A New York man is linking the suicide of his 22-year-old son, a military veteran who had bright prospects in college, to the anti-Christian book "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins after a college professor challenged the son to read it.
"Three people told us he had taken a biology class and was doing well in it, but other students and the professor were really challenging my son, his faith. They didn't like him as a Republican, as a Christian, and as a conservative who believed in intelligent design," the grief-stricken father, Keith Kilgore, told WND about his son, Jesse.
A few things about this story. First of all, no persuasive case has been made that his son killed himself because he read "The God Delusion." His dad says he did, sure, but as I once pointed out in a post titled "Anatomy of a propaganda attack," the fact of these stories tend to be extremely malleable and gradually change as more information is discovered. As far as I can tell, there hasn't even been a suicide note yet, and there are all kinds of things that could have contributed to the suicide, starting with the volatile dad.
Which is my other point -- second of all, there are a lot of ways one can "frame" this story, even if the stated motivation is true. NATURALLY the minister dad and the evangelical leaning WND want to make it sound like the horrible atheist book killed the good Christian son by killing his faith. On the other hand, I've been an atheist all my life and haven't killed myself. My son hasn't killed himself. Why not, instead, say that being raised in a fundamentalist household makes you especially prone to suicide when you are exposed to competing points of view?
I'm not trying to dogpile on the dad, who is obviously going through a great deal of pain and loss right now. I do, however, take exception to the dad using his legitimate pain as an excuse to lash out against a minority target that he probably presumes will not fight back. That crosses the line.
I don't know all the facts about the case at this point, so I can't say whether reading "The God Delusion" did or did not push Jesse Kilgore over the edge and drive him to suicide. I think the responsible thing would be to wait a bit and see if any more information comes out (so I'll probably put it on Google Alert). Regardless, the dad is acting like an opportunistic and bigoted ass.
Keith Kilgore weighed in on the Digg page about the story. Posting as chk555, Kilgore takes the opportunity to recite his extremely confused take on the book ("Also, Richard Dawkins admitted on DVD that he believes in intelligent design to Ben Stein in the movie Expelled. Instead of crediting the Creator, he credits 'space aliens.'" Uh?) The guy is clearly using his son's death to further a crusade that he had already been after all along. I'm sorry for his loss, but... seriously.