in order to force himself (even though he’s
                  all powerful!) to forgive humanity for the woman eating the magical
                  apple. Also, if you don’t believe this, this deity will condemn you to
                  eternal torture but won’t give you the information necessary to prove it
                  happened. But he loves you!”

                  Thank you for proving my point via your tacky, childish, and completely ignorant understanding of Catholicism.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Tell me how I got it wrong, then.

                • Really Realist

                  Basically, if you started with the Wikipedia article on Catholicism you’d be able to correct your mistakes in about 20 minutes. But that would require you to move outside of your smug comfort zone.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I’ve actually read that, you know. And it uses fancy words like substitutionary atonement and original sin and Fall of Man. But what it comes down to is Eve ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge because a talking snake, later interpreted to mean Satan by Christians, told her to. This caused sin to enter the world and thus all humanity was cursed, and God couldn’t forgive that without sending himself to earth by, well, fucking a virgin and fathering himself, creating Jesus. Jesus took all sin upon himself and thus God was able to forgive all of humanity, even though being all-powerful that really shouldn’t have been necessary and Jesus was really God anyways.

                  If you don’t worship Jesus (nee God), you will burn in Hell for eternity. The God that sends you there knows everything, is all-powerful, and is all-good, but refuses to provide any actual evidence of hir existence.

                  Exact same story, slightly different phrasing. Still think I don’t understand Christianity?

                • Really Realist

                  “If you don’t worship Jesus (nee God), you will burn in Hell for
                  eternity. The God that sends you there knows everything, is
                  all-powerful, and is all-good, but refuses to provide any actual
                  evidence of hir existence.”

                  Show me where it says this in the Wikipedia article.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  In so many words? It doesn’t. I paraphrase a lot, in case you didn’t notice. Do you mean to say that Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, do not make those claims?

                  I read a thing about how Catholics consider Jesus to be Divine. Your colleague claims Catholicism is definitely positively not polytheistic, and many others have done the same, so Jesus is definitely (nee God). The doctrine of Hell is also well-established, if one just clicks the bitty link that takes you to the “Christianity in general” wikipedia article, as is the notion of the triple-omni deity.

                • 3lemenope

                  My test for these purposes is the LOLCat Bible. If a believer has a problem with the LOLCat Bible, then it is not the message they care about, but the form.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Oooh, good point. I completely forgot about the LOLCat Bible! I can’t believe I did that!

                • diogeneslamp0

                  Really Realist, Feminerd’s description of Christianity was 100% accurate, and you did not prove she got even one thing wrong. Plus, you Christians never valued human life– the only sacred thing in Xianity is propagating and protecting the faith, and that always required killing.

                • Tom

                  So you’re saying none of that happened, then?

              • phantomreader42

                The pope is the head of the world’s largest organization for the protection and enrichment of child rapists, and he sits on a golden throne claiming to be the infallible representative of the creator of the whole fucking universe and calls ATHEISTS arrogant. Why the fuck should anyone with a brain care about the shit that comes out of his mouth, or any of his cult members?

                Fuck the motherfucking pope!

          • Matt Dillahunty

            “If atheism causes existential angst, then atheism is responsible for a vast number of suicides.”

            Atheism has no dogma, tenets or positions on anything – it’s merely a rejection of the claim “some god exists”. I don’t experience existential angst and, if some atheists do, it’s not because of atheism (which isn’t an ism) but because of some actual position that they’ve accepted (like nihilism).

            “Shooting atheists isn’t a tenet of Christianity.”

            I never said it was, and it’s becoming rapidly clear that you’re incapable of responding to what I’ve actually said and are bent on building straw men based on your on biases.

            “supplant theism’s obviously well-designed ability to keep a good number of people from jumping off of bridges, and raping, looting, and pillaging. ”

            Ah, well, in that case, i won’t waste any further time on you. I don’t accept your premise, or your assertions.

            • dagobarbz

              These critters are fun chew toys until their flavor runs out.

          • Tamist

            Lol are you really trying to tell me that if it weren’t for theism, you would be raping, looting and pillaging? You can’t come to the conclusion that those things are wrong on your own? You really need someone to tell you?

            • Really Realist

              LOL you believe in natural law but don’t believe in natural law LOL

              • Tamist

                It has been proposed that you might be a troll (I didn’t see this before I made my comment) but regardless, I’d like to know what you mean. And I’d also like to know the answer to the question – if all of a sudden I proved to you that god did not exist, would you go out and start raping, looting and pillaging?

                • Really Realist

                  You’re convinced that there are concrete moral imperatives that have the weight of “laws” like gravity that exist independently of some binding, original force to give such laws meaning. In a theistic universe, this is what Christian’s call “natural law.”

                  You are claiming that there is a natural law, i.e., a right and a wrong way of acting – independent of a deity. I find such an idea to be absurd – there isn’t any good reason not to do “bad” things or any bad reason not to do “good” things if the universe is just a big accident. Because who gives a shit?

                  I would certainly do more looting.

                • JohnnieCanuck

                  Don’t ever lose your faith, the world will be a worse place for everyone else. At least, if you could be counted on to be telling the truth. Which, clearly you can’t.

                  I think you fear the police far more than you do Hell. First because you have evidence that police and jails are real, and second because all you have to do is repent and pray for forgiveness and the threat of Hell is nullified.

                • Tamist

                  I believe there are truths in the world regardless of whether or not god exists. Like for example, whether or not god exists, 2 plus 2 will still equal 4 (and also your gravity example would still be true). So why are morals any different? Why is that for THESE truths and these truths alone do we need a god to determine the truth of them? 2 plus 2 equals four simply because it just does. It is a truth. Rape is wrong simply because it just is wrong (if you want me to go further into explaining why it is wrong I will oblige – it is wrong because it harms another living being for no sufficient reason). I am an atheist-leaning agnostic but my moral compass still tells me not to rape because it tells me not to harm other people. So isn’t that proof that you don’t need god to have morals? Or are you one of those people that thinks I am fooling myself and actually I really do believe in god? I can assure you, I don’t.

                  So you would do more looting but not rape or pillage? Why one and not the other two? Do you never ever desire sex? If no god means you can do whatever you want then why not just have sex when you want and disregard consent? What is it that makes you decide to loot but not rape? (btw if you were not joking/trolling then that is fucked up that you would loot if there were no god. Remind me not to be your neighbor. Though I really hope you aren’t trolling because it would be way more fun of a conversation.)

                • Tom

                  And society would destroy, punish or control you for that looting, because you threatened its stability and prosperity and hence survival. Social species and empathy are mechanisms for survival that have evident evolutionary fitness and will thus tend to arise in any situation in which natural selection applies, and thus are as inherent a property of systems of living organisms, as natural a law, as gravity is inherent a property of systems of massive particles. Sounds like natural moral law to me. Of course, not all species have it, and not all members of a species have it, thanks to mutation and variation.

              • Tom

                Define natural law.

            • phantomreader42

              He’s just delaying his raping and pillaging until the voices in his head give him permission to slaughter the infidels and bathe in their blood. The only reasons he’s not currently raping, killing, and eating everyone he sees is that he’s afraid the invisible man in the sky will spank him, and that he’s a cowardly sack of shit.

          • dagobarbz

            1. Reread this until grokkage. “Atheism isn’t an ideology and doesn’t have anything to say about existential angst or anything other than the existence of gods.”

            2. But killing unbelievers is. In that Old Testament you still turn to when the New Testament isn’t nasty enough.

            3. All atheism is, is disbelief in supernatural gods. That is all it is, so I don’t get why you’re running on about what it must or must not do. It’s a guy staying in bed on Sunday morning. That’s all it is. Everyone who makes a social thing out of being atheist, or having gatherings or discussions choose to expand on their lack of belief by extending social invitations to others who feel the same way.

            There are wiener dog clubs for the same reason. So I think you are overthinking what atheism really is as opposed to what you imagine it is. But I get that you follow the words of bronze age goat herders and the like, so I don’t expect you’ll put much effort into figuring out atheism.

          • Tom

            I’m reminded of a line in Master and Commander when a man, wounded in battle, dies on the doctor’s operating table. The doctor reminds himself, having failed to save the man’s life, that it was not he who caused the death, but the enemy who fired the shot.

            Atheism doesn’t necessarily provide any relief from existential angst, although it allows for the possibility*, but it doesn’t cause it either. Atheism is simply failing to delude oneself in the face of that angst.

            *I fail to see why contriving our own moral structures could be a reprehensible thing, which seems to be your implication.

      • dagobarbz

        How do you know there’s “no point?” I think the POINT is, enjoy your life now instead of hoping for gold-plated streets in Heaven later because this is the joke. This is your life. Maybe the only one you’ll ever have. So don’t waste your time with smelly goat herd philosophies.

        • Really Realist

          So the child born blind and deaf with no arms and no legs…

          • JohnnieCanuck

            Is what, a punishment on its parents? Maybe it’s for the better good and someone will get a pass for Heaven because they were nice to the child?

            The existance of birth defects is strong evidence against an Omnibenevolent god.

          • 3lemenope

            Still has an inner life worth respecting, and a reasonable demand that others treat them as fully human.

            Something that Christians have, historically, had a great deal of trouble doing, usually blaming physical infirmities on those who suffer them, or failing that, “demons”.

            Thing is, applied science has a good shot at giving sight to the sightless, hearing to the deaf, and limbs to the amputees. Prayer doesn’t do that, and never has.

            • Really Realist

              You’ve now revealed yourself to be completely full of shit.

              • 3lemenope

                Oh? Which part? The part where historically Christians have kicked and blamed the sick and infirm for their own conditions, or the part where science is better than religion at actually making the sick well and the infirm firm?

              • phantomreader42

                Well, if anyone knows about being completely full of shit, it’d be you!

    • joey_in_NC

      The ideas that caused this man’s pain were the direct result of the
      central ideas of Christianity coming into conflict with reality.

      What exactly are these “central ideas of Christianity” that came into “conflict with reality”?

      Funny, because I’ve never come across everyone will live forever or everyone will be immune from all pain and suffering as central ideas of Christianity.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Try the Devil is real and he can totally possess your friends. Or atheists worship the Devil, which is not a central tenet of Christianity but seems to be a common theme among fundamentalist Christians.

        Neither of those statements conform to reality, just FYI.

        • joey_in_NC

          Aren’t we talking about the tragic incident that involved Yim and Phan?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Oh. In that case, the central idea of Heaven exists and your relatives will see you there. Also not congruent with reality. Death is final so far as all the evidence available to us suggests.

      • phantomreader42

        How about “anyone who doesn’t worship our imaginary friend deserves to be burned alive forever for his depraved entertainment”? That’s a pretty central tenet among all christians who promote the dogma of hell, without the threat of which the cult wouldn’t have nearly as much money, power, and members.

      • Matt Dillahunty

        From another article on this story: “Phan asked Yim where God was when Yim’s father died of a stroke several years earlier.”

        What are the central ideas…?

        That god won’t abandon you. That god can and will heal you. That god protects…etc.

        There’s a reason that discussions about why God allows suffering have persisted – because reality appears to be in conflict with some of the ideas present in Christianity. That’s why it’s one of the major points of the new, exploregod.com initiative.

        You can also add to this the idea that the devil is real and is out to get you…and that those who speak against god are tools of evil.

        There are lots of ways to interpret the scriptures, which is why we have so many denominations. In no way was I implying that Christianity holds that everyone will live forever or be immune to pain and suffering, though I will point out that there are verses that support the idea that the elect cannot be harmed. I also wasn’t implying that every denomination holds the same beliefs or that they affect everyone the same.

        Christianity also provides a mechanism for dealing with grief that doesn’t map to reality and may not be particularly pleasant (the idea of an afterlife with a heaven and a hell).

        We’re talking about an individual who was clearly not prepared to deal with the loss of his grandfather and the implications that either god had abandoned him or punished him or ignored his pain or sent him to hell…the list goes on and on. He clearly had no response to the argument, whereas other believers might have had better responses (one would hope) or might not even suffer from the same beliefs.

        • joey_in_NC

          I appreciate your response and clarification.

      • dagobarbz

        I reckon the trigger was the point that hey, while God is supposed to be all knowing and all loving he let your daddy die. Why would he do that to a good christian? (unless he isn’t real…)

        • joey_in_NC

          Again, I’ve never come across everyone will live forever as a central idea of Christianity.

          • Carmelita Spats

            John 12:25…Says Jesus-On-A-Pogo-Stick, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Creepy cult shit….I can’t even begin to elaborate on the damage that this one sicko verse has done. Lose the Jesus, gain the pogo stick. Boing. Boing.

            • Tainda

              That pogo stick has got to be hard with those robes on!

              I missed another good discussion. I need to get on more at night lol I love trolls!

              • Carmelita Spats

                Who said anything about robes? LOL! I imagined him in a skimpy loincloth, hopping around on the pogo stick while flashing his trademark dazzling grin. According to Revelation 19:16, Jesus has a tattoo on his thigh, “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Way cool! I always pictured him wearing black Diesel jeans, Hugo Boss motorcycle boots and a snug tank top with “CUTIE” written across his chest. This Jesucristo makes regular appearances on a giant tortilla at a roadside taco stand in Zacatecas, Mexico.

                • Tainda

                  Oh thanks, now I think Jesus is hot

          • guest

            Except for all that “eternal life” stuff. But hey, it’s not like eternal life is a central idea of Christianity. It’s not like eternal life is the main claim used by the church to make their believers do (and not do) things.

            Oh wait.

      • And stuff

        There’s the whole ‘eternal life’ concept.

    • LesterBallard

      “he killed him because the atheist asked a difficult question that triggered an emotional response that he wasn’t equipped to deal with.”

      Three years ago this Sunday, my niece’s husband murdered her and his 8 year old step son. Brutally. With a machete. You have any idea how tired I got of hearing how he was in Heaven now and he was better off and all that shit? I never said a fucking word, let alone harmed anyone. Religion is shit.

      • dagobarbz

        Agreed. I was not arguing that my father’s death after a decline into alzheimers’ was not a bad thing, because anyone would be better off not being a living zombie. That is rational and not inflammatory. But yeah, the people gently trying to comfort with promises of my dad capering about in Heaven just made me clench my teeth around an insincere smile while squeezing out polite thanks. I get that this sharing of superstition is meant to comfort those who share this belief. Just kind of pissed me off.

    • Tom

      I rather think there is an aspect of the tenets of Christianity that triggered this – the notion of existence after death, and of heaven. It’s not just that strong emotions were triggered by memory; the question posed both raised the possibility that the comforting delusion that this fellow’s father still exists in some form is actually false, and also presented a reasonably strong argument to support this position, that the other guy had no means of refuting. Turning the tables, is there actually any such similar effect? Atheists have no comforting delusions about death to be overturned, though we’ll likely respond to the memory of dead parents in the same emotional manner.

      I suppose, if the Christian could ask a similar question in such a way that it raised the possibility of the atheist’s parent being tortured for eternity in hell, and could present a similarly strong argument for this being true, then we might see a similar response.

      The subtlety is that it would actually seem to be the tenets of Christianity that would provoke the outrage in either case – the Christian outraged because the atheist demonstrates the positive tenets of his faith regarding death are likely false; the hypothetical athiest outraged because the Christian demonstrates the negative tenets of his faith regarding death are likely true.

  • guest

    More acts to enforce my anti-theist stance. Fuck religion.

  • Garymother Freekincoleman

    Hemant you are one hell of a tribute to the truth of this situation, thank you.

  • quickshot

    Thank you for the fair reporting, Hemant.

    • joey_in_NC

      I concur.

  • Nick Bradvica

    Belief in the supernatural eliminates the desire to be naturally super.

  • bilwis

    clearly Arthur Shelton and Douglas Yim are the devil, in theory, as in, their choice to take action recklessly. how did these unstable, and dear i say intolerant, crazy, ass hats (imo) ..get guns? in the end there is no “good death”.

  • atheisticallyyours

    Shit like this reenforces my atheism, and really makes me want to go on a SERIAL KILLING SPREE against theists! After all, could you blame us, for all the VICTIMIZING done to us?

    • Bitter Lizard

      Yes, we’d blame you. We’d never hear the end of it. Theists can kill atheists all they want without getting much flack as a group for it. Atheists don’t have the same luxury. The double-standard makes it more important that we don’t do theisty things like kill a bunch of people.

      • Really Realist

        So the reason not to kill theists is because it will be bad PR for atheists. Gotcha, Bitter Lizard.

        • phantomreader42

          Thank you for this clear and open admission that you have no intention of being honest or acting in good faith. It saves time.

          • Really Realist

            Do you wear suspenders? I imagine you snapping them after typing out that self-satisfied comment.

            You show me where Bitter Lizard criticizes the obviously *insane* words by atheisticallyyours.

            I notice you didn’t criticize them, either.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              Funny how you didn’t criticize Yim just now for his committing murder. Therefore, you are fine with his having committed murder.

              Oh, I’m sorry, did you not realize how stupid your complaint sounds when turned around?

              • Bitter Lizard

                He actually did blame the victim in a comment below.

                • Really Realist

                  Guy ran his mouth, guy got capped. Shit happens.

                • Bitter Lizard

                  Uh-huh. You really gotta commit to either “moral outrage” trolling or “total sociopath” trolling, because the two don’t compliment each other that well. I guess trying to graduate from troll school was just one of many failures in life that turned you into what you are today.

                • Really Realist

                  What you want is for me to be all weepy that a coked up guy killed another coked up guy during a feud, in which the “victim” was obviously acting like a complete fuck face.

                  For the record: I am sorry that the guy got killed. But I can’t get exactly emotional about it. Atheism, true or false, compared to theism, is downright *unpleasant.* You shock someone with it, you might get shocked back.

                • phantomreader42

                  Given that you celebrate murder and torture, your opinion of what is unpleasant is just as worthless as the rest of your dishonest bullshit.

                • phantomreader42

                  “Really Realist”, sociopathic advocate of murder for jeebus:

                  Guy ran his mouth, guy got capped. Shit happens.

                  If someone said this about you, or a member of your sick death cult, you’d never stop screaming. But when YOU blame a murder victim for his own murder because he didn’t suck your imaginary friend’s cock hard enough, you can’t imagine what could possibly be wrong with that, because you are a wad of excrement poorly sculpted into a crude mockery of a human form.

              • Really Realist

                You’re deranged, Honeycutt. You have someone actively threatening murder in this thread *based on his persecution complex* and yet you say nothing. Your silence speaks volumes.

                There is no reason for me to “criticize” Yim. He deserves to be in prison or a mental hospital.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Good job completely ignoring the point, dimwit. Oh, and I did say something. Jesus wept but you are a stupid little thing.

                  Meanwhile, you continue to do the exact thing you’re complaining about even when it’s pointed out to you. Your projection is showing.

                • Really Realist

                  You have no point. You have an actual person threatening murder in this thread and you do nothing.

                  Mr. Yim didn’t act based on any imperative in his religion, and to claim he did so is either dishonest or ignorant.

                • dagobarbz

                  I’m not hearing any threat of murder. I hear people shooting their mouths off (ouch) on a website. Verbal posturing is not the same as exploding a church full of Christers. You should not take verbal posturing as genuine. It devalues your argument to descend into hyperbolic spittle spewing. AAAUUUGH! ATHEIST SERIAL KILLER THERE!

                  See? That just looks silly!

                • Really Realist

                  Imagine…

                  “Shit like this reenforces my Christianity, and really makes me want to go on a
                  SERIAL KILLING SPREE against atheists! After all, could you blame us,
                  for all the VICTIMIZING done to us?”

                  You’d flip your fucking Reddit-reading shit.

                • dagobarbz

                  Are you stupid or what?

                  “Really makes me feel like xxx” =/= “I’m going to go do xxx.”

                  You people who dangle from the hyperbolic anus of people who do not do linguistic nuance amuse me.

            • phantomreader42

              So, since you’re here whining about what some lunatic said in a comment on the Internet instead of criticizing christians who actually murder people, then that means you support murder for jesus. Thank you for proving beyond any possible doubt that christianity is a monstrous death cult fit only for sociopaths.

              • Really Realist

                You directly responded to someone who uses their “persecuted atheism” as an excuse to go on a “serial killing spree” without criticizing the remark outside of its likelihood to cause bad PR.

                Mr. Yim didn’t use Christianity (we’re still not sure if he even *was* a Christian) as an excuse for anything. He was on drugs. He was obviously mentally unwell. You’re comparing apples to oranges. You have a *potential serial murdered* in your midst, and have done nothing. Why aren’t you contacting the police?

                • Bitter Lizard

                  Considering how you and your tribe reacted to an actual murder committed by one of you, I’m assuming you’re trying to be funny.

                • Really Realist

                  Things I learned today from my intellectual superiors :

                  #1: A loose affiliation of over a billion people is a “tribe.”

                • Bitter Lizard

                  And that’s the best you can do? You really aren’t a very good troll. Keep telling yourself that your imaginary friend loves you so you don’t have to kill yourself, big guy.

                • JohnnieCanuck

                  It is. There’s more than one definition and you are playing word games. Tribe can define ‘Us’ vs. ‘Them’. There can be sub-tribes as seen in some Christians ‘Othering’ people who claim to be Christians too.

                  What are you, a splitter or a joiner?

                • phantomreader42

                  No, I directly responded to a delusional sociopathic bigot using his imaginary friend as an excuse to bear false witness against atheists and celebrate murder, by pointing out that you’re a lying sack of shit whose only reason for being here is to lie and be an asshole.

                • Really Realist

                  Oooh, the blind, mindless, impotent hatred. You must be a very unhappy person.

                • phantomreader42

                  “Really Realist”, sociopath for jeebus:

                  Oooh, the blind, mindless, impotent hatred. You must be a very unhappy person.

                  Wow, that’s some weapons-grade projection you’ve got there!

        • Bitter Lizard

          Obviously not, I just chose to emphasize that he would only be doing theists a favor by sinking to their level. Since we’ve seen how much theists celebrate after an atheist is murdered by one of their own, it’s understandable to be enraged, but all the more important to recognize that the last thing we want to do is turn into the vile, deranged monsters we despise.

    • Mario Strada

      I can only hope there is some irony there, somewhere.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Afraid not. Ugh.

  • Really Realist

    The truly boggling thing is that an explanatory post such as yours, Hemant, is even necessary. Two men engage in a drug-addled conversation, and someone gets shot. People argue and kill over all sorts of shit. A man shot someone on the subway the other day because he got his foot stepped on.

    The guy was off his rocker. Any attempt to spin this into the “persecuted atheist” myth is simply further evidence of modern atheism embarrassingly juvenile current state.

    • Mario Strada

      Troll Alert

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      The truly boggling thing is that you’re ignorant of how common it is for acts to be taken against atheists because of their atheism, so common that the reasonable assumption would be that any given similar act is religiously motivated, and yet you’re arrogant enough to believe that you have a worthwhile opinion on matters concerning modern atheism.

      • Really Realist

        “Ignorant of how common it is for acts to be taken against atheists because of their atheism”

        Persecution complex.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Persecution complex.

          Ignorance of issues commonly seen on the site you’re commenting on, combined with the narcissism required to keep talking anyway.

          • Really Realist

            Mass persecution complex.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Atheism today is as it always has been; denial of the evidence for any gods. Modern atheism differs only in its tendency to refuse to sit down, keep quiet and show respect. That and the amplification effect of the Internet.

      Theists have had thousands of years to get it right, yet they still cling to the juvenile myth of a Father figure that cares for them personally and that created a hundred billion galaxies with a hundred billion stars in each, just so they can be the Chosen ones.

      You seem to be projecting the “persecuted Christian in America” myth onto atheists. To turn it back around for you, when was the last time you heard her atheist State Representative characterise a Christian student as an “evil little thing”, when she was already getting rape and death threats from the atheist majority in her school, in letters to the editor and on Facebook? If you took the trouble, you could look up the lists of atheists suffering at the hands of Christians in America.

      • CandyPerfumeGirl

        what evidence of god you moron?

  • LesterBallard

    I don’t have to ask myself; I know damn well if the atheist had killed the Christian it would be because he’s an atheist, like Stalin, and Mao, and Pol Pot.

    • Obazervazi

      Don’t forget Hitler :P

    • CandyPerfumeGirl

      that’s such a garbage argument. Hitler didnt kill people because he was an atheist. In fact, he wasnt an athiest he was catholic, but that’s beside the point. Let’s say Stalin. Stalin wasnt an evil dictator bec of his atheism. He didnt sit there thinking “:gee, i dont believe in god, let me an evil dictator”. he opposed religion because it was just another institution competing with his dictatorship and communism. The actions of religious people, on the other hand, are always informed by their faith. Abortion, stem cell research, marriage equality – it’;s all because of their damn religion. So next time you engage in this false analogy remember that..

      • LesterBallard

        Maybe it’s my fault. It’s not my analogy. It’s what I often hear from Christians. Maybe I wasn’t clear. Then again, maybe you have reading comprehension problems.

  • LesterBallard

    Three years ago this Sunday, my niece’s husband murdered her and his 8 year old step son. Brutally. With a machete. You have any idea how tired I got of hearing how he was in Heaven now and he was better off and all that shit? I never said a fucking word, let alone harmed anyone. Religion is shit.

    • Bitter Lizard

      Thank you. And sorry to hear about that.

    • Really Realist

      Wow! You didn’t harm anyone for expressing a commonly held belief! You’re an atheist saint!

      • Bitter Lizard

        Evidently he is a saint by your standards, since you rationalized the murderer’s actions based on what the atheist said to him.

        • Really Realist

          Oh, that really *riled* you didn’t it? Trigger warning, amirite?

          • Bitter Lizard

            No, you can’t rile me because you aren’t a very good troll. I’m actually getting bored with you, but I did want to take one more opportunity to use you as the shining example of theism that you are.

            • JohnnieCanuck

              Still, as trolls go, it’s pretty bog standard. My bingo card is almost full.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Your being a foul, rotting little thing doesn’t actually hurt anybody beyond arms’ length from you. Actually, your radius of menace is probably much smaller, given how terrified you are of others.

      • LesterBallard

        Thank you for missing the point.

        • phantomreader42

          It’s one of his few talents.

  • Nelson

    Truly sick of religion.
    Truly.

  • Seannon McLeoud

    I hate to say this………wait, no i don’t. If the atheist killed the theist, it would just be called murder, and christians would be screaming about it being an atheistic hate crime or some other such nonsense.

  • StandardXI

    You’ve got this one wrong. A person being an atheist is irrelevant to any question but whether or not they believe in a god or gods. Whether a person is religious on the other hand is directly relevant to explain exactly what ridiculous nonsense led them to murder someone.

  • mavp

    I have never understood why atheists capitalize the word god. Keep in mind that the word god is only considered a proper noun when it is used to refer to the Christian one-true-god. If you refer to any other god, it’s not capitalized.

    Personally, I refuse to honor their insistence that theirs is the one-true-god.

    • CandyPerfumeGirl

      i dont capitalize god, only in a title for an article or blog i write

      • mavp

        I’m confused. I thought that I was leaving a general comment related to the article above, but it seems I might have somehow replied to a comment you made. Unless, are you Hemant Mehta? The author of this article? If so ….

        “That’s the story that came to my mind when I heard about how 33-year-old Douglas Yim was found guilty of first-degree murder yesterday for killing 25-year-old Dzuy Duhn Phan after an argument over God’s existence.”

        If you are Mehta, aren’t those your words? The word god is definitely capitalized there. Was that a slip/typo?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          DISQUS must be acting up again. I’m seeing a lot of posts this week that read as if they’re intended to be replies, but are being posted as stand-alones.

          In English grammar, “God” is capitalized when referring to a specific entity. It’s equivalent to a proper name. Not capitalizing it in the quoted sentence would just be bad grammar; respect for the fictional entity has nothing to do with it. You capitalize it for the same reason you capitalize “Voldemort”.

          I have no problem with someone not capitalizing it, but if they are trying to make themselves clear, they have no reason not to. Hemant’s a teacher who writes as a professional activist and who is not actively working to offend people over trivialities or to undermine his own credibility; of course he’ll capitalize the word.

          • mavp

            It’s only a rule of English grammar because Christianity has dominated the English speaking world for centuries. And, it’s only capitalized when referring to their god. You wouldn’t capitalize god when referring to Buddha.

            Equating this to Voldemort is wrong. Voldemort is a name. The word god is not a name. The Christian god is Yahweh. I’m not saying that Yahweh shouldn’t be capitalized.

            Let’s say that Ford Motor Co. dominated Western culture to such a degree that the word car is capitalized, but only when referring to a Ford.

            I might say that my Car is in the shop, so I need to borrow your car to get to work tomorrow, because you foolishly drive a Chevrolet. That is closer to what we’re discussing here.

            I don’t consider language, or its usage, to be trivial.

  • Hatchetmaniac

    “When Shelton killed Hooper, it wasn’t really because Hooper was an atheist. Rather, Hooper’s atheism triggered some crazy thoughts in the mind of Shelton that eventually led him to kill his roommate.”

    I really don’t see much of a distinction. You could make the same argument about a man shooting his wife after catching her in bed with another man, “it wasnt’ really because he caught her having sex with his best friend. Rather, her affair triggered some crazy thoughts in his mind that eventually led him to kill his wife.”

    Does my sarcasm meter need calibrating?

  • bickle2

    This is what theists like to call a “teachable moment”. Christians, and the other Abraham make religions are required to kill us. I remind Christians of this on a daily basis that I’m worthy of death at least half a dozen times over. If they don’t have the guts to kill me, then they’re not a good Christian.

    Of course doing that on the mentally unstable perhaps isn’t the best idea.

  • Chase200mph

    While an otherwise rational, well educated and intellectual man may still believe in the bible/god, this same man has no rational, educated or intellectual reason to do so. Religion is a disease, and diseases replicate…. it’s as simple as that.
    Chase200mph


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