This gentleman is Antonie Dixon.
Last week, jurors in the Auckland High Court were told he heard the voice of God, before a violent spree that left a man dead and two women with horrific injuries.
His weapon of choice to inflict those injuries: a samurai sword.
"I went outside and spoke to God and he said they were Judas's, to behead them, and to turn the sword and kill myself."
Dixon is charged with seriously injuring Renee Gunbie and Simone Butler and murdering James Te Aute in January 2003. Dixon said he shot Mr Te Aute because he could see horns coming out of his head.
Dixon also testified he could telepathically communicate with his mother, and that he was told by her that he had inherited a demon from his father.
What the court must decide is whether Dixon was truly ‘around the bend’ when he went on his rampage or simply feigning mental illness to get off the rap.
The ‘Devil made me do it’ defence is a fairly prevalent occurrence.
David Berkowitz, the serial killer known as ‘The Son of Sam’, claimed demons drove him from his family home and then the neighbours pet Labrador was possessed, and the dog commanded him to go on his killing spree.
But let’s face it - it’s not just so called ‘nutters’ say they can ‘hear’ God, Demons, Angels etc.
Are there simply degrees of ‘religious psychosis’ that modern psychiatry has yet to get a grip of?
Let me introduce my theory:
- At one end of the spectrum we have individuals who are not susceptible to religious indoctrination. They form the backbone of the skeptic,atheistic communities.
- In the middle some where, is your standard Sunday Church goer who likes to ‘believe’ in nice things, and accepts the existence an invisible god father. They engage in the practice as a harmless diversion to the real world. They would either label Dixon 'mad' or claim 'God would never instruct anyone to do this'.
- Then at the other end of the scale we have the Antonie Dixon’s, David Berkowitz’s of the world who claim profusely, to hear the literal voice of entities, and act on these. These are also the people that crash planes into buildings.
Worryingly we have people in the corridors of power in fall into this last category.
Namely, the most powerful man on the planet.
“God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them”
“George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq. And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me"
Believing in a deity, believing that deity controls your actions etc, is therefore a matter of degrees.
Billions of humans believe invisible deities guide their lives, and are not thrown into straight jackets.
By in large we treat those grasped by religiosity in the same way we treat a child with an invisible friend.
It’s only when that ‘friend’ instructs you to slice an arm off using a samurai sword, your sanity is questioned.
Speaking to God is fine, but receiving instructions from an Alien out the back of Proxima Centauri would be enough to get you certified.
Are atheists by definition, the only sane ones on the planet?