The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a woman claims that God told her to toss her kids into the San Francisco Bay:
Lashaun Harris is charged with three counts of murder, but attorney Teresa Caffese told the court that Harris, 23, was mentally ill on Oct. 19 when she threw the boys into the water at Pier 7. ... Relatives have said Harris suffered from schizophrenia for at least two years, had been hospitalized twice and had recently stopped taking medication that eased the disorder. [...]
“I asked, ‘Where are the babies?’ “ Johnson said. When Harris didn’t respond, he said, he asked again: “Where did you put the babies?” Johnson said Harris replied, “They’re OK, they’re with their father.” ... In her opening statement, Caffese indicated that Harris was referring to God as “Father” when she said her children were with their father, not the kids’ biological father. ... She did indicate that she understood her rights, and she indicated that she’d heard voices in her head, “telling me to kill my kids.”
This is by far not the first time I’ve written about someone claiming to have received instructions from God to kill. Obviously a person doesn’t have to believe in any gods in order to kill, but it should be just as obvious that not just believing in a god, but also believing that one might receive instructions from god, can make killing a lot easier. How many sincere believers would sincerely reject or ignore such orders if they thought they received them?
People involved with this case seem to regard it as self-evident that Lashaun Harris is mentally ill — and she probably is, but why do they believe it? Most of the people involved with this case are probably theists — and probably Christians as well, if we rely solely on statistics. Why don’t they take seriously the possibility that she is telling the truth: that there really does exist a god and, moreover, that this god really did give her instructions to kill her children? If a person believes in God, upon what basis can this dismiss this possibility?
Even more interesting: upon what basis can they investigate the claim to determine whether it is true or not? What would make it true? What would make it false?
The Kansas City Star reports on a couple who used a Bible to beat their kids, among other forms of “discipline”:
Authorities allege that Raymond Fairchild, 49, and Deborah Fairchild, 50, punished the foster children for numerous perceived transgressions such as eating too slowly, forgetting to bring the dog in, washing the dishes too slowly and not taking notes in church.
Clay County Prosecutor Dan White is quoted as saying “A person who would hit a child with a Bible is someone who should have spent more time reading it,” but I wonder when the last time was that he actually read it — there's a lot in there about physically disciplining people. Children, of course, must be disciplined and human relations are modeled after the relationship between God and Israel — and when Israel gets out of line, God employs pretty violent punishment.
Theism, God, and Belief in God: