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Refuting Theist Arguments - Why Religion is Delusional

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Published on Jul 18, 2007

Refuting Theist Arguments -- Why Religion is Inherently Delusional

Many theists get upset when I say that religion is a system of delusions, or when I say that there is a taboo against criticizing mass delusions that are in the form of religion.

In this video I will explain why religions (i.e. systems that hold a belief in one or more supernatural forces) are inherently delusional.
Let us start out by examining a set of criteria for determining if a belief is delusional.

Karl Jaspers, a German psychiatrist who had a strong influence on modern psychiatry, defined a delusion by three criteria:

-1) Certainty (held with absolute conviction)
-2) Incorrigible (not changeable by compelling counter-argument or proof to the contrary)
-3) Impossibility or falsity of context (implausible, bizarre, or patently untrue)

Let's see if religion meets the criteria:
-1) Religious individuals do hold their beliefs with absolute certainty.
For example: When asked what would make them become an atheist, many Christians say "nothing, because I have found god."
-2) There are compelling counter-arguments against religious belief (lack of proof, 'celestial teapot', etc.), and there is circumstantial evidence that would suggest that all religions were constructed by people.
-3) The belief in an omnipotent deity, or ANY supernatural force, is implausible (there is ZERO evidence to even suggest that supernatural forces exist), and bizarre (yet again, purely magical forces are quite a bizarre notion).

As we can see, religious belief clearly meets Jaspers' criteria for delusion.
Let's examine a more simplistic dictionary definition:

Delusion: 1. The act of deluding or state of being deluded. 2. A false belief or opinion.
Delude: To deceive the mind or judgment of.
-American Heritage Dictionary (fourth edition)

Convincing oneself that a belief is true when there is no proof for it, and, in fact, there is circumstantial evidence against it, is deceiving the mind and judgment thereof.
Yet again, religion meets the criteria for delusion.

Now, I will explain why I say that there is a taboo against criticizing religious belief.
Let's examine the DMS-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition) criteria for delusion (p. 765).

"A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.
The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture (e.g. it is not an article of religious faith)."

The DSM-IV criteria clearly states that a belief that would usually be considered a delusion gets a special pass if it is held or accepted by other members of the culture.
This is evidence that mass delusions are accepted by society.

This means that, if I could convince all people within my subculture that a silver spoon is Satan, then that belief would not be considered a delusion by the DSM-IV criteria.
This is clearly absurd.
Why would a delusion suddenly NOT be considered a delusion simply because it is culturally accepted?

I find it absurd that delusions get special treatment if they are mass delusions.
Why is it acceptable for a million people to all have the same delusion, but it is not acceptable for one individual to have a different delusion?
Why does society protect mass delusions from criticism?

It is time to admit that a delusion is no less of a delusion simply because many people suffer from it.
It is time to stop giving mass delusions special treatment.

In response to this explanation, some theists will say something to the effect of:
"There are highly intelligent scientists who are religious, are you calling them delusional?"
Yes, they are delusional.

Faith and religious belief is often compartmentalized.
An otherwise highly intelligent individual can still be delusional.
Pointing out that someone is delusional is, in no way, calling them stupid.

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