Still Don't Think Theism is a Mind Disorder...Part Deux
Since there have been so many things that I wanted to address in the comments, plus the fact that it got long as hell, I decided to post it here. Enjoy.
No atheism here.
Submitted by Fenriz on January 13, 2008 - 2:37pm.
Religion is different from illegal drugs because it is societally protected. Even if religion is destructive, it won't carry the same stigma as drugs because too many people support it. Your analogy is more effective with tobacco and alcohol, which are both traditionally accepted features of our culture despite the harms they can inflict. Because they are so ingrained in our culture, we won't get rid of them regardless the problems to which they contribute (though tobacco could be teetering on the brink of extinction).
I agree that it is considered taboo to critique religion too harshly, but is that respect deserved? Would we not be better off as a society if events such as these didn't happen? Some people will find other reasons to engage in destructive behaviors, but why not eliminate as many potential catalysts as possible?
Personally, I find the analogy with drugs, alcohol and nicotine included, to be particularly appropriate as analogous to religion. People often become just as addicted to religion as they would to any drug, it appears that susceptible people harm themselves or others as a result of their addiction, and the most frequently used excuse for not criticizing religion is that it makes people feel good. Well, so does heroin.
Anyway, that was elucidating an analogy I don't agree with it at all. Pinning acts of the mentally deficient on their influences is spurious logic. It's the same as hysterical mothers blaming teen violence on D&D, then on movies, and now on video games, because a handful of mentally deficient kids are influenced by these things and commit acts of violence. And if you are sympathetic to that pile of crap about the link between violent media and violent kids, then how about taking the analogy to it's extreme with disgusting ideas like homosexuality spreads AIDS, or blacks cause crime. The demographic overlaps of homosexuality, race, and religion with AIDS, crime, and violence are coincidences of society, not causes and effects.
I disagree entirely. Have you ever heard of something called the Jerusalem Syndrome? It's a relatively rare occurrence wherein people, usually males, visit Jerusalem, an suddenly imagine that they are Jesus. It is believed that David Koresh suffered from this before instigating the Waco incident. If the seed of religion was not already planted in their minds, they may very well fall prey to some other delusion, but that in no way excuses religion.
Furthermore, I did qualify my statement in the original post by saying that these delusions seemed to manifest themselves in vulnerable people, but again, if the bible didn't have a specific command to cut off your right hand if it offends you on the premise of it being better to enter heaven maimed than go to hell (an implicit threat of eternal punishment), this man likely would not have felt compelled to cut his right hand off with a circular saw.
Finally, when dealing with statistics, particularly in the field of psychology, there is practically never a case of clear causation. It's always a matter of correlation, and a positive correlation does not have to be excessively high to be considered statistically significant. I feel that the case for religion having detrimental effects on people's mental health can be made with certainty that there is a positive correlation between excessive religiosity and delusions resulting in violence to oneself or others.
The majority of the world has always been and still is religious, and such cultural beliefs will always inform and color one's behavior. But to demonstrate that acts of religious people are because of their religion you must provide evidence that such acts would not have occurred without religion. Would 9/11 have happened without Islam? Quite possibly. It just would have been dressed up in political garb, Osama a political revolutionary fighting off political, social, and economic oppression by the West (which is what really motivates the jihad anyway). Is the world less war-like after throwing off the yolk of medieval religion that dominated the Crusades? Hell no. Two world wars, the most devastating conflicts the planet has ever seen, were completely secular.
This is absolute conjecture that would not be supported by evidence. The vast majority of conflict in the world has some religiously inspired motivation. 9/11 is no different. Did the fact that all of the hijackers were Muslim escape you? The glorification of death in jihad and subsequent eternal pleasures along with the fact that we refuse to adhere to their asceticism and dogma is the primary reason why they have characterized the West as "evil". I'm sure that there are economic motives as well, but considering the support that we had previously given Al Qaeda and the fact that our dependence on oil has only served to fatten the pockets of the Bin Laden family and much of the Middle Eastern oil magnates doesn't lend much credence to that theory. The only country with a legitimate beef against the US economic policy in the Middle East was Iraq, but this is a subject I won't delve into here. It will suffice to say that Saddaam Hussein and Al Qaeda were not friendly, much less in cohoots.
The institutions of religion are bad, not because they are religious, but because they are corrupt and controlling. Protecting criminals in their organization? Stealing from their members? Denouncing opposed sects? This has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the organization. Republicans and Democrats do the same things, and in less stable times Whigs and Torries killed each other over their institutional rivalries. The problems most atheists see and attack are not problems with theism, they are problems with religious institutions. The fallacy of these atheist areguments is that no attack on the corrupt practices of religious institutions touches theism itself. A Republican who defies the tenets of his party and supports socialism does nothing to denigrate Republicanism, he's just a poor Republican. A priest who defies the tenets of Catholicism and molests children does not denigrate Catholicism, he's just a crappy Catholic (and human). And when the Church protects the preist, it still does not impugn the ideas of Catholicism, just exposes the corruption of the organization.
If such activities are inherent to the very concept of organized religion, and thereby the vast majority of theists in the world, then the demarcation between theism and religion is negligible. Not to mention that it is one's belief in a god that gets them into the organization in the first place.
Religion is a tool used by powerful people to exploit the weak, just one of many tools of exploitation like corrupt governments and corporations and other organizations around the world. Like those other corrupt institutions, we should attack them. But only the institutions are susceptible to attacks about causes and effects and real world implications, and attacking the corrupt religious cults is merely selective anarchism, decrying institutional organization itself, rather than atheism.
I don't see how atheism has anything at all to do with the support or lack thereof for corrupt institutions. I can attack or not attack hegemony within the church, government, or corporate world and be or not be an atheist. These are two completely unrelated topics.
True atheism assaults the fundamental philosophy of belief in unseen powers, eroding the foundation upon which all the evils and corruption of worldly religious orgnizations stand. I don't see any real atheistic philosophy going on here.
Please explain what exactly "true atheism" is. Atheism does not necessitate "assaults [on] the fundamental philosophy of belief in unseen powers." Many atheists don't care at all about the pervasiveness of religion and its social implications. I was writing from my vantage point as an atheist about what I feel to be the dangers of religion. It wasn't meant to be a treatise on "atheistic philosophy", whatever that is.
Submitted by nen on January 13, 2008 - 3:25pm.
Actually, religion in of itself *can't* be a mental disorder, if some books are to be believed - the most pertinent is this one:
If you have a quick read about this book, you will see that the author posits that religion originates from a specific part of the brain. I'm not sure if this is a proven theory, but from the evidence I've read about, it seems promising.
"Religion" is not a mental disorder-it's the effects of religion on people's minds that may lead to or otherwise push the susceptible "over the edge", so to speak. I am very familiar with the neurology of religion (I am a neuropsychology major) and hope to do research in that field. Andrew Newberg, author of "Why God Won't Go Away", is a professor at Penn, which I where I plan to finish my degree and I hope to have the opportunity to work with him at some point.
Therefore, if religion is hard-wired into an average person's brain, how can it be considered a mental disorder? Rather, *atheism* might be considered a mental disorder from this perspective, as, despite atheists' superior rationality, it is not how our brains seem to have evolved to work.
The fact that a certain part of the brain is stimulated during so-called "religious experiences" does not demonstrate anything other than the fact that a certain experience is associated with increased or decreased activity in areas of the brain, just like any other experience that we have. Using the term "hard-wired" muddies the waters by giving this predisposition an aura of seemingly scientific respectability. It would be a non sequitor to assume that this implies that it is supposed to operate in that fashion universally or that it was a necessary facet of the evolutionary process. The fact that the majority of people throughout history have believed in god would predispose their descendants to also have the same susceptibility to the type of temporal lobe stimulation that causes these experiences, and therefore cannot prove anything other than how the brain operates in certain circumstances.
I do believe that religion was necessary in our evolutionary history to facilitate social cohesion and provide answers to the unanswerable questions and solace regarding the frightening reality of life and impending death. I feel that we should do as Daniel Dennett suggests in Breaking the Spell and question whether or not it is still beneficial to society.
Even if religion is not hard-coded in the brain, how do you define a mental disorder? The majority of the world's population are religious in some way or another, and shouldn't the majority be used as a comparison for what is "normal"? You're making the mistake that deviations from pure rationality constitute mental illness, when it is clear that the human mind did not evolve as a purely rational machine.
Again, you're making the naturalistic fallacy be presupposing that is equals ought. From a sociological perspective, the norm would be theistic belief because norms are always culturally defined. Just because it is the current norm doesn't mean that it should remain that way. I also never implied that any deviation from "pure rationality" is a mental illness. Anybody see a strawman?
Of course, if you're willing to call *universal* emotions like love and jealousy mental disorders (which are also irrational, hardwired in our brains, and make us do stupid things like kill people) then yes, I suppose you could classify religion as a mental disorder.
There are no universal emotions. Every individual's brain operates differently and everybody perceives these things differently. Some people are more capable of modulating their emotions than others, for example. Contrary to what you stated here, emotions are not inherently "irrational". Rather, it is experience with certain individuals, activities, and events that cause the body to release certain chemicals that elicit those reactions from the brain. These feelings are reinforced with repeated exposure, thus strengthening the neuronal connections and facilitating or maintaining the intensity of the experience.
Sexuality and attachment provide us with plenty of demonstrable evidences for this mechanism. Orgasms cause the body to release oxytocin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for forming feelings of attachment and "love", and the correlation between levels of sexual activity and contentment with one's partner has been demonstrated in multiple studies. Childbirth and breastfeeding also cause the release of oxytocin facilitating the bond between mother and child. Emotions are no more irrational than any of our other bodily functions, and can only be considered so from the aspect that rationality and reason are not applied to the release of chemicals, just as you don't have to think about breathing. Is breathing irrational?
But seriously, your argument is weak. Making inflammatory and incorrect soundbites like "religion is a mental disorder" hardly helps the rest of us atheists in arguments. Please think things through.
I have thought things through, thanks. Sorry if you feel like I'm giving you a bad reputation. Maybe you should call yourself something other than atheist to differentiate yourself from the rest of us and avoid the stigma. Like anti-inflammatory-statementist. Or, never-tell-people-they're-full-of-shitist.
Submitted by john allan tate iii on January 13, 2008 - 6:01pm.
are atheists ever wrong about anything?
yes. they might be wrong about god, too.
i submit to you that atheists are really agnostics with closed minds.
no offense intended.
Yes, we can be wrong.
Yes, we could be "wrong" about god, although to be wrong we would have had to assert first that our lack of belief in god was predicated on knowledge that no gods exist, which we never did, but other atheists may.
Atheism and agnosticism deal with different subjects entirely. Most of us here are agnostic atheists, meaning we have no belief in god due to our lack of knowledge of said being's existence.
I am slightly offended at the assumption that we are closed minded. I feel that I and my partners, plus the people here that I know well enough to be able to ascertain anything of substance, are all very open minded-to actual evidence.
Submitted by nen on January 13, 2008 - 7:41pm
On the other hand, one can kinda understand why theists sometimes try that trick. Despite the rules on the "Kill 'Em With Kindness" forum, I noticed Ad Hominem attacks in almost every thread I read. A lot of atheists here have their heads up their arses... I digress.
A lot of people have their heads up their asses. What makes you think that atheists would be any different. I am assuming that you aren't holding us to some kind of unwritten code of ethics for atheists, of course.
Are we on the same page as to what a straw man is? I was under the impression that a straw man is a misrepresentation of the opponents' position to make it easier to refute. So, in that case, unless "religion is a mental disorder" isn't really a belief that anyone holds, then it isn't a straw man. Of course, maybe people here are being ironic, sarcastic or metaphorical, but I didn't really get that impression.
That would be the definition of a strawman, but let me clarify our position here. The title of that post, along with our former haeder banner slogan, are designed to be controversial and slightly offensive. We feel that ridiculing religion is one of the best tactics when trying to reduce the impact of religion on society. Every person who has seen that or even the "Believe in God? We can fix that" slogans has had a small seed of doubt planted in their minds. They may react with indignation, but that stems from the deep-seated fear that we are right.
Sam Harris talks about using ridicule to end the KKK's influence and power on Truthdig.com in response to how to end irrational faith. We are kind of following that model. Do I honestly think that every single person who believes in god has a mental illness? No. But I believe that certain people's pre-existing mental illnesses can be made worse, people may develop certain guilt complexes or suffer from perpetual fear because of their existence as depraved, disgusting, sinful creatures, many people develop pathological sexuality issues, and the compartmentalization necessary to maintain your faith essentially boils down to denial and self-deception. I think that anybody can look around them and see how religion incites and justifies violence against others. The more fundamentalist groups are much more prone to these types of issues, but as I said before, that doesn't excuse religion. There is still a positive correlation between religiosity and certain neuroses. I will attempt to gather some of the studies that have been done and post them later for reference.
The instinctual need to create a sky daddy and build a story around him is just too hard for me to see. It's hard to see because every God requirers that the follower has faith. Faith is a belief without evidence which runs contrary to reason and logic. The first two sentences here merely state your opinion, so I'm going to leave them. The last one - I agree, but once again, why is it relevant?
The instinctual need to create a sky daddy and build a story around him is just too hard for me to see. It's hard to see because every God requirers that the follower has faith. Faith is a belief without evidence which runs contrary to reason and logic.
The first two sentences here merely state your opinion, so I'm going to leave them. The last one - I agree, but once again, why is it relevant?
It is relevant because any belief that is in constant conflict with actual evidence is psychologically harmful when it must be maintained despite conflicting evidence. Imagine that you suspect your partner is having an affair. When you start digging, you find odd charges from hotels, possibly other incriminating evidence, along with his/her sudden lack of interest in sex. For you to ignore all of what is staring you in the face will be extraordinarily difficult. It may cause anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts about the issue, or anger and bitterness. Now, imagine that you try to repress all of that and pretend it's not happening. You will need to devote a lot of mental energy to doing so, and ultimately, you are then harming yourself. Religion does the same thing.
Ok, I think this basically boils down to semantics then. If you define a mental disorder purely by the DSM-IV, which seems reasonable, you can call it a mental disorder. But let's take a look at what it thinks is a mental disorder. According to Wikipedia, mental conditions were added to the DSM-IV if they caused the following:
"clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning". (Take note: it doesn't say anything about rationality.)
Much of what I wrote above does point to distress or impairment in functioning. Obviously, we also have to take degrees of distress/impairment into consideration. Cutting off your own hand, cutting off your baby's arms, and drowning all 5 of your children seem pretty significant.
Well, due to the status of religion in the world, I don't think religion actually meets this criteria. Going to church can be social. You are generally not restricted from holding jobs based on your religious beliefs (though it might conflict with an evolutionary biologist's duties^^). In fact, religious people can, from a clinical point of view, operate completely normally in the world (unless they have other, independent issues).
True for the most part, but another facet of the danger of religion is its impact on society. How about the hospitals or doctors who refuse to provide certain services because of their religious beliefs? How about pharmacists who refuse to fill certain prescriptions? How about sending a country to war because god instructed him to do so? Are you getting it yet?
Once again, because religion is so ubiquitous, it seems like a misnomer to be calling it a "disorder", when the word is usually applied to something that is irregular.
How about this-religion may increase your susceptibility to mental illness and delusional beliefs. It should be a warning on the sides of bibles and korans.
I agree totally that religion is irrational and harmful, but I see no reason to call it a disorder, apart from being arrogant and inflammatory. Which I suppose was my original point. Stop being arrogant and inflammatory.
You are being arrogant and inflammatory by issuing some kind of order to stop being arrogant and inflammatory. Funny how that works, huh?
Submitted by Luigi Novi on January 13, 2008 - 11:14pm.
Theism is not a mental disorder. It is something that is derived by how we're hardwired. Human beings are pattern-seeking individuals, and as such, we sometimes, when searching for a pattern, have a hit ("Those are MOONS circuling Jupiter!" ), and sometimes have a miss ("This phenomena was caused by a GOD!" ). That's just in our nature. A person who holds a religious belief is not mentally ill.
I like you Luigi, but I must disagree at least partially. I already covered most of this already, but I do agree that we tend to seek out patterns and make sense out of a confusing, difficult, and sometimes painful existence, particularly our ancestors who were literally in danger of death at practically any moment. I get that. I already posted my disclaimer to the mental illness issue above.
The yokel who cut his hand off may very well be mentally ill, but that act is not necessarily derived from religion, or even necessarily expedited by it; It is just as well possible that he would've done that had he been an atheist.
I would say that that particular action would not have happened if he was an atheist. Something else possibly, but not that exact action. If you believe in no mark of the beast, or better yet, had never heard of it, where would that idea come from? If there wasn't a biblical injunction to do so, why would that particular thing have been so prominent in that man's mind? So, his mental illness may or may not have been influenced by religion, but his actions certainly were.
Does religion expedite violence in people in such a way that it would not do with the same people were they atheists? Arguably. But I think I better example would be the Crusades, the Inquisition, witchhunts, jihads, fatwas, circumcision, etc. because these people who commit those acts are not mentally ill, and this is why religion's power is so disturbing: It is disturbing precisely because it can get people who are not mentally ill to do things that would otherwise seem to be the domain of the mentally ill. That religion provides a prism for illogical behavior that secular ideas cannot is a valid criticism of it. But one is traipsing onto the realm of pseudoscience when one argues, without citing peer-reviewed scientific evidence, that it can objectively be labeled a sign of mental illness. Doing this is little different than when homophobes refer to homosexuals as mentally ill, or when anti-atheist theists claim that atheists are immoral.
If religion causes one to act in ways that are harmful to themselves or others, I feel that it should be held accountable for that. What is the difference between acting psychopathic and being psychopathic? Psychopathologies are defined by one's actions. It doesn't necessarily have to pervade every area of a person's life to still be considered problematic. An excellent read dealing with how theism, particularly evangelical christianity, affects the mental health of adherents is The Mind of the Bible Believer by Edmund Cohen. I also explained above the tactical reasons behind using controversial taglines.
But if these acts were born out of mental illness, then you would expect a drastic drop in mentall illness demographically if theism decreased and atheism increased. I'm skeptical that this would be the case, but it makes an interesting question. Do countries with higher levels of atheism than the U.S., like Sweden, for example, have a lower per capita rate of mental illness? Well, we know from the 2005 study "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies" published the Journal of Religion and Society (http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html) that there appears to be a positive correlation (though not necessarily causation) between religiosity and higher rates of abortion, teenage pregnancy and murder, but I know of no information offhand that establishes the same correlation for mental illness.
Can you supply such information, Kelly? If not, then I'd say that no, I still do not think that theism is a mental disorder. It's just an unfortunate by-product of what makes us uniquely human.
I think that one could infer that better functioning societies would tend to see less mental illness, but as far as actual studies, I would have to look around. I plan on compiling a list and posting it later.
Btw, has anyone else read Tom Neven's silly little essay in which he argues that pro-choicers use the term "pro-choice" as a euphemistic dodge because they can't win the debate on intellectual grounds? If you wanna read it, it's at: http://www.boundlessline.org/2008/01/abortion-and-th.html. My response to it is in that thread, near the bottom (Just do a search for my name). It's also my latest MySpace blog entry, at www.myspace.com/luiginovi.
This is off-topic, but I feel that both sides are filled with rhetoric and appeals to emotion on that argument. "Pro-lifers" who blow up abortion clinics and support the death penalty?
Submitted by nen on January 14, 2008 - 6:39pm.
On the strawman, Kelly in her OP, talked about "theism as a mental disorder" You equated "theism" with "religion" and shot that down. I tend to give Kelly enough credit that she knows how to choose her words.
But, which of my arguments don't apply when you replace the word "religion" with "theism"? This was just me being lax - I wasn't deliberately trying to modify her POV.
Personally, I would interchange the words as they are practically synonymous.
From what I gather on this site, the intent of the RRS seems to be to:
- Raise awareness of atheism.
- Appeal to those on the fence about religion.
- Stop marginalisation of atheists.
They have little interest (or hope) in converting die-hard theists, because this is a lost cause. (Of course, this may once again be a straw man, so someone please correct me if you think this is a misrepresentation!)
On the goals, you are correct, although we have other goals as well. We would like to encourage everybody to think critically about all areas of life. (nb: This does not mean that we think that we are always right or have perfected critical thinking. We're all still learning, but we try our best.)
We also have plenty of deconversions under our collective belts. Hardly a day goes by in which we don't get emails from people thanking us for helping them to break free from religion.
While making the "theism is a mental disorder" statement, you certainly accomplish the first of these. By being controversial, one can certainly gain attention. But, I would suggest it is counter-productive on the other two points.
Firstly, those on the fence, however irrationally, will judge an idea (or lack therefore ) by the people that adhere to it. If all atheists come off as arrogant, and make false statements about theism, it'll hardly entice anyone to seriously think about atheism, even if otherwise one might have eventually come round to the idea. And too, I have several nontheist friends who refuse to be labelled atheist simply because of the negative connotation.
Listen, we aim to be provocative. We have many reasons for the way in which we operate that have been discussed at length many times and I won't get into right now. Trust me-there's a method to the madness.
Anyway, how does pissing people off stop them from hassling us? It just gives the theist more ammo against us: "Hate the atheist, for he calls you insane for your beliefs!"
The ironic thing here is, that atheists generally value reason over petty urges (such as the urge to believe in a divine being). And yet, it seems that we're giving in to petty anger here, without really thinking it through.
Anyway, those're my thoughts. Anyone want to disagree?
Yes, I would like to disagree. If we polarize people, it will ultimately result in a situation in which other atheists aren't perceived as negatively because everybody's thankful that they're not us. Then they have a better chance of getting to know our friendly counterparts. We also feel that publicity and attention are the best ways to get the public to understand that we exist, and nothing gets more press than a good controversy. Just look at how much press we've gotten in the year and a half that we've been doing this and compare it to any other atheist group. We are regularly listed right alongside Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. I feel that we have been tremendously successful at achieving our goals. We just don't care about what others think about them. We make decisions for ourselves, and so far I don't see any of our haters achieving what we have in the short time that we've been operating.
Submitted by Charles Evolution on January 14, 2008 - 11:27pm.
I'm an atheist, but it seems to me that dragging this apparently schizophrenic guy who cut his hand off as a springboard for this argument is simply opportunism, pure and simple.
Actually, this man's psychiatric history was not known. He is not necessarily schizophrenic.
If you can't discern between real psychosis on the one hand, and religious fervor and its various neuroses on the other, then there's a problem here.
I feel that we can differentiate between the various ways in which religion is harmful to people, and this is just one example of that.
Schizophrenic people often can't navigate between imagination and reality. It's like living in a dream, often a scary dream where voices are commanding you to do things, and for some reason it's hard to resist those voices. That is a function of chemical imbalances in the brain that probably have a biological basis. But to link schizophrenia, however indirectly, to religion as a mental illness is irresponsible.
Like I said, there is no evidence that he had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. I also understand how these illnesses originate in the brain, but so does everything else, including the propensity towards religious belief.
It's not uncommon for schizophrenics to have "religious" delusions, but they can also have non-religious delusions involving extreterrestrials, the CIA, the FBI, the KKK, Nazis, their neighbors, family, and friends.
There is actually a positive correlation between schizophrenia and religiosity. (Link coming soon.) The central issue in all of those issues is one of being paranoid. What else could be more frightening to a paranoid person than an all-knowing, ever-present god who will torture you for all eternity if you don't meet his standards?
Is religion a form of mental illness? Maybe, but it's not the same as schizophrenia. Even in cultures full of religious, superstitious beliefs, schizophrenics still stand out as psychotics with chemical brain imbalances.
Drug addicts, people with depression, nymphomaniacs, and the excessively religious all have chemical imbalances.
Submitted by teddy5k on January 14, 2008 - 11:56pm.
well said. i do think that the message of RRS gets lost with some very blatant attention getting lines. their intent is still to rid the world of religion, one conversion at a time. i would like them to be a little more as their namesake states.....rational. when they start saying things like mental disorder, it doesnt help anything. until its fully proven that its a mental disorder(which it never will), theists can walk all over that statement.
What are we supposed to be helping here? As far as I can tell, we should be doing whatever we feel is necessary, especially considering the facts I illustrated above regarding our intent and success in that area.
RRS and many other atheists, tend to fall in the category of extremists. it seems that it is very hard to belong to anything involving religion or anti-religion these days without having to be an extremists to get your point across or get respect. this of course, is a very bad category to fall in to. i hope that doesnt happen seeing how big RRS is and how much of an influence RRS has, and will have on atheism in the 21st century. on the other side, if you just sit back and be a quiet atheist you are doing the same good/bad a quiet theist is doing. nothing. if you care about your country or your world, you need to help. i do my part with my friends and family in a respectful rational way. i hope others do the same. i would love to see RRS help atheists do the same with their families and friends.
I hope that everybody speaks out in whatever way they feel comfortable. We do things a particular way, but we never said that everybody has to operate in that manner. In fact, we think that it would be detrimental if everybody was as "extreme" as us. We'll do our job-you can do yours.
Submitted by bullhead2007 on January 15, 2008 - 12:51am.
I agree with the last few people. I love the rational response squad, but sometimes you guys play a bad representation of atheists like me.
It's a good thing that we aren't your representatives, then.
Now I would say religion (usually) leads to very irrational behavior, and sometimes can lead people to do extremely irrational behavior that is pretty insane. However, I would not become so prejudice or bigoted that I'd say all theism is a mental disorder. Perhaps a mental block but not a "disorder" in a medical sense. This block can lead to people doing insanely good and benevolent things, but it can lead to insanely malevolent or violent things. Perhaps those who are already mentally weak succumb to fanaticism by using religious or spiritual ideas as a mental crutch, but let's not get simple minded by labelling theism as a mental disorder (meaning they are flawed humans, mentally less than atheists, etc).
I wouldn't contend that any mental illness makes one a "flawed human"; rather, it just makes them a human with a mental illness.
This kind of bigotry doesn't do anyone good in any situation, and in this situation it especially doesn't help atheists. If we ever want to be taken seriously, and end the negative views and hatred towards us, then we need to be more rational than that.
I think that our stance is rational. I think that this can be demonstrated and I will begin compiling studies as soon as I can.
I also fail to see the bigotry of which you speak. I have no prejudice against those who have been afflicted with mental illnesses. If I did, I would be bigoted against most of my family and probably myself. Is labeling depression a mental illness a sign of bigotry against them or a statement of fact?
Submitted by Charles Evolution on January 15, 2008 - 1:16am.
I like the RSS. And I like it as much as any out-of-the-closet atheist can, but having known a number of people with schizophrenia, I'm a bit concerned that people with mental illnesses are being lumped together with the scary evangelical religious faithful. This is not right.
I am glad that you like us, and that you're able to voice your objections in a reasonable manner. However, I do believe that the "scary evangelical religious faithful" are the victims of a mental disorder. Whether it was caused by religion or just worsened by it, it really doesn't matter. It is obvious that they are more likely to act on their religious convictions in an entirely different way than others. When's the last time you saw an atheist suicide bomber?
This approach does not genuinely serve psychotic people and their needs. In fact it might allow schizophrenics with religious delusions to be denied the proper respect they deserve in order to deal with their mental health issues.
On the contrary, as opposed to allowing religion to inflict further damage to these people, I feel that the responsible thing to do is to protect them from religion. That necessitates the recognition that religion is a dangerous and negative force in society.
If this disturbed guy didn't live in a religious culture, he would probably have some other hallucination that could have caused as much damage, based on whatever the irrestable voices in his head told him to do. One could debate this point, but plenty of images of violence and mutilation exist in every culture, and they're not all founded by religion.
We realize this, but how will we know exactly how religion influences these delusions until it is essentially eliminated? Unfortunately, we can't see the outcome clearly, but I feel that we can label religion as a detrimental influence on a person's psychology, and even more so for those who are susceptible to delusions.