Still Don’t Think that Theism is a Mental Disorder?

Posted on January 13, 2008. Filed under: Atheism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Wow. A whole barrage of nonsense came at us in the past two weeks or so. First off…a man cuts off his own hand with a circular saw after seeing the Mark of the Beast on it. With a circular saw. And then microwaves it. And then calls the authorities. A quote from one of the sherriff’s deputies states, “That kind of mental illness is just sad.” I couldn’t agree more.

Now, I know what you guys are going to say–“It’s not BECAUSE of religion.” Actually, I don’t think that a case could be made either way. Was he likely vulnerable to delusional behavior? Yeah, I’ll concede that one. The fact that religion is unique in its ability to seep into the crevices of your mind so pervasively that this theme plays out in our society over and over again isn’t addressed by that statement, though. How do the appeasers and framers answer that? Maybe it only manifests itself in those already prone to mental illness, but isn’t that akin to excusing and perpetuating a belief system that preys on the weak? What exactly is it that causes atheists to feel this compulsion to cover for a malevolent, archaic belief that has caused mothers to kill their children, countless cases of child abuse, seemingly endless wars and violence, and self-mutilation and flagellation that can be traced back to the very foundation of the religion?

One doesn’t need to delve too deeply to uncover the singular thread that has persisted throughout religious history–violence. Violence against others and oneself. Internally or externally expressed; it’s there from day one. Ignatius of Loyola makes an interesting case study demonstrating the way in which religion exploits this predisposition to self-loathing and delusional disorders. The esteemed founder of the Jesuit’s autobiography details graphically the man’s obsession with self-harm, his hallucinations, and his severe depression which would at times lead him to drastic measures such as digging a hole in his room at college deep enough that he hoped to end his life by jumping into it. All that to escape the demons that he felt were tempting him with indecent, ungodly thoughts. Sometimes that would lead to an insatiable desire to harm himself in order to purge this evil from his body, simultaneously punishing himself for not having the strength to resist thoughts that were likely normal human doubts and concerns. His life as a beggar on the streets, living only off of the good-will (and pity) of others, as well as an extremely hazardous trek from his home in Italy to Jerusalem soon after his conversion on which he embarked with nothing more than the clothes on his back all coalesce to form an image of a man haunted by the great spector in the sky and his impending wrath…read more


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One Response to “Still Don’t Think that Theism is a Mental Disorder?”

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Fantastic post! Religion causes more harm than anything else in our society, and, when combined with politics, it’s absolutely deadly.

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