Atheism - The Chapel Hill Murders Should Be a Wake-Up Call for Atheists By Brett Keane

Instincts are behavioural patterns that are programmed into our genes as the result of natural selection (Scientists Claim). According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an instinct is 'a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason'. Instinct, by definition, is a hard-wired behavior. It does not have to be learned. Therefore, it is passed on from generation to generation.

On Tuesday evening, Craig Stephen Hicks murdered three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The victims were a family: 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his 21-year-old wife Yusor Mohammad, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Mohammad. Hicks has since turned himself in and has been charged with three counts of first degree murder. His motivation for the attack remains unclear.

But as details have begun to emerge about Hicks’s life prior to the murders, his antipathy toward religion has become increasingly clear. On his Facebook page, Hicks, 46, declared himself a supporter of “Atheists for Equality,” expressed his admiration for Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, and condemned "radical" Christianity and Islam alike for their alleged ideological similarities.

Comparisons like those are easy to make, if you pick the right axis. For instance, America’s atheists might have more in common with American Muslims than Hicks seemed to believe. A 2014 Pew survey on American religious groups’ feelings about other religious cohorts found that Americans reserve their coldest feelings for atheists and Muslims, with atheists scoring an average of 41 degrees and Muslims an average of 40 on Pew’s feelings thermometer. A 2012 Gallup poll, meanwhile, found that Americans would prefer almost anyone for president to an atheist or a Muslim. When it came to views on other religions, the Pew survey showed that American atheists feel warmest toward religions with the least political presence in the United States, like Hinduism and Buddhism, and feel coldest toward Evangelical Christianity, Mormonism, and Islam— three faiths that regularly make the nightly news.