fbpx

The Devil Went Down to Georgia – and Got Johnny’s Soul

Illustration cedit: G3

You know the classic song The Devil Went Down to Georgia, where Johnny outplayed the devil on the fiddle and not only saved his soul but also won a golden fiddle?

Well I’ve got bad news for ya. By beating the devil in their little fiddle competition, Johnny didn’t save his soul. Assuming he didn’t repent later, from the way Johnny acted, he may even have lost his soul.

Johnny’s key sin: pride. Dante in his Inferno intones that pride is the worst of the Seven Deadly Sins.

The devil loves pride, and hates humility – which is why the Lord was born into the world in very humble circumstances, and left this world in very humiliating circumstances. (The Romans designed crucifixion to not only give you an excruciatingly painful death, but also a humiliating death.)

Johnny’s fatal words: “But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret, ‘Cause I’m the best there’s ever been”.

He drives home the point later: “I’m the best there’s ever been.”

Johnny, you should have told the devil that you’re the worst there’s ever been. Even if you outplayed him on the fiddle, you still should have said he was the better player and deserved to win, and that he should keep that golden fiddle. You should have recited the Litany of Humility prayer every day, and lived it out. Then perhaps you wouldn’t have lost your soul.

In fact, that whole fiddle-playin’ contest was all a set-up by the devil – a ruse. The devil knew all about ole’ Johnny and all his weaknesses – observing him since he was a baby. He decided to one day exploit Johnny’s key weakness – pride.

The devil is constantly deceiving. That’s why he’s called the Father of Lies.

So the next time you’re listening to The Devil Went Down to Georgia, tell whoever is listening to it with you that the song is actually wrong. The way Johnny acted bore all the hallmarks of losing his soul to the devil.

That is, unless Johnny went and made a good confession later on.

Want Better Health? Go to Church

Source: American Red Cross www.redcrossneny.org

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, you should be a Christian because you really want to follow the teachings of Christ, not because of any worldly benefits that come with being a Christian.

Even so, there’s one worldly benefit associated with being a regular church-goer that’s worth noting: good physical and mental health. Numerous studies have shown that those who attend weekly religious services enjoy better health, on average, than those who don’t.

Statistically, frequent church-goers live an amazing average of seven years longer than non-church-goers, according to an academic study.

With so many fitness buffs and longevity-obsessed folks, one would think more of them would embrace the Church, given all of the research linking faith and health. Again, this shouldn’t be the main reason for embracing the Church. But it could be an incentive that gets them in the door. Once there, they may even evolve in their attidude and start to go to church out of love of God rather than love of health.

That’s sort of what happened to this observer. After being away from the Church for a number of years, I came back to it upon getting married. Yet I was still lukewarm in the Faith. I read that greater longevity among church-goers could be because of the social relationships one forms there. (I later realized that it’s actually mainly because of the spiritual relationship one forms with God.) It’s one of the things that prompted me to join a men’s group in my church. That along with other positive influences led me to prioritize my spiritual health over my physical health.

So again, while the health benefits of church shouldn’t be an end-all and be-all, they can be a useful incentive.

Atheists, agnostics and non-church-goers take note: your group as a whole suffers, on average, higher rates of physical ailments, depression, suicide, alcohol use and drug addiction. Your group has greater marital instability, weaker parent-child relationships, lower lifetime earnings, lower educational attainment and higher rates of criminal activity. Of course, you personally may be fine. But statistically, you’re at higher risk of the above.

These aren’t some trumped-up claims made by people with a religious ax to grind. These are the conclusions of many scholars in the sciences and social sciences whose work appears in numerous non-religious scholarly journals including Demography, Psychological BulletinJournal of Personality and Clinical Studies, Social Science Research, and Preventive Medicine.

Headlines in LiveScience.com — hardly a religious or conservative publication — include “Churchgoers live longer,” “Online prayer helps cancer patients,” “Churchgoers breathe easier” and “Why religion makes people happier.”

Why would preparation for your well-being in the afterlife lead to greater physical and mental well-being in this life?

Religious belief often prompts one to view one’s body as sacred and a gift from God, which reduces the likelihood of such factors as smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating, unsafe driving, physical inactivity and substance abuse. Religious persons also tend to have a greater support network of family and friends, which encourages healthier lifestyles. And as indicated above, direct intervention from God no doubt has something to do with it.

People prone to anxiousness and depression tend to die sooner than would otherwise be the case, and religious practice often reduces those negative mental conditions. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that very religious persons are less likely to have been diagnosed with depression during their lifetimes than the moderately religious or nonreligious.

The evidence that religion has such a strong positive effect on health and well-being is so compelling that some non-religious mental health professionals even recommend religion therapy for their patients. “Religious therapy resulted in significantly faster recovery from depression when compared with standard secular cognitive-behavioral therapy,” according to a study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

It definitely cuts down on suicide. A New York Department of Transportation worker, Isidor Suarez, talked a man out of jumping off a bridge. After confirming the man was a Christian, Suarez told him, “If you kill yourself, it’s like murder.” The man relented. He must have recalled the Christian teaching that suicide is a sure ticket to hell.

The hell factor I’m sure is just one of the many factors resulting in less suicide among church-goers. An American Journal of Psychiatry study found that they’re significantly less likely to commit suicide than those who never attend religious services. The latter saw fewer reasons for living and had fewer moral objections to suicide.

Another very secular institution, National Public Radio, featured a story that goes a long way in explaining why religion has such a profound positive effect on outcomes and behavior. The perception that someone or something is always watching, evaluating and judging your every move can make a model citizen out of you in no time.

NPR interviewed Jesse Bering, director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University, Belfast, and a committed atheist. He conducted a fascinating study where he divided children into three groups and had them do a game where it was almost impossible to win unless they cheated. One group was unsupervised, another group was supervised and another group was told an invisible magic princess was watching them.

The results? You guessed it — while the unsupervised group cheated the most, the magic princess group was just as likely to not cheat as the group supervised by a human.

The NPR reporter mentioned a similar study with adults showing that people are far less likely to cheat when they think a supernatural presence is watching them.

“God knows what you did. God is going to punish you for it. And that’s an incredibly powerful deterrent,” Dominic Johnson of the University of Edinburgh told NPR. “Everywhere you look around the world, you find examples of people altering their behavior because of concerns for supernatural consequences of their actions.”

The French philosopher Voltaire is said to have banned any talk of atheism around his servants. “I want my lawyer, tailor, valets, even my wife, to believe in God,” he said. “I think that if they do, I shall be robbed less and cheated less.”

What if you’re an atheist or agnostic who’s convinced that church is a good thing, but you just can’t bring yourself to believe?

Go to church anyway. As reported by LiveScience.com, a study in the American Sociological Review concluded that the social networks one forms at church are a big factor in boosting well-being. People with more than 10 friends in their congregation were almost twice as satisfied with life as people with no friends in their congregation. And who knows — you just may come around to believing.

If you still can’t be a believer, raise your kids to be, if you have any. While it’s no guarantee, chances are that it will help them live longer and be happier.

And, as predicted based on the magic princess example above, religious kids are more likely to be better behaved and adjusted, according to a study. (Although the opposite could happen if parents regularly argue over their faith at home, the study found.) Another study concluded that religious children have higher self-control and lower impulsiveness, and do better at delaying gratification and social adjustment.

This begs the question: Would the well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens have lived longer than age 62, had he not embraced atheism?

Not necessarily. If it was smoking and drinking that led to his throat cancer, turning toward religion certainly may not have tempered his preference for booze and tobacco. There are plenty of unhealthy church-goers who die before their time, and lots of healthy atheists who live long and fruitful lives.

Statistically, however, the religious outdo the atheists when it comes to longevity and satisfaction.

Another French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, urged atheists to make a wager. Embracing religion means you have everything to gain in the afterlife if there’s a God, and nothing to lose if there isn’t a God.

But it’s not just the afterlife. When it comes to being healthy and happy, embracing religion means you have everything to gain and nothing to lose in this life, too.

 

(A version of the above article previouslly appeared in The Daily Caller.)

Seeing Divinity in Biology

Studying biology is a religious experience. That’s especially the case today, with the advent of 3D animated videos (available on YouTube) depicting what goes on inside and outside our cells. Such videos display the wonderous engineering within our bodies – engineering vastly more sophisticated than any human-engineered phenomena (such as a car engine). The fingerprints of God are everywhere.

Too bad those videos weren’t available when this observer was in high school; I bet I would have taken biology a lot more seriously. I only was able to try to visualize what was going on by reading the printed word and looking at some pictures. My visualization efforts fell woefully short.

To say everything arose by chance is insulting to one’s intelligence. If it did arise by chance, where are all the 3D animated videos depicting how that chance process played out?

Alexander Tsiaras (screen grab via YouTube)

As associate professor of medicine and chief of scientific visualization at Yale University, Alexander Tsiaras and colleagues used new scanning technologies to see things about the human body “that just made one marvel,” he said in a TED talk. They were looking at collagen, which comprises much of the human body, a kind of rope-like structure that twirls and swirls. Collagen changes its structure in the cornea of the eye, becoming a grid formation in order to be transparent, as opposed to opaque. “So perfectly organized a structure, it was hard not to attribute divinity to it,” said he.

He also scanned the development of the fetus from conception to birth. The human heart at 25 days, he said, is like a magnificent origami. “I look at this with marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us? It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.”

Regarding capillaries, “The complexity of building that within a single system is, again, beyond any comprehension or any existing mathematics today.”

He adds, “How does the woman’s body understand to have genetic structure that not only builds her own, but then has the understanding that allows her to become a walking immunological, cardiovascular system that basically is a mobile system that can actually nurture, treat this child with a kind of marvel that is beyond, again, our comprehension – the magic that is existence, that is us?”

That’s a strong case for the existence of God.

It’s also a strong case against abortion. How could anyone so unceremoniously snuff out such a marvel of Divine engineering?

Richard Dawkins Isn’t Being Rational

Richard Dawkins. Photo credit: Matthias Asgeirsson via Wikimedia Commons

If you were booked to fly in an aircraft, and the plane’s mechanic told you that it “probably” won’t crash, would you still board it?

Prominent atheist-turned-agnostic Richard Dawkins has a campaign proclaiming “There’s Probably No God.” The term “atheist-turned-agnostic” is appropriate because “probably” implies that you’re not sure there’s no God, and thus agnostic. Dawkins, who had been one of the world’s most famous atheists, is now one of the world’s most famous agnostics. He called himself an agnostic, admitting that he can’t be sure God doesn’t exist.

Richard Dawkins isn’t being rational. Just as if someone definitively told you your plane probably won’t crash or has a decent chance of not crashing, it wouldn’t be rational to board that plane. Even if someone told you it only had a 1 percent chance of crashing – meaning of 100 similar planes taking off that day, one of them will crash – you wouldn’t board it (unless it was some life-and-death matter where you really had to fly).

For an agnostic, the rational thing to do is to accept Pascal’s Wager: If God exists, then if you follow His teachings you have everything to gain in an afterlife, and everything to lose if you don’t follow His teachings. If He does not exist then if you follow His teachings, you have nothing to lose. (Well, one could argue that you could lose a little bit in this life, such as having to go to church on Sunday when you instead could be sleeping in, but actually, those who go to church on Sunday win in this life because churchgoers live an average of seven years longer than non-churchgoers.)

Richard Dawkins and other agnostics, atheists, and non-practicing believers are taking a tremendous personal risk. An irrational risk. They’re putting themselves in grave danger – especially considering the enormous circumstantial and eyewitness evidence for the existence of God. If it turns out they’re wrong, they’re in for a rude awakening the day they die. According to the best sources of information on what happens to us after we die, someone who doesn’t follow God’s rules (i.e. the Ten Commandments, as well as others) here on earth could be consigned to be eternally separated from God after he or she dies. That essentially means being a slave and victim of some fallen angel, for an eternity. Ouch. Rationally, you wouldn’t want to remotely entertain that possibility.

Assume you think there’s a 1 percent chance of there being a place of eternal separation – better known as hell. Then, just as with your decision not to board that plane when it has a 1 percent chance of crashing, the rational thing to do is ensure that you never wind up there – by repenting and by dusting off those rules referred to earlier. To do anything less is irrational.

“Imagine No Religion” Becoming Reality

Photo credit: Nicholas Mutton, Wikipedia Commons

It’s symbolic – and ironic – that in Europe following terrorist attacks, the unofficial anthem of choice is John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

After the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris in which 130 people died, a pianist attracted the attention of millions via the mainstream press and social media when he played Imagine outside one of the places of carnage, The Bataclan. The previous February in the aftermath of killings in Copenhagen by a radical Muslim, tens of thousands of Danes sang Imagine at memorials across the country.

“Imagine there’s no heaven …. No hell below us … And no religion too,” go the lyrics.

It’s symbolic because religionless is what western Europe has become. Churches are closing for lack of worshipers. Only about 5-10 percent of the French go to church regularly. That percentage is even less in Denmark.

So the ethnic Europeans (as opposed to ethnic Arabs there) largely have attained one of the sentiments longed for in the song: no religion. They have abandoned the Christian faith.

Are they better off without Christianity? The all-to-common terrorist attacks there, along with the growing incidence of crime, suggests they are not.

European society still retains some Christian values. They include compassion, humility, generosity, self-control, and helping the poor and downtrodden. But as Christianity retreats, so do those values.

To be sure, John Lennon wasn’t totally off base. Isn’t it reasonable to conclude that God would want us to worship him in one consistent manner, rather than a through a multiplicity of belief systems, all contradictory with one another? The latter could indeed lead to mayhem.

In addition to the practical consequences of declining Christian values, there are spiritual consequences as well. As is taught over and over again in the Old Testament, turning away from God invites less protection from God. He protects us from the evil one all the time. Without such protection, the whole of the earth would degenerate into one big slaughterhouse.

That’s what’s happening in Europe. As America turns further away from God, we too tread on more dangerous territory.

It behooves those in Europe, America, and other Western nations to return to their Christian roots. Otherwise, expect more terrorist attacks for a long time to come.

 

(Excerpts of the above originally published in Newsmax.)

A Weak Reason for Leaving the Church

Camille Paglia. Photo credit: Fronteiras do Pensamento via Wikimedia Commons.

Some time ago America magazine interviewed social critic Camille Paglia wherein she discussed her abandonment of Catholicism.

“I asked the nun what still seems to me a perfectly reasonable and intriguing question: if God is all-forgiving, will he ever forgive Satan? The nun’s reaction was stunning: she turned beet red and began screaming at me in front of everyone. That was when I concluded there was no room in the Catholic Church of that time for an inquiring mind.”

Why doesn’t God forgive Satan? According to theologians, even if God did forgive Satan, he wouldn’t come back to God. Angels’ intellects are far superior to those of humans, and once they make a decision – which Satan (i.e. Lucifer) did when he chose to rebel against God – they accept and embrace that decision as final, with full knowledge of the consequences.

Moreover, God did not provide a plan of redemption for the angels (which includes Satan, a fallen angel) as He did for mankind.

It’s silly to leave the Faith because a nun couldn’t adequately answer that question.

One should not leave the Catholic Church based on personal preferences or based on dissatisfaction with a nun, priest, or other representatives of the Faith. One’s criteria for joining or leaving the Faith only should be based on whether the Faith is true – which it is.

By rejecting the Church, Ms. Paglia is taking an extreme risk. Best not to set oneself up for a rude awakening when it’s time to plop down on that judgement seat.

Go With What’s True

Mark Zuckerberg. Photo credit: TechCrunch via Wikimedia Commons

A while ago The Wall Street Journal featured an opinion article by Sander Tideman (“Can Mark Zuckerberg Find Enlightenment?”) urging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take up Buddhism, evidently because it would help him in business. Zuckerberg is said to be waivering in his faith in atheism.

If Mr. Zuckerberg adopts Buddhism then he’ll feel right at home as an atheist. Theravada Buddhism teaches the doctrine of nonsoul. It teaches there is no God, no Creator. It teaches that life is full of suffering – which Christianity teaches as well (as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve). Unlike Christianity, which teaches that one can escape suffering by meriting heaven, Buddhism teaches that the only way to escape suffering is by attaining the extinction of one’s existence.

Separately, the article promotes the fallacy that one should choose a religion based on what one likes – or in this case, what’s good for business. Instead, one should choose a religion based on which religion is true. There’s good evidence for the authenticity of the Gospels and divinity of Christ. There’s no evidence that Buddhism is true or that the Buddha was divine. In fact the Buddha allegedly even claimed he wasn’t a prophet or a god.

In the end, you want to go with the religion that’s true, not with the one that’s most pleasing to you. Otherwise you may come to regret that decision in the hereafter.

Believing in the Non-God of Nothingness

Self-assembled?

Atheists are people of great faith.

Yes, you read that right.

Atheists have amazing faith – in the power of spontaneous self-assembly.

It takes more faith to believe that the raw materials of the universe and that the laws of physics arose from nothing, and that those raw materials somehow self-assembled into stars, objects and and living organisms, than to believe that they were designed by an intelligent agent. That’s particularly remarkable because such assembly happened in defiance of the second law of thermodynamics – that things naturally go from order to disorder.

Cup with your hands some empty space in front of you. Then imagine nothing is there – not even any molecules. If you lack faith in God, then you believe in the unbelievable notion that (1) the laws of physics somehow appeared on their own, (2) subatomic particles such as electrons and quarks somehow appeared, (3) those particles somehow self-assembled into atoms, (4) those atoms somehow bonded to form molecules, (5) those molecules self-assembled into inorganic matter, (6) they also somehow self-assembled into in organic matter, namely amino acids as well as DNA, (5) those amino acids somehow self-assembled into proteins, all on their own, (6) those proteins somehow self-assembled into cells, and (7) those cells somehow self-assembled into bacteria, insects, plants, animals, and humans.

If you believe all that happened without the input of an intelligent agent, then you have a lot of faith in the impossible. You have faith in things for which there’s no evidence – not even circumstantial evidence. On the other hand, there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence for God. Just as a house is circumstantial evidence that it was created by a human or humans (not direct evidence because we didn’t directly see anyone building it decades ago), a tree or an animal is circumstantial evidence that it was created by an intelligent agent, i.e. God.

Walk into a factory. Tell someone that all the components and functions of that factory randomly and coincidentally fell into place over time. Absurd, right? It’s the same idea with the cell – a factory vastly more complex than any factory man could ever build. (For a flavor for that, watch the trailer at www.unlockingthemysteryoflife.com)

Take a pile of of Lincoln Logs. Watch them during the course of your lifetime and see if they ever self-assemble into a log cabin. Or add a stimulous – keep throwing them up in the air over the course of your lifetime and see if they ever land on the floor in the form of a perfectly assembled log cabin.

It’s much harder for the above-mentioned particles to self-assemble into the above-mentioned complex objects than it is for Lincoln Logs to self-assemble into a log cabin.

(It also takes a lot of faith not to believe in the divinity of Christ and authenticity of the Gospels. As former atheist Lee Strobel said, “In the face of this overwhelming avalanche of evidence in the case for Christ, the great irony was this: it would require much more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to trust in Jesus of Nazareth!” For more info read his book The Case for Christ or see his videos obtainable here.)

So to reiterate, given the abundant evidence of an intelligent creator, it takes more faith (in the non-god of nothingness?) not to believe in Him than to believe in Him.

Scientists Are Almost Sounding Religious

There’s an anti-religion website called Disbeliefnet, evidently created by comedian Bill Maher, which trumpets the motto, “You won’t believe what people believe.”

He’s right. People buy into a lot of outlandish and fantastical stuff that defy common sense and the laws of nature – in a word, miracles. Such propositions are so foreign to our five senses that it’s no wonder that so many academics and other highly educated people have no tolerance for them.

Here’s a sampling of bizarre, other-worldly, and downright fanciful notions that some people believe:

* There are other dimensions beyond our own.
* Certain entities can move through solid walls.
* Some things can be invisible.
* Certain things can travel back and forth through time.
* The same entity can be in multiple distinct locations at the same time.
* Certain entities can communicate instantaneously with other entities – that are billions of light years away.

Bill Maher could have a field day with this stuff.

In centuries past, people believed in the supernatural because they didn’t have science to explain things. Now, we’re nicely ensconced in the age of science and reason; if it’s not explainable by science, goes the thinking, then it can’t be true.

Or maybe not.

It turns out that the strange notions described above are championed by top physicists.

That’s right. The weirdness falls into the realm of quantum physics – the branch of physics that seeks to explain how subatomic particles behave.

Physicists often use the adjectives “bizarre” or “weird” when describing quantum physics – because things happen that defy classical physics or common sense. And they admit they can’t explain how such things happen.

So let’s get this straight. The secular elite disparages religion because they find silly the notion that there are spiritual beings that can exist in different dimensions, be invisible, go through solid walls, time travel, and carry out other seemingly miraculous activities.

Yet, renown scientists are telling us that subatomic particles can do all of these things.

If one accepts that, then it’s by no means a stretch to infer that there is a spiritual world in which similar things occur.

Far from being in conflict with each other, science and religion are complementary. Twentieth-century physicist and Nobel Prize-winner Eugene Wigner pointed out that materialism – the atheistic worldview that reality only consists of physical matter – is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”

Another Nobel Prize winner, neuroscientist John C. Eccles, posited that the spiritual mind and physical brain are independent entities, and that the two interact through quantum physics.

In quantum physics there are systems, laws, and observers. “There is something about observers like us that’s not reducible to (classical) physics,” said University of Delaware physicist Stephen Barr. He explained in a 2012 Research on Religion podcast interview that once you accept the nonphysical reality of our own minds, then it’s easier to accept the reality of greater minds, such as that of God. And given how incredibly orderly the universe is from a mathematical standpoint, which suggests a supreme designer, “Modern physics ought to make every particle physicist in the world get down on their knees,” he remarked.

The dictionary defines the term supernatural as “not existing in nature or not subject to explanation according to natural laws.” It’s also defined as “of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe.”

If that’s the case, then to this reporter, modern science indicates that the supernatural must exist. “An order of existence beyond the visible observable universe” immediately evokes dark matter and dark energy. Astrophysicists widely agree that the visible observable universe only makes up about 4 percent of all matter. The rest is matter that is invisible to us, known as dark matter, as well as dark energy. Scientists know it’s there because without the gravitational effects of dark matter, galaxies would fly apart.

Some physicists, notably Lisa Randall at Harvard, theorize that dark matter comes from higher dimensions, and that gravity is “leaking” from these dimensions. Apart from that, string theory has long predicted hidden dimensions. And at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, they’re working hard on finding evidence of other dimensions.

Oxford physicist David Deutsch considers there to be vast numbers of parallel worlds, and that perhaps someday we’ll be able to contact them using quantum computers.

To be sure, scientists very rarely use the term supernatural when describing quantum physics. And when discussing other dimensions, most physicists don’t touch the word “spiritual”. Whatever the case, all this talk of other dimensions blurs the lines between the definition of physical and spiritual.

And one thing is certain: for evidence of the supernatural, the theologians have a much stronger case than the secular elite. Science confirms it.

 

(Originally published in Newsmax.)

Moral Decay Begets Mass Killings

Mass killings used to be a rarity in America. What changed? What led to the era of mass killings?

It used to be even easier to buy a gun than it is now – no background checks required – yet people didn’t go around massacring just for the sake of it.

Preventing them from doing so was a stronger sense of morals, propriety, decency, respect for family, respect for life, and respect for God.

The 1960s are widely viewed as a time of accelerated moral decline in America. Recreational drug use, premarital sex, pornography, vulgarity, divorce, and violence shot up – in everyday life as well as in movies and TV. There was less of a sense of community and a sense of trust among citizens, and less involvement in civic and church groups.

It’s no coincidence that the 1960s were the beginning of the era of mass public killings, when in 1966 Charles Whitman killed 14 people and wounded 31 with a high-powered rifle from atop a tower at the University of Texas. The declining morals of that decade resulted in more widespread depression, anger, resentment, and mental illness, and less respect for and sacredness of life. The more people affected by such ills of society, the more likely a tiny minority of them do what Charles Whitman did.

There had been mass killings in previous decades, but those typically were associated with simultaneous criminal activity (such as killings during robberies or gang killings) or with familicides. Those crimes are heinous enough. But there’s something even more heinous, even more evil about mass public killings of people who are unknown to the assailant.

While violent crime overall declined since 1980 (until recent years, when homicides started to go back up in many cities), mass public killings have increased. In the 1970s there were an average of 1.1 mass public shootings per year, according to the Congressional Research Service. They rose to 2.7 in the 1980s, 4 in the 1990s, and 4.1 per year in the 2000s. (And these numbers don’t include the Timothy McVeigh or 9/11 terrorist attacks.) Such shootings have risen dramatically rise in the last five years, happening every 172 days on average since 1982 but every 64 days since mid-2011.

There’s of course a confluence of factors behind the rise in mass public killings. They include the influence of violent movies, TV shows and video games. The desire for fame – or more accurately infamy – is another motivation. The high divorce rate is a factor; most shooters come from broken homes. Another contributor are higher rates of mental illness, and, since the 1970s, a greater tendency to let dangerously mentally ill people roam free rather than commit them to institutions.

But the biggest factor is the declining prevalence of Christianity and Judaism in America. In 1955 Christians constituted 92 percent of the U.S. population and Jews 4 percent. By 2014 the numbers had declined to 72 percent and 2 percent respectively. Far fewer of them attend religious services regularly.

In tandem with the retreat of Judeo-Christianity is the retreat of Judeo-Christian values. They include forgiveness, compassion, humility, generosity, self-control, nonviolence, love of God, love of neighbor, love of enemies, and renunciation of worldly values such as pleasure, status, and fame.

An absence of Judeo-Christianity is associated with a cheapening of human life. The atheist and agnostic worldview presupposes that life arose by pure chance; that we’re merely animals in a more evolved form, living on a tiny, insignificant planet amid the vast universe. Many are led to believe, what’s the point of life? So mass killers seek to end their own life, along with as many other lives as they can.

While mass public killings are correlated with a declining prevalence of Judeo-Christianity, such is not the case of course vis-à-vis all religions. Islam shares many of the same values as that of Christianity and Judaism such as charity, honesty, generosity, purity, and self-restraint. Unfortunately for some practitioners of that religion, exhortations to kill the “infidel” often win out.

The only way to curb the rise in mass public killings, in addition to slowed immigration, is a return to the aforementioned virtues that were once widely held in America.

(Originally published in Newsmax)

%d bloggers like this: