Harmless Delusion or Destructive Mental Disorder?

in #philosophy7 years ago (edited)

Well, it looks like religion is everyone's new favorite topic now so I guess its time to get all controversial and stuff. I'm actually really glad to see people getting out of their comfort zones to explore more divisive topics rather than just patting each other on the back for steem dollars. Maybe we can do abortion or genetic differences between races next. ;-)

I was born to Christian parents who indoctrinated me accordingly. As a result I grew up believing that The Bible was non-fiction and that all of its words were true and accurate. I believed that there is an all-powerful invisible being watching and judging my every move, every word, and every thought. I believed that this god was morally perfect and that all else was evil by comparison. I believed that “sin” exists and that we're all born as babies with an original sin right from the beginning. I believed that my ancestors offended this god by disobeying him and thus caused it to curse all future generations of humanity with pain and suffering that would have otherwise been spared us. I believed that this perfect almighty god somehow had an adversary that was able to undermine him and cause events to occur contrary to his intent by tempting us to disobey divine orders…

None of this made any logical sense, but I believed it all because I was conditioned to do so by my environment… right from day one.

What if I had been born to Hindu parents in India instead? I would have grown up believing totally different pack of lies just as fervently. Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I can move the world… Give me enough carrots, enough sticks, and enough time, and I can make anyone believe anything at all.

That said, I'm not against any god any more than I am against space unicorns or frozen fire. I simply don't believe in the existence of that which cannot possibly exist. Gods are fundamentally self-contradictory and thus cannot exist. At the very minimum, a god is defined as an eternal being that exists independent of material form and detectable energy, and which usually possesses the rather enviable attributes of omniscience and omnipotence… Omniscience cannot coexist with omnipotence, since if a god knows what will happen tomorrow, said god will be unable to change it without invalidating its knowledge. If this god retains the power to change what will happen tomorrow, then it cannot know with exact certainty what will happen tomorrow. The usual response from theists is to place their god “outside of time,” but this is pure nonsense because when an entity is proven to be self-contradictory, creating a realm wherein self-contradictions are valid does not solve the problem.

If you tell me that a square circle cannot exist, and I then create an imaginary realm outside of reality where square circles can exist, we are not at an impasse; I have just abandoned reality, rationality, and quite possibly my sanity. An object can only rationally be defined as existing when it can be detected in some manner, either directly, in the form of matter and/or energy, or indirectly, based upon its effects on the objects around it. Differentiating between existence and nonexistence is something that we are usually able to manage before we’re six months old. A god – or at least any god that has been historically proposed or accepted – is that which cannot be detected by any material means, either directly or indirectly. Since “god” means “that which is undetectable, either directly or indirectly,” then the statement “gods exist” rationally breaks down to: “That which does not exist, exists.” So, not only are gods entirely self-contradictory, but even the proposition that they exist is self-contradictory. If we try to claim that gods may exist in another universe, we are instantly contradicting ourselves, because the word “gods” contains specific knowledge claims (intelligence, omnipotence, immateriality etc.) which cannot be applied to a dimension about which we know nothing.

Bearing this all in mind, what’s the point in studying, preaching, and debating the words of any book that makes wildly impossible claims and thus cannot possibly be any more than a work of fiction, a novel (and not a very good one either)? How tragic it is that so much pain and suffering has been justified by such books through the centuries.

On a side note, even if the characters in The Bible were actual beings of our reality, the one called God is easily the most villainous of them all. Petty, jealous, spiteful, vengeful, quick to anger, heavy-handed, hypocritical, sadistic… At least the serpent in the garden was truthful and helped the Adam and Eve characters to see what had been hidden from them. God supposedly told them that if they ate of the tree, they would surely die (in plain language to simple, childlike humans) and this turned out to be a lie. This Satan character never lived up to his villainous image but the God character repeatedly proved himself to be more evil than any other character in the book – certainly not worthy of basic respect, let alone love or worship. I can't bring myself to see it as any more than a sick, twisted little fairy tale and it's a damn shame that it has been so successfully used by so many abusive perverts in the violation of so many people throughout history.

I could go on but I suspect that this out to be enough to illustrate why I'm not content to just accept this mythology and superstition as harmless delusion. If it were confined to the minds of believers, I wouldn't care. Unfortunately though, it motivates people to violate others and ought not be tolerated by any peaceful, civilized person. Whether it's soldiers waging holy wars in the desert, terrorists blowing up a shopping mall, priest raping altar boys, or parents striking their children, people follow their religious guidebooks and act out all sorts of violent offenses accordingly. It's not a harmless quirk or eccentricity, it's a dangerous mental disorder that calls for much more attention and resistance than it has been getting by the more rational minds among us. I really don't care what people think in the privacy of their own minds but when they act violently upon their beliefs, they become a hazard to the community and ought not be ignored.


If it a harmless delusion or a dangerous superstition? It can be one or the other, both or neither, but in the end it doesn't matter.

All you need to do is not to pass it to children as an absolute truth, even if you believe that it's the real deal. But what happens is that they take advantage of children's love for their parents and dependability on them to anchor their doctrine.

Later as they grow up it will be harder for those kids to challenge those beliefs because of the can of worms they could open, what else have I been led to believe?

Not to mention, they have invested a lot on that belief so it's harder to leave it behind. I mean, some dudes buy a girl a drink in a bar and they keep insisting even though they know she's no longer interested in them, just because they feel invested in that drink, so imagine if they feel invested in a religion.

In Scandinavia they opted against teaching kids religion until they grow up a bit, and how many religious people are there now?

It's like that bit from Stanhope:

"If you had just never heard of the Bible ... let's say they put it on the back of fucking Captain Crunch, how quick would you recognize that as true? Would you go, "Hey, this is exactly what I was looking for! Yeah, the fucking flood and the Ark ... this sounds incredibly true!" You'd throw it in the trash, would you not?

That's why they have to pump it in your head when you're still little, and you've got a soft spot, and you're Santa-Claus eligible ... and they cork it with fear, and you go, "Well, I'm not hardcore," and you make your own Christianity."

That being said, it was brave of you to post this, I wrote a funny piece on religion earlier today and I decided against pressing the post button. Maybe I would some time, I don't know.

Bingo... although I would argue that Scandanavians are still very religious. They just worship and serve the state instead of a deity.

I don't disagree with you there. Did you check out the Law of Jante?

You're not to think you are anything special.
You're not to think you are as good as we are.
You're not to think you are smarter than we are.
You're not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
You're not to think you know more than we do.
You're not to think you are more important than we are.
You're not to think you are good at anything.
You're not to laugh at us.
You're not to think anyone cares about you.
You're not to think you can teach us anything.

The State is God, put in pen, paper and made into as law.

I couldn't agree more. When you condition a mind to reject reason, it becomes that much more vulnerable to other influences. It's a win-win for any old psychopath.

Let's assume for a second that the hierarchy and earthly power of a 'religion' is somehow controlled at the top by someone extremely good. The trust built up in people only makes it that much easier for the hierarchy to be subverted once the 'good' leader dies.

Yeah, in my late teens, even though I kicked Christianity to the curb, my brain was still vulnerable to crazy ideologies because I hadn't yet learned how to think properly and wasn't committed to objective reality. As a result, I slipped into a bunch of alternative "new age" stuff for a couple of years. Fortunately, I got my shit together by my early twenties and it's been smooth sailing ever since.

I just wrote a new comic take on the subject, I would love your take on it.

Please let me know if it's too controversial?


Ha! Nice :)

Thanks! So not too controversial do you think?

One argument clearly demonstrating absurdity of any religion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

Living in a dreamworld where everything is determined by a deity, not self, is comforting for many people and much safer than living with reality, which can be pretty hard hitting :)

Yeah, most people are afraid of personal responsibility so the idea that someone else is running the show really appeals to them.

Have your people read Answer to Job?

Not yet but it sounds interesting. You'd recommend it?

Sure, that's why I am mentioning it :-)

Cool. I'll check it out. :)

All of your objections stem from humans exercising their free will to reject God's commands or invent their own personal policy preferences. Pointing to non-Christian behaviors as reasons to reject Christianity is intellectually dishonest.

Sir Francis Bacon (scientific method founder) and Sir Isaac Newton can hardly be accused of "not using their minds" yet they are some of the strongest believers and analysts of the Bible. Newton spent more of his life studing the Bible than he did on physics, calculus, and gravity.

The Bible is perfectly consistent. God is in control of His creation to a greater extent than a virtual reality simulation is under the control of its creator. Nothing is impossible if you control the simulator.

Can I prove that? No. But to claim that it can't be true after seeing all the other amazing things that indeed are clearly true, is the ultimate exercise in your own version of "faith". Faith in the assumption that the easily observable is all that there there is.

Better be sure of that. :o)

No, my first and foremost objection is simply that the source material, The Bible, is a work of fiction and the God character depicted within cannot possibly exist. A fictional character cannot be in control of anything in objective reality. Studying The Bible is a complete waste of time because it reveals itself as pure fiction in the very first chapter.

Nothing is impossible, you say? Can fire be frozen? Can a sphere be sharp? No, because these qualities contradict the definition of the object itself. God's supposed qualities of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience are self-contradictory and thus he cannot be any more real than dry water or a flat mountain.

Is there not perhaps a straw man/god or a number of straw people involved in your thinking and rebuttals? This seem a little shallow and simplistic an interpretation to a far more complex topic for me.

No strawman at all. Just the God character as described in The Bible.

Fervent applause to you for shaking it! Says a lot about your intelligence and honorable character.

Here's some stuff about what Archimedes and others have said about being able to move the world if you can find the fulcrum and have a long-enough lever: https://www.math.nyu.edu/~crorres/Archimedes/Lever/LeverQuotes.html

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