Today at work a co-worker of mine and I were having lunch at a nearby establishment. He is what you would call a C&E Christian in that he basically attends church only for the Christmas and Easter services, though he definitely says he believes in God.
He said that he just recently caught an episode of a crime/forensic show that featured a man from New Jersey named John List who was also known locally as the "Bogeyman of Westfield." List became infamous for murdering his entire family consisting of his wife, three children and his mother on November 9, 1971. See below link for more data.
On the TV show the narrator commented there were a few reasons why he did it. He was unhappy with the way his life was heading, he was broke and recently unemployed, but what caught my coworkers attention was the reason he killed his children.
As a "devout" believer he reasoned that his children were still under the age of accountability and if he killed them they would be guaranteed a place in heaven. However if they continued gravitating toward the unholy lifestyle he thought they were heading to, then a trip to hell was a very likely possibility.
I reminded him that this was also the reasoning used by a deranged Andrea Yates when she drowned her five children in Texas on June 21, 2000. He said "oh yeah" and added her to his flurry of condemnations. He said he could not understand how anyone could get that screwed up in their thinking.
I agreed with him that it was a very evil thing they had done to their kids and as an unbeliever I faulted religion as the principal reason in those cases.
He said religion was not at fault here as far as he could surmise so I asked him this question. "Do you think the kids are in heaven?"
"Of course they are" he replied and then added "It wasn't the kids fault the parents were fucked up in the head!"
The conversation went on as follows.
Myself: "I agree that's it jacked up, but didn't they get the result they were shooting for?" (no pun intended)
Coworker: "What do you mean?"
Myself: "The kids received a guaranteed entrance into eternal life in heaven."
Coworker: "Yeah they did, but they should not have killed them to get that guarantee."
Myself: "I agree wholeheartedly. But if you accept the common belief that young ones who die before the age of accountability, whatever that is, then maybe the parents did them a favor."
Coworker: "That's fucked up thinking!"
Myself: "Again I agree, but look at it from their standpoint. They 'loved' their kids so much that they did not want to entertain the possibility that they could end up in the lake of fire for eternity so they played the 'get into heaven free' card by killing them before they got involved in anything that would keep them from attaining that prize."
Coworker: "I see what you are saying but that is totally fucked up! The poor kids didn't get a chance to enjoy like on earth."
Myself: "True, but according to them all of them are living forever in paradise now, whereas that may not have been the case if they had been allowed to make their own decisions as adults."
Coworker: "I don't know what to say to that. I understand your point but it is still so damned wrong. What is also messed up is he said the reason he didn't kill himself is because suicide would have barred him from heaven, but he could get forgiveness for killing his family."
Myself: "But that is what the majority of Christians believe. What they do not understand is they are essentially saying that they can alter "Gods plan" so that it suits themselves. I know you would not have ever considered doing such a hideous deed, but you can somewhat understand that convoluted thinking can't you?"
Coworker: "I suppose a little bit but I still find it gut-wrenching and fucked up to the max!"
Myself: "So do I, but there are several situations like that regarding religious beliefs where if you really think it all the way through to its conclusion, the results are horrifying."
Coworker: "Dammit Ray I am going to have to give this some deep thought and maybe ask my cousin who is a pastor of a church."
Myself: "I would be very interested in his viewpoint on this matter."
Coworker: "I can't parse this out at the moment so that it makes sense. On one hand you love your kids more than anything but if you saw one headed on the highway to hell, I could see a bit how a fucked up person could come to the conclusion that killing them now would be better for them in the long run."
Myself: "So what is worse? Killing them now so they can live forever or let them live out their life and let them spin the wheel of life knowing they may win an all expensed paid trip to hell where they will be tormented forever and forever."
Coworker: "Let's drop the subject for now as it is really jacking with my mind."
Myself: "Sure. Are your ready for football season now?"
I later sent him a link to Dogma Debate Radio with David Smalley and asked him to check out a few of the podcasts and let me know what he thinks.