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Old 18th December 2018, 01:45 PM   #1
Thor 2
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Religious? Are you mad!?

There has been some discussion in other threads regarding whether having religious belief can be described as a mental disorder. A number of prominent atheists have suggested it is and I tend to agree with them. I suggest that most here would agree too but possibly only in extreme cases:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-...eveal/10630648

Quote:
The parents of a baby whose body washed up on a Gold Coast beach believed the girl could be "the devil" and was "evil", according to court documents obtained by the ABC.
The details of some of the father's interview with police are outlined in the documents, along with information from the interview with the baby's mother.
The 46-year-old man is accused of murdering the baby.

Few would disagree with the suggestion this guy* was insane I would think, but would balk at the suggestion that all people of religious faith are thus afflicted. It's all a matter of degree I suppose and most will draw a line somewhere.

If you are one of the above where do you draw the line? I have a nephew who thinks homosexuality is the result of a demon possession. Is he a sufferer of mental disorder?

* One thing I forgot to add. The mother also thought the baby was evil.
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Old 18th December 2018, 01:49 PM   #2
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Listen one of the most common demonizations of atheist/skeptics/whatnot is that we stereotype religious people as either crazy or stupid.

Let me be blunt here. I wish I could do that. Do you have any idea how much easier my life with be if I could just write off religion as crazy and/or stupid?

No what I have to do is create a worldview were demonstratively not crazy or stupid people believe objectively crazy or stupid things. And that kind of compartmentalization is a lot harder to wrap your head around than a simple "Well they're a crazy/stupid, case close" *wipes hands.*

So no. I don't think religious people in general are crazy or stupid.
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Old 18th December 2018, 01:52 PM   #3
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When trying to diagnose a patient with schizophrenia, it is vitally important to know before if that person is religious or not - the devout can do and say much more insane stuff before it rises to the level of clinical disorder than rational atheists.
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Old 18th December 2018, 01:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Listen one of the most common demonizations of atheist/skeptics/whatnot is that we stereotype religious people as either crazy or stupid.

Let me be blunt here. I wish I could do that. Do you have any idea how much easier my life with be if I could just write off religion as crazy and/or stupid?

No what I have to do is create a worldview were demonstratavley not crazy or stupid people believe objectively crazy or stupid things. And that kind of compartmentalization is a lot harder to wrap your head around than a simple "Well they're a crazy/stupid, case close" *wipes hands.*

So no. I don't think religious people in general are crazy or stupid.

Pretty sure I have heard Richard Dawkins express this view, (I will research this),
but here is one other:

Quote:
A neuroendocrinologist called Robert Sapolsky, a professor at Stanford University, is a self-described atheist.

When accepting the Emperor Has No Clothes Award in 2002 from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is given for recognition of "plain speaking" on the shortcomings of religion by public figures, he said:

I was raised in an Orthodox (Jewish) household, and I was raised devoutly religious up until around age 13 or so. In my adolescent years, one of the defining actions in my life was breaking away from all religious belief whatsoever.

He's also, during footage of one of his lectures, compared religion to a shared schizophrenia, argued that the behaviours exhibited by "prophets" in religious texts are diagnosable acts. He's also reasoned that the parables and teachings of these men - such as stories of the construction of the world in seven days, virgin births and burning bushes - are stories constructed by "extremely formative, extremely schizotypals throughout history".

He's argued that religious rituals are a form of exhibiting obsessive-compulsive disorders, and that religious people are on a spectrum of mental illness.
Oh don't conflate crazy and stupid. Someone can be quite brilliant but crazy.
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:04 PM   #5
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Richard Dawkins expressed the view that he was sympathetic to Robert Pirsig's statement in Lila (1991) that "when one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion."
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:13 PM   #6
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I will argue that, ironically and this is actually something I butt heads with my fellow atheist/skeptics/whatevers on occasion, that this whole mentality has created this weird dichotomy where we as a society and (usually) as individual have sort of adopted the rule that we embrace religious beliefs until they become "extreme" and while that sounds good on the surface (and certain versions of that mentality 100% do have their place) I do sort wish we would take a step back and realize how often that (good intentioned) mentality leads to on a functional level society putting on religious people the rule that they be religious... right up until the point where you are acting like someone who honestly believed what they are saying was true.

And, despite my long seated problem with religion, I will not do my fellow humans the disservice of telling them "You can honestly believe there's an powerful creator controlling and judging our lives... but you can't act like somebody who honestly thought that was true would logically act." That's too much of a tightrope to expect someone to walk.

Ironically that's probably why I'm seen as so "dogmatic" of an atheist, because I don't think it's fair for me to pretend I'm okay with the bedrock of a belief structure I know I'm not going to be okay with any practical real world application of. It's not fair to them.
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:19 PM   #7
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Religion fills holes in understanding of people who need an answer but will not seek answers actively. It can explain all without any proof at all.

Those who cannot accept "I don't know but it really does not affect me not knowing."

Deep questions like why do humans have so much more capability than other species despite being anatomically similar. Why can we override instinct and do sports like boxing. Or possibly be so cruel to other humans and write them off as having no value.

These are not questions the average person can answer because most are not even vaguely understanding how a brain works. I certainly cannot say why but I can accept I do not know and may never find an answer.
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:24 PM   #8
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most people are mad. blunt believing in anything is.
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:33 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 8enotto View Post
Religion fills holes in understanding of people who need an answer but will not seek answers actively. It can explain all without any proof at all.

Those who cannot accept "I don't know but it really does not affect me not knowing."

Deep questions like why do humans have so much more capability than other species despite being anatomically similar. Why can we override instinct and do sports like boxing. Or possibly be so cruel to other humans and write them off as having no value.

These are not questions the average person can answer because most are not even vaguely understanding how a brain works. I certainly cannot say why but I can accept I do not know and may never find an answer.
My bold. Surely fighting is one of the basic instincts that we have?
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:36 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by kayle View Post
most people are mad. blunt believing in anything is.
Many people are not entirely rational. Look at conspiracy theories for example, like those who abused the parents of school shooting victims.

As Paul Simon wrote, A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:37 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Listen one of the most common demonizations of atheist/skeptics/whatnot is that we stereotype religious people as either crazy or stupid.

Let me be blunt here. I wish I could do that. Do you have any idea how much easier my life with be if I could just write off religion as crazy and/or stupid?

No what I have to do is create a worldview were demonstratively not crazy or stupid people believe objectively crazy or stupid things. And that kind of compartmentalization is a lot harder to wrap your head around than a simple "Well they're a crazy/stupid, case close" *wipes hands.*

So no. I don't think religious people in general are crazy or stupid.
Does this apply to other things or only religion?

I mean you could argue that someone who thinks they talk to Winston Churchill on a giant invisible telephone is not crazy but just believing a crazy thing. At what point does someone switch from 'believing a crazy thing' to being 'crazy'?
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:40 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Archie Gemmill Goal View Post
Does this apply to other things or only religion?

I mean you could argue that someone who thinks they talk to Winston Churchill on a giant invisible telephone is not crazy but just believing a crazy thing. At what point does someone switch from 'believing a crazy thing' to being 'crazy'?
ETA: Reading my response I don't think I made any sense, give me a minute.
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Archie Gemmill Goal View Post
Does this apply to other things or only religion?

I mean you could argue that someone who thinks they talk to Winston Churchill on a giant invisible telephone is not crazy but just believing a crazy thing. At what point does someone switch from 'believing a crazy thing' to being 'crazy'?
I don't personally make that much of a demarcation between religious beliefs and other things so... not really all the same rules apply.

"Religious belief" is, to me, more of a... branding of the social acceptance of something than anything.
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:50 PM   #14
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Clinical insanity is often defined as a mental disorder severe enough to significantly impact on the ability of the person to function in life and in society. Most (certainly not all) people with religious beliefs are still able to function in society as it is currently organized (because society is organized in a religion-friendly structure by people who share the same or analogous beliefs). So believing in invisible gods, even to the point of running much of one's life on the basis of imagined pronouncements by the same, is not generally considered clinical insanity. Although I do think we cut much more slack for religious beliefs than we should when they impact others.

Believing in unicorns falls under the same rubric: exceedingly odd but not insane if it does not keep the believer from having a job, eating, and having a place to live.

Personally I view all religions as incredible suspensions of logic and believing in them as, um, unbelievable. But I can buy into the clinical definition that keeps believers from being viewed as truly insane.

Also I find religions do help soothe many people, and in addition to being sources of evil in many cases, can alternatively inspire some to do very good things for others and for society. Even fake things can be useful, like Bokononism in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.
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Old 18th December 2018, 02:57 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Diablo View Post
My bold. Surely fighting is one of the basic instincts that we have?
Boxing goes against common instinct. Some dude starts hitting you and you can choose to hit him back or easily get away from him. Most will get away and avoid further contact. The boxers know real permanent bodily injury will occur and possibly debilitating at an early age. But the prize is good enough to risk it.

Fighting for a cause or because it is the only option is different. You get past the danger and if one survived hope you never have to do it again.

Meanwhile the boxer signs on another fight after a hospital stay for a concussion.
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Old 18th December 2018, 03:04 PM   #16
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Boxing is just one form of ritualised fighting, from wrestling to sumo to martial arts. Sports like (US) football and rugby are not far behind. People (mostly men) like fighting each other on an instinctual level.
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Old 18th December 2018, 03:46 PM   #17
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Stupid .. what does it even mean ? Well religious people are less skeptical then I am, that's for sure. I even consider it as 'less intelligent' in a special way. Doesn't mean they can't beat me in chess. It's just that I think their opinions are ridiculous.
But what would calling them 'stupid' even be good for. Or 'crazy'. You want to remove voting rights from them ? Take their children ?
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Old 18th December 2018, 04:14 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Dr.Sid View Post
Stupid .. what does it even mean ? Well religious people are less skeptical then I am, that's for sure. I even consider it as 'less intelligent' in a special way. Doesn't mean they can't beat me in chess. It's just that I think their opinions are ridiculous.
But what would calling them 'stupid' even be good for. Or 'crazy'. You want to remove voting rights from them ? Take their children ?

Spare us the hyperbole if you would Dr.Sid.
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Old 18th December 2018, 04:54 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Dr.Sid View Post
Stupid .. what does it even mean ? Well religious people are less skeptical then I am, that's for sure. I even consider it as 'less intelligent' in a special way. Doesn't mean they can't beat me in chess. It's just that I think their opinions are ridiculous.
But what would calling them 'stupid' even be good for. Or 'crazy'. You want to remove voting rights from them ? Take their children ?
"Ridiculous" . . . what does that even mean? Do you mean perhaps their religious beliefs (aka opinions) are . . . like . . . stupid (in modern times)?

Are their opinions about chess ridiculous, even those that can beat you?

But what would calling them 'ridiculous' even be good for. Or 'crazy'. You want to remove voting rights from them ? Take their children ?
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Old 18th December 2018, 05:58 PM   #20
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When will the white van be coming to pick me up?
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Old 18th December 2018, 06:08 PM   #21
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It's not in the DSM.
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Old 18th December 2018, 07:02 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
When will the white van be coming to pick me up?
Something to cheer you up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnzHtm1jhL4
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Old 18th December 2018, 07:42 PM   #23
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Anyone with the belief that their religious belief entitles them to commit violent acts against other humans may be insane, but are certainly ********.

Anyone with the belief that their religious belief obligates them to help other people may be insane in some manner, but as long as they don't injure or otherwise harm another person they're OK with me.
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Old 18th December 2018, 07:43 PM   #24
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It is delusional, if the religious person is unwilling to consider they might be wrong. A person suffering from schizophrenia is also unlikely to accept they are delusional.


Either person might find themselves in a position to make a decision that would affect my life, and it is unreasonable to have this happen if the delusion could be the deciding factor.
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Old 18th December 2018, 07:58 PM   #25
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A mental illness is defined as a condition that causes significant distress or impairment of personal function. I'm sure you can find some examples of religion causing significant distress or personal function, but it is certainly not a common factor in all religious people.
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Old 18th December 2018, 09:26 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
There has been some discussion in other threads regarding whether having religious belief can be described as a mental disorder. A number of prominent atheists have suggested it is and I tend to agree with them. I suggest that most here would agree too but possibly only in extreme cases:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-...eveal/10630648

Few would disagree with the suggestion this guy* was insane I would think, but would balk at the suggestion that all people of religious faith are thus afflicted. It's all a matter of degree I suppose and most will draw a line somewhere.

If you are one of the above where do you draw the line? I have a nephew who thinks homosexuality is the result of a demon possession. Is he a sufferer of mental disorder?

* One thing I forgot to add. The mother also thought the baby was evil.
Not sure where to start with this one my friend, but I'll give it a try. Perhaps the most fundamental problem with the premise of the thread is the expected pace of societal change and the extreme disdain of those who "lag" by those that perceive/proclaim themselves to be the modern-day "enlightened cadre". The same groups/people that appear tremendously well-versed in psychology and neurochemistry for the purposes of debunking religious claims seem to skip the studies that describe and demonstrate how difficult it is for groups/people to change their thinking and beliefs. It's an example of choosing cynicism over empathy, which frankly (forgive my strong language) is an ugly, arrogant, childish indulgence that is a major impediment to positive dialogue and social change.

Also, if the metric for "sane" is "logical" we're all "mad" to some degree.
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Old 18th December 2018, 09:52 PM   #27
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Also, I'd like to add this. It's true that several prominent atheists have claimed that religion is a mental illness, but how many of them have been mental health care professionals? How many of them have studied abnormal psychology? How many of them are speaking outside their field of authority?
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Old 18th December 2018, 10:09 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Something to cheer you up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnzHtm1jhL4
Trees, flowers, and chirping birds!
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Old 18th December 2018, 10:14 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Also, I'd like to add this. It's true that several prominent atheists have claimed that religion is a mental illness, but how many of them have been mental health care professionals? How many of them have studied abnormal psychology? How many of them are speaking outside their field of authority?
I don't think the famous atheists are even calling it actual mental illness, but rather saying it's like a mental illness.
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Old 18th December 2018, 10:18 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
A mental illness is defined as a condition that causes significant distress or impairment of personal function. I'm sure you can find some examples of religion causing significant distress or personal function, but it is certainly not a common factor in all religious people.
Indeed. You can find examples where it enhances personal life.
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Old 18th December 2018, 10:22 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Not sure where to start with this one my friend, but I'll give it a try. Perhaps the most fundamental problem with the premise of the thread is the expected pace of societal change and the extreme disdain of those who "lag" by those that perceive/proclaim themselves to be the modern-day "enlightened cadre". The same groups/people that appear tremendously well-versed in psychology and neurochemistry for the purposes of debunking religious claims seem to skip the studies that describe and demonstrate how difficult it is for groups/people to change their thinking and beliefs. It's an example of choosing cynicism over empathy, which frankly (forgive my strong language) is an ugly, arrogant, childish indulgence that is a major impediment to positive dialogue and social change.

Also, if the metric for "sane" is "logical" we're all "mad" to some degree.
Yes. It's so damned religious to assume on basis of belief or disbelief ones spiritual superiority.
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Old 18th December 2018, 10:29 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
I don't think the famous atheists are even calling it actual mental illness, but rather saying it's like a mental illness.
That's not what is proposed in the OP. "A number of prominent atheists have suggested it is" is the exact quote. And you know as well as I do that atheists refer to religious people as "delusional" and refer to religion as "insanity". They're not saying that it's like a mental illness, they're saying that it is a mental illness. By the definition of mental illness, it is not.

ETA: In the case of the example provided, I would say that the person is mentally ill and religious. But their mental illness is likely schizophrenia, not religion.
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Old 18th December 2018, 10:53 PM   #33
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If just one person ever claimed that an invisible, magical, super sky fairy (aka daddy ) that created everything actually exists, along with all the other paranormal/supernatural claims made by religions, I wonder how that person would be diagnosed by mental health professionals?
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Old 18th December 2018, 11:07 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Not sure where to start with this one my friend, but I'll give it a try. Perhaps the most fundamental problem with the premise of the thread is the expected pace of societal change and the extreme disdain of those who "lag" by those that perceive/proclaim themselves to be the modern-day "enlightened cadre". The same groups/people that appear tremendously well-versed in psychology and neurochemistry for the purposes of debunking religious claims seem to skip the studies that describe and demonstrate how difficult it is for groups/people to change their thinking and beliefs. It's an example of choosing cynicism over empathy, which frankly (forgive my strong language) is an ugly, arrogant, childish indulgence that is a major impediment to positive dialogue and social change.

Also, if the metric for "sane" is "logical" we're all "mad" to some degree.

Hello again attempt5001. It's good to see you being prepared to engage in conversation on this thread, most of the faithful tend to shy away from discussions of this kind.

I don't feel distain but empathy for those afflicted with beliefs that cloud their reasoning. I was once so afflicted, (as we so many others on this forum), and experienced tremendous relief when I was fortunate enough to leave it behind.

Social change has been most rapid in the West and one of the results of this has been the dramatic decline in religious observance, in Europe in particular. Don't know if those "groups/people that appear tremendously well-versed in psychology and neurochemistry" become that way with the purpose of "debunking religious claims" or if it is the other way around.

Atheists like Richard Dawkins claim considerable success in relieving people of their faith with his rather confrontational approach, which I don't think he does with malice. Perhaps he feels he's doing good with his approach.

As kellyb says above ^ the claim that religion is like mental illness has been suggested by some. The way it is passed on, from parents to children, is an illustration of this. Interesting the way so many of the faithful, aren't bothered by the fact that they just happened to embrace the faith of their parents, and it was the right one.
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Old 18th December 2018, 11:10 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
Yes. It's so damned religious to assume on basis of belief or disbelief ones spiritual superiority.

Huh?
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Old 18th December 2018, 11:19 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
That's not what is proposed in the OP. "A number of prominent atheists have suggested it is" is the exact quote. And you know as well as I do that atheists refer to religious people as "delusional" and refer to religion as "insanity". They're not saying that it's like a mental illness, they're saying that it is a mental illness. By the definition of mental illness, it is not.

ETA: In the case of the example provided, I would say that the person is mentally ill and religious. But their mental illness is likely schizophrenia, not religion.

I know you have this hang up about there being a slur attached to the notion that someone is mentally unwell arth. You expressed this opinion on another thread quit recently as I recall. Unlike yourself I don't hold this view.
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Old 18th December 2018, 11:39 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Listen one of the most common demonizations of atheist/skeptics/whatnot is that we stereotype religious people as either crazy or stupid.

Let me be blunt here. I wish I could do that. Do you have any idea how much easier my life with be if I could just write off religion as crazy and/or stupid?

No what I have to do is create a worldview were demonstratively not crazy or stupid people believe objectively crazy or stupid things. And that kind of compartmentalization is a lot harder to wrap your head around than a simple "Well they're a crazy/stupid, case close" *wipes hands.*

So no. I don't think religious people in general are crazy or stupid.
But they need to leave the reality people alone...ÖÖ...
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Old 18th December 2018, 11:52 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I know you have this hang up about there being a slur attached to the notion that someone is mentally unwell arth. You expressed this opinion on another thread quit recently as I recall. Unlike yourself I don't hold this view.
I'm very glad you don't. I don't either. However, lots and lots and lots of people do, and that's not even the point here.
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Old 19th December 2018, 03:36 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
A mental illness is defined as a condition that causes significant distress or impairment of personal function. I'm sure you can find some examples of religion causing significant distress or personal function, but it is certainly not a common factor in all religious people.
I've always thought that definition is nothing but a tarting up of "in Britain if you are upper-class you are eccentric, if lower class you are mad".

What that definition does is say that a mental illness depends on whether you have the means via influence, power, social status, money and so on to force society to enable your illness or not.

I'd rather a definition that doesn't depend on a person's or organisation's influence to decide if something is a mental illness or not but on some form of objective criteria.

Let me give you an example, many homosexual people - even today in slightly more tolerant countries like the UK or Australia - will experience anguish at times or even lifelong because their sexuality "causes significant distress or impairment of personal function", by your definition homosexuality should again be classified as a mental illness.
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Old 19th December 2018, 06:03 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I've always thought that definition is nothing but a tarting up of "in Britain if you are upper-class you are eccentric, if lower class you are mad".

What that definition does is say that a mental illness depends on whether you have the means via influence, power, social status, money and so on to force society to enable your illness or not.

I'd rather a definition that doesn't depend on a person's or organisation's influence to decide if something is a mental illness or not but on some form of objective criteria.

Let me give you an example, many homosexual people - even today in slightly more tolerant countries like the UK or Australia - will experience anguish at times or even lifelong because their sexuality "causes significant distress or impairment of personal function", by your definition homosexuality should again be classified as a mental illness.
Indeed. I kind of understand why its there but it does seem rather woolly.

Equally someone who talks to Churchill on the big invisible telephone is not mentally ill provided it doesn't impact their lives in some terrible way? Someone seeing people who aren't there that tell them 'just get on with your business as normal' isn't mentally ill?

Equally you could probably make an argument that a nun or a priest has significantly impaired their personal function with their belief in God but because that is an acceptable lifestyle it gets a pass.

It seems to basically boil down some things are 'acceptable' to society and some things aren't. Which doesn't seem like a very good clinical definition.
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