Virtual Voices

Self-murder in Sin City

Culture

Unfortunately, Christmas is not only a season of celebration, but also a season of self-murder. This lends extra relevance to a new study that attempts to explain why people who live in Las Vegas-along with those who visit the city-are far more likely to commit suicide than other Americans. We can imagine several hypotheses scientists might conjure, and we can be certain that none of these theories will have anything to do with the soul. We live in a material age, when all things are either reduced to the collision of molecules, or elevated to the sweep of social forces. Therefore, a man might put the barrel of a gun in his mouth because he is lacking a dram of neurochemical, or because socioeconomic pressures have caused his isolation, but he certainly won't do it because he is shot through with sin, and sick unto death at the prospect of living one more second in a Godless world.

According to one researcher, it's because Las Vegas is a growing city. Growth breaks down community bonds, he said, leading to social isolation and consequently, more suicide. The problem with this hypothesis, of course, is that plenty of faster-growing cities have lower suicide rates. As for why visitors murder themselves at a higher rate, it's selection bias-suicides come to Las Vegas, live it up, and then kill themselves far from home, out of consideration for their families. This from a Las Vegas coroner, who presumably doubles as a psychic, to glean so much personal history from a corpse.

There certainly are plausible social, economic, and psychological reasons why people drawn to Las Vegas are more likely to kill themselves, and why getting out of that place carries with it a reduced risk. But there is a plausible spiritual reason, as well, and the Dogma of Modern Science cannot allow for it. Modernists don't believe in a soul, in spiritual forces, and certainly not in demons. They don't believe in these things because they have never seen them. This seeing-to-believe-it rule is not a hard and fast one, of course, because the soul-deniers stand quite ready to believe in any number of other things they've not seen, from aliens to quarks to Platonic Forms.

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What then are we to make of Las Vegas? None of us can see into the spiritual realm, but if we believe the whole of Christian Dogma, then we believe that darkness can gather even amidst neon lights. We believe further that the prayers and physical resistance of God's people repel this darkness. If you have been to Las Vegas, you can likely attest to the fact that prayer and physical resistance are less easily found than slot machines and hookers.

We live in a spirit-less age, when science, rather than holding its proper place secondary to faith, has supplanted faith. Thus the faithless faithful do turn in vain to molecules and megatrends to explain what for centuries has been commonly enough understand-that a battle rages on this earth between light and darkness, and that souls of men are the battleground.

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