FLORENCE, South Carolina (AP) — A teen accused of plotting to blow up his high school told police that he wanted to die, go to heaven and kill Jesus, federal authorities said Tuesday.
Prosecutors argued in a federal courtroom that the statements are an indication that 18-year-old Ryan Schallenberger needs a psychological evaluation.
The straight-A Chesterfield High School senior was arrested April 19 and faces several state and federal charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. That charge carries a possible life sentence if he is convicted.
“His conduct is bizarre,” prosecutor Buddy Bethea told Judge Thomas Rogers III, who did not immediately issue a ruling. “I think it screams out in his conduct that he be evaluated.”
Defense attorney Bill Nettles said the request was premature, and that Schallenberger was competent to help in his defense.
Prosecutors want Schallenberger, currently at Chesterfield County jail, moved to a federal facility because they think he may try to commit suicide. His journal writings have become increasingly violent over the past year, prosecutor Rose Mary Parham said.
An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified that the teen told a sheriff he wanted to die after his arrest.
“He said death was better than life,” Craig Townsend said. “He told the sheriff he wanted to die and go to heaven and once he got there, he wanted to kill Jesus.”
Prosecutors also played a 911 tape of the teen’s mother calling police after he smashed his head into a wall two days before his arrest. On the tape, she says her son threatened to shoot police if they came.
“He’s not going to do it,” Laurie Sittler told the operator. “He’s just got a bad temper.”
The teen left but his mother was scared he would return, she said in the call. “He’s planning to go to college and everything, but I don’t know what to do,” she said.
JUNCTION CITY, Kansas (AP) — Like hundreds of young men joining the Army in recent years, Jeremy Hall professes a desire to serve his country while it fights terrorism.
But the short and soft-spoken specialist is at the center of a legal controversy. He has filed a lawsuit alleging that he’s been harassed and his constitutional rights have been violated because he doesn’t believe in God. The suit names Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
“I’m not in it for cash,” Hall said. “I want no one else to go what I went through.”
Known as “the atheist guy,” Hall has been called immoral, a devil worshipper and — just as severe to some soldiers — gay, none of which, he says, is true. Hall even drove fellow soldiers to church in Iraq and paused while they prayed before meals.
“I see a name and rank and United States flag on their shoulder. That’s what I believe everyone else should see,” he said.
Hall, 23, was raised in a Protestant family in North Carolina and dropped out of school. It wasn’t until he joined the Army that he began questioning religion, eventually deciding that he couldn’t follow any faith.
But he feared how that would look to other soldiers.
“I was ashamed to say that I was an atheist,” Hall said.
It eventually came out in Iraq in 2007, when he was in a firefight. Hall was a gunner on a Humvee, which took several bullets in its protective shield. Afterward, his commander asked whether he believed in God, Hall said.
“I said, ‘No, but I believe in Plexiglas,’ ” Hall said. “I’ve never believed I was going to a happy place. You get one life. When I die, I’m worm food.”
The issue came to a head when, according to Hall, a superior officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, threatened to bring charges against him for trying to hold a meeting of atheists in Iraq. Welborn has denied Hall’s allegations.
Religion a figment of human imagination
Humans alone practice religion because they’re the only creatures to have evolved imagination.
That’s the argument of anthropologist Maurice Bloch of the London School of Economics. Bloch challenges the popular notion that
religion evolved and spreadbecause it promoted social bonding, as has been argued by some anthropologists.
Instead, he argues that first, we had to evolve the necessary brain architecture to imagine things and beings that don’t physically exist, and the possibility that people somehow
live on after they’ve died.
Once we’d done that, we had access to a form of social interaction unavailable to any other creatures on the planet. Uniquely, humans could use what Bloch calls the “transcendental social” to unify with groups, such as nations and clans, or even with imaginary groups such as the dead. The transcendental social also allows humans to follow the idealised codes of conduct associated with religion.
“What the transcendental social requires is the ability to live very largely in the imagination,” Bloch writes.
“One can be a member of a transcendental group, or a nation, even though one never comes in contact with the other members of it,” says Bloch. Moreover, the composition of such groups, “whether they are clans or nations, may equally include the living and the dead.”
Modern-day religions still embrace this idea of communities bound with the living and the dead, such as the Christian notion of followers being “one body with Christ”, or the Islamic “Ummah” uniting Muslims.
Stuck in the here and now
No animals, not even our nearest relatives the chimpanzees, can do this, argues Bloch. Instead, he says, they’re restricted to the mundane and Machiavellian social interactions of everyday life, of sparring every day with contemporaries for status and resources.
And the reason is that they can’t imagine beyond this immediate social circle, or backwards and forwards in time, in the same way that humans can.
Bloch believes our ancestors developed the necessary neural architecture to imagine before or around 40-50,000 years ago, at a time called the Upper Palaeological Revolution, the final sub-division of the Stone Age.
At around the same time, tools that had been monotonously primitive since the earliest examples appeared 100,000 years earlier suddenly exploded in sophistication, art began appearing on cave walls, and burials began to include artefacts, suggesting belief in an afterlife, and by implication the “transcendental social”.
Once humans had crossed this divide, there was no going back.
“The transcendental network can, with no problem, include the dead, ancestors and gods, as well as living role holders and members of essentialised groups,” writes Bloch. “Ancestors and gods are compatible with living elders or members of nations because all are equally mysterious invisible, in other words transcendental.”
But Bloch argues that religion is only one manifestation of this unique ability to form bonds with non-existent or distant people or value-systems.
“Religious-like phenomena in general are an inseparable part of a key adaptation unique to modern humans, and this is the capacity to imagine other worlds, an adaptation that I argue is the very foundation of the sociality of modern human society.”
“Once we realise this omnipresence of the imaginary in the everyday, nothing special is left to explain concerning religion,” he says.
Chris Frith of University College London, a co-organiser of a “Sapient Mind” meeting in Cambridge last September, thinks Bloch is right, but that “theory of mind” â€“ the ability to recognise that other people or creatures exist, and think for themselves â€“ might be as important as evolution of imagination.
“As soon as you have theory of mind, you have the possibility of deceiving others, or being deceived,” he says. This, in turn, generates a sense of fairness and unfairness, which could lead to moral codes and the possibility of an unseen “enforcer” – God â€“ who can see and punish all wrong-doers.
“Once you have these additions of the imagination, maybe theories of God are inevitable,” he says.
This is outrageous!
How can alternative theories to evolution be taught in schools such as Intelligent Design(tm) but not the others?
1 Kings 7:23 (New American Standard Bible)
Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference.
Now, if we do our biblical calculations using, C = r * 2 * Pi, in this case, C = 30, r * 2 = 10, which leaves only pi in question, which in this case, is clearly 30 / 10, better known as 3.
Yes, that’s right, the Bible says Pi = 3. Without a doubt, we should scrap any theory that says Pi is anything more or less than exactly 3. For heaven’s sake, the “scientists” defintion of Pi isn’t even rational! They can’t even properly define the number! I like absolute answers, as the one’s provided in the bible, that way I know the answer and don’t have to keep memorizing new numbers, it’s simply easier this way!
Droning funnyman Ben Stein monkeys around with evolution with the new documentary, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” a cynical attempt to sucker Christian conservatives into thinking they’re losing the “intelligent design” debate because of academic “prejudice.”
“Expelled” is a full-on, amply budgeted Michael Moore-styled mockery of evolution, a film that dresses creationist crackpottery in an “intelligent design” leisure suit and tries to make the fact that it’s not given credence in schools a matter of “academic freedom.”
Using loaded language and loaded imagery, Stein and Co. (Nathan Frankowski is the credited director) equate evolution with atheism, lay responsibility for the Holocaust at the feet of Charles Darwin, interview and creatively edit biologists and others (scientists “cast” for their eccentric appearance) to make them look foolish for insisting that science, not religion, can explain creation.
Stein and friends use animation (shades of “Bowling for Columbine”), amusing chunks of B-movies and even “The Wizard of Oz” and classic propaganda techniques to undercut 150 years of peer-tested research. Their goal? Create just a sliver of doubt about evolution. It’s a classic Big Tobacco/”Inconvenient Truth” denial tactic.
Â The reason evil exists in the world is because god(s) gave us free will, right? Doesn’t look that way.
You’re going to press that button, right? You know you’re going to press it and then . . . you make a conscious decision and you press it, right?
Maybe not, say German researchers in a new study published in the April 13 online edition of Nature Neuroscience.
Using sophisticated brain imaging techniques, the researchers found that they can predict people’s simple decisions up to 10 seconds before they’re conscious of making such a choice.
“It seems that your brain starts to trigger your decision before you make up your mind,” said the study’s lead author, John-Dylan Haynes of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany. “We can’t rule out free will, but I think it’s very implausible. The question is, can we still decide against the decision our brain has made?”
The study is the latest salvo in a longstanding scientific and philosophical debate over whether what we perceive as “free will” decisions are actually made before we’re aware that we’re making them.
A groundbreaking study, conducted in the 1980s by the recently deceased neurophysiologist Benjamin Libet, suggested that a region of the brain that prepares muscles to move showed activity a few hundred milliseconds before subjects made a conscious decision to press a button.
Yes, we know how demented and idiotic the westboro baptist church is, but it’s always fun to see the retarded crap phelps has to say. Phelps, being a pedophile, feels it necessary to shift attention away onto the lifestyles of others, such as the late Heath Ledger and his family.
-Thanks to Clint for this one.
Nah, there’s nothing wrong with religion, this sorta stuff is perfectly acceptable. Yup.
SAN ANGELO, Texas â€” Teenage girls, often younger than 16, were required to have sex in the soaring white temple after they were married in sect-recognized unions at a polygamist compound in West Texas, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.
The temple “contains an area where there is a bed where males over the age of 17 engage in sexual activity with female children under the age of 17,” said an affidavit quoting a confidential informant who left the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Agents found a bed in the temple with disturbed linens and what appeared to be a female hair, said the affadavit signed by Texas Ranger Leslie Brooks Long. The Rangers are the state’s investigative law enforcement arm.
The temple also contained multiple locked safes, vaults and desk drawers that authorities sought access to as they searched for records showing alleged marriages of underage girls to older men and births among the teens. The affidavit unsealed Wednesday mentions a 16-year-old girl who has four children.
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers completed a weeklong search of the 1,700-acre grounds on Wednesday, said spokeswoman Tela Mange.
Lawyers for the sect had wanted to cut off the wide-ranging search as it dragged on but agreed in court Wednesday to the appointment of a special master who will vet what is expected to be hundreds of boxes of records, computers and even family Bibles for records that should not become evidence for legal or religious reasons.
Did you hear about the state legislator who last week blasted a Lutheran minister during a committee hearing for spewing dangerous religious superstitions, and then attempted to order the minister out of the witness chair on the grounds that his Christian beliefs are “destroying what this state was built upon”?
Of course you didn’t, because it didn’t happen and would never happen. Not to a Christian, not to a Jew, not to a Muslim or to anyone who subscribes to any faith.
Such an attack would rightly be considered scandalously out of bounds in contemporary society.
But you probably also didn’t hear about what actually did happen:
Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) interrupted atheist activist Rob Sherman during his testimony Wednesday afternoon before the House State Government Administration Committee in Springfield and told him, “What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous . . . it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!
“This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God,” Davis said. “Get out of that seat . . . You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.”
Apparently it’s still open season on some views of God.
Outside of Change of Subject, where I posted a transcript and the audio, Davis’ repellent, un-American outburst received no attention whatsoever.