Theism, semantics, and mental disorders

Hambydammit
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Theism, semantics, and mental disorders

Some relevant threads:

Kellym78 on the disorder of theism

Kellym78 on the disorder of theism part deux

RRS in some videos on the mind disorder of theism.  Video 1  -   Video 2 

 

In the recent storm of debate over whether theism is a mental disorder, I've noticed an interesting word game being played. Those who disapprove of our label are suggesting that theism is not a mental disorder, and that anyone who does something in the name of religion was insane to begin with.

I'd like to remind all of the atheists who object to "Theism is a Mind Disorder" to remember a particular logical fallacy -- No True Scotsman. Let's look at a hypothetical dialog.

1) Theism is a mind disorder.

2) No it isn't.

1) Look at what Joe did. He cut his hand off in the name of religion.

2) He's really crazy. That's not because of theism.

1) Ok, fine. But look at Iran. They've been cutting hands off for centuries in the name of religion.

2) Yeah, but the people who do that are really crazy. That's not because of theism.

1) Ok, fine. But look at America. Despite overwhelming evidence that homosexuality is a normal part of the animal kingdom, including animals, we see groups like the Westboro Baptist Church picketing funerals holding up signs that say, "God Hates Fags."

2) Yeah, but the people who do that are really crazy. That's not because of theism.

1) Ok, fine. There are many states in the U.S. who are actually debating whether or not schools should teach that the earth might be 6000 years old, despite the fact that we know beyond the shadow of any doubt that it is not. We're debating this because of the pressure of huge numbers of theists who believe it, despite overwhelming evidence... not just overwhelming evidence, but... holy cow, man! It's moronic. How could anyone possibly believe this?

2) Yeah, but the people who are pushing for this are just the fringe. They don't represent religion.

1) You changed the subject... are they crazy?

2) Well... um... Want to go to lunch?

 

At what point do we look at a person's behavior and say they're insane? Did you know that in the 50s, women who didn't want to have children were labeled by the medical community as insane? They were given medication and shock treatment to cure their insanity. The DSM is not a peer reviewed book, contrary to popular belief. If every entry in that book had to be peer reviewed, it would never be published. It's simply an edited version of what most professionals hold to be mental disorders.

Of course, there's a big problem with this. The medical community doesn't agree on the definition of mental disorder, even in America, not to speak of the rest of the world. There's a bigger question here, and it's what RRS is trying to address by attacking theism as a mental disorder.

Theism is not just a haphazard belief. It is a model of reality. Theism literally teaches that logic doesn't work. It says that there are some things that you must believe because they are true despite evidence to the contrary. It says things that are contradictory can both be true. It says that what we perceive as reality is only true if it lines up with doctrines that sometimes contradict reality. If someone believes and firmly holds to a view of reality that is clearly not true, despite ample evidence to the contrary, we say they are mentally disordered. Yet... people who believe theism are not mentally disordered... Only the ones who do really crazy things are.

People who are irrational to the point of breaking with reality are said to be mentally disordered. While the medical community may not agree on the exact classification, the implication is clear. People with PTSD were born with brains that dealt with reality pretty well. As a result of an external trauma, they can no longer function well in society. Even though the syndrome was caused by something external, PTSD is treated as a mental disorder.

So, let's go back to the No True Scotsman fallacy. If we say that anyone who does something crazy -- in the name of religion -- is "just crazy," we have removed the possibility that some people who do things because of the theism are crazy specifically because of the theism. We know that external forces can cause mental instability (PTSD), yet we deny the possibility that theism is just such an external force. We give theism a free pass, yet again, because it's simply too disturbing to imagine that all the theists who do not do things that seem certifiably crazy are simply not mentally disordered enough to do anything really bad.

Let me say that again for clarity. We are discounting the possibility that people who do not do crazy things because of religion are simply resistant to the more insane parts of theism. Everyone who goes into combat does not show symptoms of PTSD. Yet, we know that combat is the catalyst which causes PTSD. We don't go around saying, "People with PTSD were just crazy to begin with!" We admit that the external circumstances -- the combat stress -- caused it. Why do we give theism another free pass simply because every theist doesn't do crazy things?

 


Cpt_pineapple
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kellym78

kellym78 wrote:
Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Admittily it's at least a start, but I want it submitted to a psychological journal.

It's nice to know what you want. Despite being the founding member of the Waaahmbulance Response Squad--you still don't determine exactly to whom we submit things. K, thx.

 

Well, if you want this idea to take off, it's a good way to do it is it not? The book would help of course, but a journal publication will be a badge of honour.

 

Despite everyone's undying love and admoration for me, I don't think they're losing sleep over my disagreement. But then again you guys have to worry about the design of the banana.


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Quote: And yet in his book

Quote:

And yet in his book he gives credance to miracles in the natural sence.  Which is the definition I was using.  "To explain a natural phenomena that we yet don't understand."

However you, in your list did not give a definition to miracle either.  Which means that a person has a right to take the definition however they like.

Did you think that one of the core members of a website devoted to debunking all things supernatural would be using a natural definition of miracles?  Or, is it true that the only logical choice is that I was referring to miracles of the supernatural variety when I said I don't believe in them?

Is it dishonest or just unthinking of you to speak of Dawkins believing in miracles when you admit that you know he's talking about miracles in the natural sense?  If you meant the definition to be in the natural sense, why ask the question?  Of course we believe in very unlikely and coincidental events.  We would be daft if we didn't.  If you meant natural miracles, then the question was completely pointless.

No, bluecharm7.  I think you were trying to use a word in a very nebulous sense, hoping to make a point without getting called out on the fact that your question was essentially meaninlgess.

Of course, I could be wrong.  You might just be one of those people who speaks before thinking.

Furthermore, using "miracle" to explain a natural phenomenon we don't understand is not the way that scientists use the word.  We look at the unknown as a mystery to be solved -- not a miracle.   Miracle in the natural sense implies that something is highly improbable, as in, "It's a miracle that the horse won.  He was a 200 to 1 long shot."  We don't say that the behavior of some subatomic particles is miraculous.  We say it's mysterious.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit
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Quote: I do believe these

Quote:
I do believe these 5 are irrational beliefs.  But not delusional.

A delusion is a false fixed belief that is highly resistant to reason or confrontation with fact.  Because it is both false and there is existing reason and fact for it to resist, a delusion is also an irrational belief.  Universals can only be partially converted.  In other words, all delusions are irrational, but all that is irrational is not delusion.

 

Quote:
These are all forms of some type of racism, sexism, abuse against minorities, and homosexuality.  And have nothing to do with delusional disorders in anyway.  There are many people out there with out theism that are guilty of these atrocities.  Theist do not hold a monopoly on hate, or irrationality.

Racism, sexism, abuse and homophobia are the outward manifestations of the delusion held by certain theists.  I was asked to provide examples of such, and have done so.

You are completely correct in saying that many non-theists hold these views.  Again, you are trying to convert a universal incorrectly.

All who harbor these views are displaying antisocial behavior....

does not convert to...

All who harbor these views are theists.

Consider:

All dogs have fur.

Cats have fur.

Therefore, cats are dogs.

You are making the same mistake.

 

Quote:
I also see no correlation between being irrational and ignorant, which these three show,and delusional disorder. 

Bluecharm, these irrational beliefs, as well as the ignorance from which they stem, are the result of the delusion.  You're having a very hard time separating your categories here.  Let me try to help:

DELUSION: Faith is a virtue.  Some things are true despite being illogical.  God says it, it's true.  End of discussion.

MANIFESTATION: beliefs and behaviors that are irrational, and which resist confrontation with fact, i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, etc...

Both the delusion and the manifestations are irrational.  My list of manifestations was in no way intended to be inclusive.  None of the manifestations are claimed to be exclusive to theism, as fur is not exclusive to cats.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:
Quote:

And yet in his book he gives credance to miracles in the natural sence.  Which is the definition I was using.  "To explain a natural phenomena that we yet don't understand."

However you, in your list did not give a definition to miracle either.  Which means that a person has a right to take the definition however they like.

Did you think that one of the core members of a website devoted to debunking all things supernatural would be using a natural definition of miracles?  Or, is it true that the only logical choice is that I was referring to miracles of the supernatural variety when I said I don't believe in them?

Is it dishonest or just unthinking of you to speak of Dawkins believing in miracles when you admit that you know he's talking about miracles in the natural sense?  If you meant the definition to be in the natural sense, why ask the question?  Of course we believe in very unlikely and coincidental events.  We would be daft if we didn't.  If you meant natural miracles, then the question was completely pointless.

No, bluecharm7.  I think you were trying to use a word in a very nebulous sense, hoping to make a point without getting called out on the fact that your question was essentially meaninlgess.

Of course, I could be wrong.  You might just be one of those people who speaks before thinking.

Furthermore, using "miracle" to explain a natural phenomenon we don't understand is not the way that scientists use the word.  We look at the unknown as a mystery to be solved -- not a miracle.   Miracle in the natural sense implies that something is highly improbable, as in, "It's a miracle that the horse won.  He was a 200 to 1 long shot."  We don't say that the behavior of some subatomic particles is miraculous.  We say it's mysterious.

Ditto

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:
 

 

Quote:
I think your points are mostly correct, and bring up some good issues relating to other reasons for calling theism a mental disorder. But really, I don't think they attack the core issue of my first post - is insurance coverage really a good reason for calling theism a mental disorder?

Well, the reason I kind of avoided this question is that I have issues with the way we do medical insurance, particularly with regard to mental disorders and preventative medicine.

I'm intentionally distancing myself from the insurance part of it.  Maybe Sapient or Kelly wants to weigh in.

 Ok so I mentioned I wanted theists to be able to get insurance money, maybe I should add to that for clarity...

I don't care whether it comes from insurance, societal acceptance of ridiculing religion, the public school system, or a conglomeration of all three plus dozens of other methods, all I know is I want theists to be able to get the treatment they need.  Some might need extensive tutoring in logic, some might need to talk to a therapist once a week, some might need to be taught religious comparisons or better science in school, some might need medicine and a therapist, some may need lots of meds, some may need to be institutionalized.

 I don't care how we get them the help, I just want them to have the help.  You don't like insurance?  Fine, fuck insurance.  Just help the guy with the imaginary friend, I don't care how it's done, as long as it's legal.

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Quote: I don't care how we

Quote:
I don't care how we get them the help, I just want them to have the help.  You don't like insurance?  Fine, fuck insurance.  Just help the guy with the imaginary friend, I don't care how it's done, as long as it's legal.

I haven't agreed with anything so completely in a long time.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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K9sByte
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Hey Mel,

Hey Mel,

Here is the link I tried to send you yesterday.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/so_religion_is_harmless_huh