Discussion: Muslim Student Murders A Wakeup Call For Atheists: We’re Capable Of Violence, Too

Discussion for article #233199

Let’s see, he was a avid atheist and a violent gun nut who loved the movie “Falling Down”. I wonder which would have played a greater roll in his SHOOTING! someone…hmmm…tough question, eh?


Then a man named Craig Hicks, an avid atheist, shot three young Muslim neighbors in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in what clearly appears to be a premeditated murder.

So where exactly is the evidence that this murder was motivated by Hicks’ anti-theism (which is different than Atheism, btw)? Just seems like more baseless speculation to get clicks for a “hot take” on a tragic incident.

So now the question is: What are atheists going to do about this? Atheism is a relatively new movement;

Why exactly should atheists have to do anything about this? Again, unless there’s evidence that Hicks did this horrible act in the name of atheism it seems a false question. Also, Atheism has been around for more than 300 years, I’d hardly call it a “new” movement, relatively or otherwise.


Atheists who were killers, too:
Napolean Bonaparte
Kim Jong Il
Jefferey Dahmer
Jim Jones
Benito Mussolini
Mao Zedong
Pol Pot
Josef Stalin

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I question whether atheists can be described as a “community”. It isn’t a really a club or community at all – it’s a non-club of people who don’t join clubs.

eg. Would it make sense when a person who doesn’t believe in astrology does something bad, for others to press the non-astrologist “community” to speak up?


How is this a wakeup call for Atheists? I’ve never once heard an Atheist proclaim that they are incapable of violence. What a silly ‘straw man’ article.


Because the “community” that the author is describing is the growing group of atheists who essentially treat atheism as a religion - a group of people behaving obnoxiously and attacking other groups who think differently than they do. At times they can actually be more annoying than the already annoying people who belong to organized religions.


If you don’t feel you need to understand… you will be failed by your ignorance.

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There is evidence. There’s the Facebook posts and there’s the evidence that the victims believed their faith was fueling the rising ire this guy had for them. Whether you choose to find that evidence conclusive or not is up to you, but it’s at least as strong as some of the evidence we’ve pointed to in support of what we’ve characterized as religiously motivated acts of violence by Christians or of racially motivated violence by whites and/or cops.

Was it the cause? The one, sole animating thing that drove it? That kind of hate crime is, fortunately, rare these days. Or at least a more rare, and often less fatal, than it used to be. But there’s good reason to believe that this guy’s issues with, not simply religion, but the religious contributed to the escalation to murder.

And I’ve found it interesting to see how very similar the response of many atheists to these murders has been to that of Christians or “I’m Not Racist, But . . .” whites when you confront them with the evidence that race played a role in a particular act of violence. It seems like for many (and I’m not saying you specifically), the very idea that an atheist could engage in violence as a result of hostility to religion has challenged a core belief they didn’t know they had about the extent to which religion, rather than something innately human, is the true source of evil in the world.


One thing I’ve loved (hated) about watching this news story unfold on Reddit is how atheists who were quick to dismiss all “no, Muslims are not all evil” arguments are equally quick to defend this as a story of nuance and multiple causes that can’t be simply attributed to one factor.

I am an antitheist, but the very adoration of rationality that’s so common in the New Atheist movement is often glib and painfully devoid of reason.


We are not content simply to not believe, but are outspoken and aggressive in pointing out the logical fallacies of belief while also criticizing the negative influence faith has on society.

My issue is with calling myself an “Athiest” simply because I choose not to ‘believe’ in divine powers… Atheism is the active denial that there is a God, not just choosing not to believe. Therefore, I’m starting a new Irrelevantist movement! Irrelevantists everywhere think (or try not to) this whole debate about the existence or active denial that there is a God won’t help you take a crap any easier, so why waste time on the discussion, and stay focused on the important things in life?


They sure look like a community on most every Internet commenting forum. And the response to this episode sure looks an awful lot like what one would expect from a group whose collective group identity is under perceived threat.

So, please. Don’t be absurd. Of course atheists are a club. They read the same stuff, share common memes, share stories of their awakening with each other, and seek support from each other as much as recovering alcoholics or born again Christians or people who switch political ideologies do. And many of them are every bit as overbearingly, smugly evangelical as any fundamentalist Christian.

Being an atheist doesn’t free one from “us vs. them” thinking. That impulse is hardwired into the the species, was likely hardwired into our entire genus, and indeed is clearly hardwired into our closest relatives in our biological family.

Atheists are every bit as prone to “my memes are better than your memes” tribalism as anyone else. It’s no doubt alarming to have to face the possibility that maybe they’re likewise every bit as susceptible to the easy descent from “my memes are better than your memes, nyah, nyah, nyah” to “my memes are better than yours, so die, motherfucker!”, as everyone else, but the uniformity of the ways in which defensiveness and deflection and rejection of calls for introspection have been expressed over the last couple of days is the very thing that makes introspection necessary.


As usual we avoid the important issue. Why does everyone have access to a gun? We make it all too easy for a person to act on impulse with deadly consequence. It’s not about one bad person out of millions of gun owners. It’s about 30,000-50,000 incidents every year. Mostly between people who know each other, many times family members and almost always over an conflict that has nothing to do with a person protecting their life.


But atheists have an opportunity here to speak out and help prevent future hate crimes from occurring.

Pbbbt. Not here. Always. Because bigotry and hate crimes are detrimental to the world. That isn’t a position I take because of atheism, and it is a sentiment widely shared by people who have a religious faith. Also, I don’t understand why I or any other atheist should take any special notice of the NC incident just because the shooter professed to be atheist or anti-theist.

I’m not seeing much to the article beyond “Sam Harris and Bill Maher and etc. are atheists who exhibit anti-Islamic bigotry”. Yeah, they do. See above for my position of bigotry.


Depending on what you call atheism, it goes way way farther back than that. If atheism is nothing more than a denial of the supernatural, then Buddhism is a form of atheism. There are no Gods, no after life in Buddhism, dates back 2400 years, and it is the third largest religion in the world.

What the author is describing when she claimed atheism is a new movement isn’t atheism, as you noted, it is anti-theism, and that is a new, and thankfully, growing movement.


If you want to understand the mindset of Mr. Hicks, watch the 2011 dark comedy, “God Bless America” by Bobcat Goldthwait. In it, a rational thinker is driven to murderous insanity by a shallow, inconsiderate world. It begins with the protagonist fantasizing about blowing away his loud, thoughtless neighbors – with whom he also has a parking conflict.

Hicks had another incident with these neighbors, where he pointed a gun at them when they woke up his wife with an overly-boisterous game of Risk. While their religion contributed to Hicks’ seething contempt for them (read the writings of anti-theist Christopher Hitchens on Islam), it wasn’t the sole factor. Abstract thinkers like Hicks can be driven to rage by concrete thinkers who act with disregard for others. The ongoing parking issues, the noise, and their religion are all clear signs of such a situation.

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Oddly many atheist act holier then thou.

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“They read the same stuff, share common memes, share stories of their
awakening with each other and support from each other as much as
recovering alcoholics or born again Christians or people who switch
political ideologies do.”

For most atheists, there no sharing of stories or support groups. Atheism being somewhat taboo makes me think that atheists are largely closeted. (Could you imagine a Presidential candidate who was an avowed atheist? I can’t) I guess you could say that Reddit atheists or Richard Dawkins fans make up an ad hoc community. And these ad hoc communities can be tribalistic, but how many worldwide atheists subscribe to those? A very small minority.

How many atheists are there worldwide? We don’t know. In many places, including the US, it is detrimental to admit to being one. But I think you are conflating Reddit Atheists or Twitter Atheists or Richard Dawkins Atheist activism with the larger pool of non-believers who aren’t active at all.

" the uniformity of the way defensiveness and rejection of calls for
introspection have been expressed over the last couple of days is the
very thing that makes introspection necessary. "

Ah, so if people don’t buy your premises, it only proves how right you are. How convenient!


Absolutely correct. I am a non-believer but Richard Dawkins and his ilk of evangelical atheists are just as bad as the Fundamentalist Christians they decry. They are an intolerant bunch of assholes.


First, let’s described what one means by “community.”

Here’s the URL for the Austin Athiest Community

and for Athiest Nexus: www.atheistnexus.org/

The above is the
“Coalition of nontheists and nontheist communities.”