By Scott P. Richert, About.com GuideJuly 31, 2012
In "The Devil and James Holmes," I discussed the shootings at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, from a standpoint that I assumed would be somewhat controversial. I wanted to clear up widespread misconceptions regarding demonic possession that have made their way into popular films and novels. The worst of these mistaken ideas, as I explained, is that those who are possessed have no control whatsoever over their actions and therefore cannot be held accountable for them. To put it in shorthand, much of popular culture presents demonic possession as "The devil made him do it." But that is not the teaching of the Catholic Church.
I thought that the main opposition to my article would come from Christians who have been taken in by these popular misconceptions. I was wrong. Most Christians who commented on the piece understood perfectly well what I was saying, even though some disagreed with it intelligently and respectfully. (Only one self-identified Catholic completely misunderstood what I wrote.)
But after the article was picked up by Google News, all hell broke loose (no pun intended). A massive influx of atheists began leaving comments that were not particularly intelligent and not at all respectful. (Some, in fact, were so vile that I could not approve them for display, since they would be offensive to this site's main audience.)
And, to a man, every one of the atheist commenters got the point of my article exactly wrong. Indeed, if reading comprehension were an accurate test of intelligence, I would have to conclude that the Christian commenters on that post were, as a whole, much brighter than the atheist ones—a rather amusing turn of events, since the atheists who usually waste their time attacking my articles tend to pride themselves on being more intelligent than those of us who believe in "sky fairies."
I have a theory concerning why every atheist was incapable of understanding what I wrote, but before we get to that, here's a short version of the argument in "The Devil and James Holmes," for those who found 700 words too much to read:
Those Christians who disagreed with what I wrote had problems with the final two points, and I understand that; it is hard to break out of the grip of the popular portrayal of possession and to understand the role that free will plays.
Not a single atheist, on the other hand, managed to engage with a single point of the argument. Every one failed the most basic test of reading comprehension: At no point did I say that I thought James Holmes was possessed, and yet every atheist who commented assumed that I had done so.
This is the rest of the article .