July 20, 2012 | David F. Coppedge

Can Science Explain Mass Murder?

As the carnage of the latest mass murder is being assessed, TV commentators look predictably to psychologists for answers.

Psychology has a questionable past as a science.  Nearly every fad theory since its inception has been overturned.  Even today, the field is riddled with scandal (11/05/2011), and their methods are questionable (7/05/2012).  Psychiatry is supposed to be a step better, since one has to earn an M.D. to be a psychiatrist.  But recently, their own “Bible” of diagnosis, the DSM-V, has been criticized as politically incorrect mumbo-jumbo that is so wrong it’s not even wrong (5/18/2012).

Yet when tragedy happens, and people search for answers as to what would motivate a person to commit mass murder, the experts that TV anchors call on are not Bible scholars, pastors or theologians.  It’s psychologists and psychiatrists with their presumed appeal to offer “scientific” answers.

To date, there is not enough information about James Holmes’ background for anyone except perhaps his parents to have an informed opinion about what made him shoot an assault rifle into a crowded theater this morning.  All that is known is that this PhD candidate in neuroscience was not your typical mass murderer.  He was smart, and his act had to be premeditated.  It was not a sudden snap, but a decision that had a history.  The details will surely be forthcoming as the investigation proceeds.  One fair assumption is that his studies in neuroscience at UC Riverside and University of Colorado were saturated with Darwinism and materialism, with their inherent meaninglessness and lack of personal responsibility.

What doesn’t help at all is for fake experts in psychology (“soul science”—a contradiction in terms) to lend their useless opinions and empty jargon to fill up air time.  It wasn’t hard to find them, as usual, tossing out their meaningless words, like psychosis, neurosis, depressive disorder, as if that represents understanding.  (You can play psychologist yourself.  Just watch some person do something you don’t understand, and give it a label: “impulsive reverse toilet paper roll placement disorder.” ) Even the more commonly-used disorders cannot be diagnosed with any certainty; individual psychiatrists often come up with a different diagnosis for the same patient.  This is indicative of quackery.  Meanwhile, experts on the Bible were hard to find in the discussion.

The Bible has the Operations Manual from the Manufacturer.  That should be the beginning point of wisdom for any human who wishes to qualify as an expert.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding,” Solomon said (Proverbs 9:10).  This implies that secular psychologists and psychiatrists are not even at the beginning; in fact, they are behind the beginning, marching off in the wrong direction—their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 1).  Any intersection of their teachings with reality happens either by chance (the broken clock that is right twice a day), or from common sense observation, such as “students learn better when they concentrate” or “experiencing awe makes you feel better” (seriously; see Live Science).  All their false teachings about motives of the soul stand in opposition to the Manual from the only One in the universe who knows what makes us tick.

The brain is a physical organ that can develop physical problems.  These physical problems can affect behavior.  The diagnosis is not “mental illness” but physical illness causing behavioral symptoms.  To call it “mental illness” when someone with no physical brain problems (and in fact a good record of intelligence and achievement) goes off on a shooting rampage completely overlooks the real root of the problem: sin.  Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all else, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).  Solomon warned his son to “Keep watch over your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  Real moral choices in life can lead to horrendous evils if unchecked, even if they simmer undetected below the surface for years.

As we watch the investigation into the Holmes case, look for evidence of either a physical problem or a sin problem.  Initial hints show him obsessed with hard rock music and violent movies.  Don’t be snookered into buying the snake oil of falsely-so-called scientists peddling “Joker Resemblance Syndrome” or “Movie-Reality Dualism Incompatibility Disorder” or whatever else they will try to label it.  The word is sin.  Sin includes hate, envy, jealousy, lying, and lack of self-control – all sins that Holmes could have nurtured till they festered, leading to that heinous act of mass murder.  It is not compassionate to excuse his sin as some kind of psychological syndrome.   We are all personally responsible for our actions.  Each one of us will have to give an account to our Maker.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).


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