January 16, 2008

Accused Murderer Says God Made Him Kill

Whenever someone commits a horrible crime and then claims that some god told them to do it, believers and non-believers unite to reject the claim. Non-believers have an easy time rejecting the "god make me do it" defense because we reason that mythical beings cannot influence human behavior. We might accept the possibility that the criminal's belief contributed to the action, or we might look for mental illness. The believer often has a different path to the same conclusion. For the believer, god did not command them to engage in the despicable act because god would never do such a terrible thing. Of course, one only has to read the Christian bible or listen to Pat Robertson to realize that this is simply not true.

The community of Tyler, TX, is reeling in the aftermath of a gruesome murder that would make Jeffrey Dahmer proud. 25 year-old Christopher Lee McCuin has been arraigned for allegedly killing and mutilating his 21-year-old girlfriend, Jana Shearer.
Shearer's boyfriend, Christopher Lee McCuin, 25, was charged with capital murder after police said they found her body, an ear boiling in a pot on a stovetop, and a hunk of flesh with a fork in it on a plate at the crime scene.
What makes this case relevant here is that police indicate that McCuin told them that his god, presumably the Christian god, made him kill Shearer.

As an atheist, I can dismiss this claim on the grounds that I do not accept the reality of the Christian god. I can accept the possibility that McCuin may have actually believed what he allegedly told investigators. Of course, I can also accept the possibilities that he lied to avoid responsibility or that he is suffering from serious mental illness.

The most common response from believers in cases like this is that the claim must be false because their god would never do such a thing. Christians who use this argument have evidently never read their own bibles. If they did, they would discover that their god supposedly commanded believers to commit all sorts of atrocities. In addition, I find it fascinating that many of the same Christians who would make this claim have little trouble believing Pat Robertson's claims that their god sends natural disasters to punish us for being tolerant of homosexuals, allowing abortion, or expecting that our schools will teach science rather than creationist bullshit, etc.

If Christians want to dismiss the possibility that their god may have actually commanded McCuin to do what he did, they are going to need to come up with some other rationale for doing so.

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