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Are Christians Delusional?


R. S. Martin
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I have a problem calling religious people delusional. With my Grandma, when she was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's, I saw what a truly delusional person is like. She was hallucinating and actually saw and heard people/voices the rest of us didn't. Religious people who are not mentally disabled in some way can differentiate between dreams/hallucinations and their religious gods. When she was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's, my grandmother couldn't. There are other mental illnesses that work in a similar fashion.

 

Christians can also differentiate between the real world and the religious world of aboriginal peoples they are studying. Words like imagination are used because imagination is to some extent under the conscious control of the will. Delusions, dreams, and hallucinations are not. The average Christian is in control of his or her thoughts regarding God, angels, etc. They can decide whether or not to take their religious beliefs into the real world.

 

The Abrahamic religions believe God intended for religion to be taken into the real world and to be acted upon in the real world. That is a choice or conviction. It is a conscious thing. We might say, as they do of aboriginal religion, that they have deluded themselves into thinking God said so. But by that statement it is understood by all involved that on some level it was a conscious act of the will.

 

In contrast, when my grandmother reached out to touch a face no one but she could see, she was also bringing her perception of the immaterial into the real world. But in her case, she was incapable of differentiating between the empty air toward which she was reaching and her inner hallucination. Not so for the average Chrisian.

 

The average Chrisian may regularly speak to, hold conversations with, and reach out to touch empty air where he or she imagines to see a person. But that Chrisian will be able to tell you that he/she was praying or whatever. They know the difference between the two worlds and/or activities. The person whose brain malfunctions is incapable of doing that. This being the case, I think we exCs are delusional if we really believe that Christians cannot differentiate or if we accuse them of being delusional.

 

Here is wikipedia's article on delusion. I see that the word can be used with reference to fanciful but false beliefs and it would be possible to categorize religious belief as fanciful and/or false. The problem is that we cannot prove it. Also, I think the connotations of the word normally mean mentally unsound. Most Christians are not mentally unsound when it comes to things like driving, working in construction or food preparation--none of which mentally unsound people could competently perform with any consistency.

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Yes, some christians are delusional. The ones that force away their doubts, the ones that never or almost never have them, the ones that let their children suffer horrendously, believing that prayer alone will cure what ills them, the ones that are certain that they hear voices, or that their actions are directed by an unseen hand, or think they are not in control when they speak in tongues. No doubt. I think this does not apply to most christians, though, because most of them will got to the damn hospital when that cough persists, or entertain, if only for a moment, the lingering doubts they have. Many don't even really believe what they believe in, as has been pointed out elsewhere.

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I have to agree with Ruby, I find overuse of the terms "delusional", "insane", "retarded", etc. to be both insulting and demeaning. It only fosters more division and ill-feeling.

 

Most Christians are normal, rational people. They are able to live effectively in the day-to-day modern world. I think it's terribly rude to call them "delusional" simply because they believe one thing and we don't.

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Yes, some christians are delusional. The ones that force away their doubts, the ones that never or almost never have them, the ones that let their children suffer horrendously, believing that prayer alone will cure what ills them, the ones that are certain that they hear voices, or that their actions are directed by an unseen hand, or think they are not in control when they speak in tongues.

 

Dhampir, I don't think you read the entire post. Read it again, esp. paragraphs 4 and 5.

 

Christian parents who trust prayer to heal a seriously ill child and do not take the child for medical aid are seriously misguided and may be guilty of child neglect. However, they can hardly plead being mentally unsound when/if it comes to a court case. I would hate having a judge apply the word delusional to them at that point because it would indicate unsound mind. I think you agree with me.

 

I understand that a person has lost some control when speaking in tongues. However, the person normally makes a conscious decision to speak in tongues. That could be compared to the perfectly normal person who decides to get drunk. While the person is drunk that person has little control over what he or she does. We would not say the person is mentally unsound or delusional.

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We as a species with our big brain have something that other species don't have, imagination. I would not use the term delusional, but I would say imagination. We have the ability to imagine things as real even though they are not.

I can imagine that little faeries are cleaning my house when I'm not home all I want, but the reality is there will still be dishes in the sink. Christians simply ignore the dirty dishes then blame the devil for the ants.

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Well, I haven't known any pure-bred fundies face to face (other than short conversations with them on a few occasions), so one might decide that I can't state an informed opinion...

 

...however, with the total fanatics methinks "delusional" at least isn't that far from the truth. But yes, most christians in the world may believe some odd things but are perfectly sane apart from that.

 

(Time to state again that in 99 % of all cases where I read someone cursing "christians", here and elsewhere, I subconsciously replace the word with "fundies" :HaHa:

Same goes for my rants against "christians". If not explicitly stated otherwise, feel free to substitute "fundies" in there. And mostly I try to use "morontheists" anyway ;) )

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Not sure I agree with you there, Ruby, but at the moment, I am too fatigued to really debate the issue. As it happens, just reading this, and the provided Wikipedia link is far more effort than I feel up to. At any rate, I was reading and I came by this: "Delusions do not necessarily have to be false or 'incorrect inferences about external reality'.[2] Some religious or spiritual beliefs (such as 'I believe in the existence of God') by their nature may not be falsifiable, and hence cannot be described as false or incorrect, no matter whether the person holding these beliefs was diagnosed as delusional or not. [3]"

 

It's not as if plenty of people aren't unflinchingly devoted to a belief, and it's certainly not like we can so much choose to believe anything, so much as force it on ourselves. To say that no christian is delusional, and delusional based upon their slavish devotion to their particular form of god-belief, such as in the case of the parents (criminal and negligent though they may regardless be), would to my mind be going a bit far. It also seems like the term delusion is being used as though the condition itself is far more serious, or perhaps more accurately, detrimental to ones ability to function. Obviously though, certain christian delusions are. Like the parents. Or the crusades. Or the idea that the 50's was a golden era of christian purity, or reconstructionism.

 

Note also, that I said that that doesn't apply to most christians, not that any would admit to it. I also think hallucination refers to something more specific.

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When a society of people believe in imaginary friends that will either send you to heaven or hell, that is a dellussion not based on any evidence. Hence, they are delussional. It's not the same as calling them retarted or idiotic.

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What would you call an adult who still belived that Santa comes down the chimeny and delivers presents? What do you call someone who is convinced that they are hearing Napolean talk to them in thier head? What do you call people who belive that when they die they catch a ride on a spaceship hidden in a comet? Now how is any of that different than beliving in Christian fantasies, beliving god talks to them and answers thier prayers, and that they go to a magic happy land when they die?

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We as a species with our big brain have something that other species don't have, imagination. I would not use the term delusional, but I would say imagination. We have the ability to imagine things as real even though they are not.

 

In fact, a lot of animals display superstitious behavior that is eerily similiar to that of humans. One experiment (I think by B.F. Skinner, but I'm not sure) involved a group of pigeons. Basically the pigeons were placed in a cage for a few minutes each day. There was a hopper filled with food that would swing forward every 15 seconds. The pigeons did not know that the hopper would swing forward regardless of what they did, and so they started to repeat a series of rituals in order to summon the hopper. They thought that by doing these rituals, the hopper would come forward again. The rituals included turning three times, pecking the cage twice, and other things like that. Humans do this too. Christians believe that by praying they can influence events. When the events happen anyway, they attribute it to prayer. When it doesn't, they castigate themselves for "not praying the right way" or, the classic, "It's Gawd's will."

 

But the difference between pigeons and humans is that while pigeons invent rituals, humans go a step further and imagine a big cruel God who is intensely interested in their sex lives. One humans can have religion.

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Cooler heads prevail, and I have to side with Ruby and Sage on the question.

Most xians aren't delusional in the sense that they've lost contact with reality. Some fanatics certainly have, and they're the ones that make shocking news, like Andrea Yates, for example. The majority of xians are normal people who live their lives very much in touch with the mundane reality of it; they're good workers, good parents, overall dealing with everyday life in a healthy way, and just plain everyday people like the rest of us. Their religion for them plays in the background and gives them an anchor in a way, but they deal with life in a real and rational way as it comes to them. That's not so bad IMO.

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Cooler heads prevail, and I have to side with Ruby and Sage on the question.

Most xians aren't delusional in the sense that they've lost contact with reality. Some fanatics certainly have, and they're the ones that make shocking news, like Andrea Yates, for example. The majority of xians are normal people who live their lives very much in touch with the mundane reality of it; they're good workers, good parents, overall dealing with everyday life in a healthy way, and just plain everyday people like the rest of us. Their religion for them plays in the background and gives them an anchor in a way, but they deal with life in a real and rational way as it comes to them. That's not so bad IMO.

 

I know people who will change their religion before they allow a loved one to die. I suggest that most people who hold onto their religion do so because it has not seriously interfered with life as they know it.

 

As for adults who believe Santa comes down the chimney at Christmas, if they are in touch with reality for all other matters I wouldn't worry.

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Anyone who believes literally that snakes and donkeys literally talked, that there was such a thing as a virgin birth and that someone rose from the dead after having been gone for three days, yes they are delusional. Especially if they brainwash their kids from birth into believing that nonsense. Not to mention, believing that they are horrible, evil, sinful, and unclean people simply by being human, and that they need a mystical savior deity to save them from an eternity of hellfire.

 

I don't care how rational they are in all other aspects of their life. They are delusional. Is it politically correct? No. Can you say that at work without getting fired? Probably not, unless you work in a company with a bunch of other atheists. But it is irrational and delusional to literally believe in those things and then to try and get other people to believe you when you have no proof other than propaganda and a 2,000 year-old book.

 

Not to say that all Christians are like this, but the fundamentalists, the ones who take everything literally, certainly are. I grew up around quite a few of them.

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Cooler heads prevail, and I have to side with Ruby and Sage on the question.

Most xians aren't delusional in the sense that they've lost contact with reality. Some fanatics certainly have, and they're the ones that make shocking news, like Andrea Yates, for example. The majority of xians are normal people who live their lives very much in touch with the mundane reality of it; they're good workers, good parents, overall dealing with everyday life in a healthy way, and just plain everyday people like the rest of us. Their religion for them plays in the background and gives them an anchor in a way, but they deal with life in a real and rational way as it comes to them. That's not so bad IMO.

 

I'm going to have to stay on the side of the dissenters here. I agree that most xians are not as delusional as Andrea Yates. That does not mean that they are not deluded though. If you believe in virgin birth, dead men rising, that a sky daddy watches your every move and sees your every thought, if you believe that prayers are answered, then you are delusional.

 

The difference between the average xian and the Andrea Yates types is the difference between full blown alcoholics and functional alcoholics. Both are causing harm to themselves and others, but it's a question of degrees.

 

American society would be leaps better if people quit relying on prayer in their lives and faced reality - just to name one issue that their delusions raise.

 

This whole "I'm ok, you're ok" is too close to political correctness for me and it keeps us from addressing the truth of the situation.

 

JMO

 

Also, I agree with Am here. My parents are wonderful people and they are quite functional in society. Nevertheless, their delusions caused them to teach me the doctrine of hell, which gave me night terrors into my early 20s. They also instilled in me the idea that sex was somehow dirty unless it was performed with that one someone that god chose for you. This caused in me a sexual repression that I still struggle with today.

 

No, xians are delusional and it is not a harmless delusion.

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I know people who will change their religion before they allow a loved one to die. I suggest that most people who hold onto their religion do so because it has not seriously interfered with life as they know it.

 

As for adults who believe Santa comes down the chimney at Christmas, if they are in touch with reality for all other matters I wouldn't worry.

 

Would you trust your child with an adult who seriously belived in Santa coming down the chimeny at Xmas even if that was thier only bit of being out of touch with reality? Unfortunatly, Christians usually dont just have ONE just one break with reality. They tend to belive in all kinds of insane shit. Angels, devils, heaven & hell, prayer, talking animals, invisible sky daddys, and the list just goes on and on. Would you trust your child to someone belonging to the cult of Puff the Magic Dragon, who told them that monsters live in thier closets and under thier beds at night and would rip them to shreds if they didnt pray to Puff the Magic Dragon? You see, there is NO difference at all between what Christians belive and the cult of Puff the Magic Dragon. Both are equally absurd.

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I know people who will change their religion before they allow a loved one to die. I suggest that most people who hold onto their religion do so because it has not seriously interfered with life as they know it.

 

Exactly.

Also fits, among other groups. the majority of German christians (CINOs, really :) )

 

As for adults who believe Santa comes down the chimney at Christmas, if they are in touch with reality for all other matters I wouldn't worry.

 

Indeed. This belief may be silly, even technically delusional, but in and of itself it's harmless. As long as this is the case, who cares? ;)

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Also, I agree with Am here. My parents are wonderful people and they are quite functional in society. Nevertheless, their delusions caused them to teach me the doctrine of hell, which gave me night terrors into my early 20s. They also instilled in me the idea that sex was somehow dirty unless it was performed with that one someone that god chose for you. This caused in me a sexual repression that I still struggle with today.

 

No, xians are delusional and it is not a harmless delusion.

 

Right. When you teach small children that they are evil, awful, sinful people simply because they are alive and that they need a mystical deity to save them from eternal torture, and you reinforce that on a weekly basis at least, more if those small children are going to a church school, it's going to lead to a lifetime of self hatred. I know from experience.

 

Brainwashing anyone under 18 should be banned as child abuse, but it probably never will be.

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Delusional does not mean insane or retarded. It nails religious thinking squarely on the head. Delusional merely means having a fixed idea that's false.

There you go.

 

de·lude /dɪˈlud/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[di-lood] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

–verb (used with object), -lud·ed, -lud·ing.

1. to mislead the mind or judgment of; deceive: His conceit deluded him into believing he was important.

2. Obsolete. to mock or frustrate the hopes or aims of.

3. Obsolete. to elude; evade.

 

de·lu·sion /dɪˈluÊ’É™n/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[di-loo-zhuhn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

–noun

1. an act or instance of deluding.

2. the state of being deluded.

3. a false belief or opinion: delusions of grandeur.

4. Psychiatry. a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact: a paranoid delusion.

[Origin: 1375–1425; late ME < L délÅ«siÅn- (s. of délÅ«siÅ), equiv. to délÅ«s(us) (ptp. of délÅ«dere; see delude) + -iÅn- -ion]

 

—Related forms

de·lu·sion·al, de·lu·sion·ar·y, adjective

 

 

 

If I truly believed cats came from the moon, but otherwise had a firm grasp on reality for everything non-cat related, then you could safely call me delusional.

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Guest lori4443

You could say Christians are not delusional in the true sense of the word but yes, in man on the street sense, I think you could. Think of the people being killed in the name of religion and who were killed throughout history. If something you believe is so preposterous that it would cause you to believe you had justification in killing someone else because they don’t have the same believe system, I most definitely call that delusional. Now to my knowledge, Christians do not kill in the name of their God these days but they have done so historically. They do however cause divisions and disassociation between family members and that is a high price to pay. I would say that any belief system that has the power to tear apart the natural bonds that family members have for each other, then yes, I would call that belief system delusional because it does do great harm to others. Think of all the millions of people who are in torment because of the fear of hell. Life is hard enough as it is and then you put the fear of hell in a person and it can be enough to break them. I know because I went through that stage and it was no joke. I almost lost it. If society was filled with people such as ourselves at this forum (we are nice and caring people) I bet it would be beyond belief how much better the world would be. The point is, in my view, when you think of all the harm religious beliefs can cause to people, then I say delusional is a sound term.

 

:shrug:

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You could say Christians are not delusional in the true sense of the word but yes, in man on the street sense, I think you could.

 

How are christians not in the true sense of the word? I think christianity fits quite nicely into the dictionary definition i cited above. I think the only way christianity is not delusional is, as RS pointed out above, it can't yet be proven false. Creationism and ID, on the other hand, are truly indisputably delusional.

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Can one prove that someone's imaginary friend called Moreton isn't real?

 

I don't see how one cannot say they're delusional on some level... they're just not delusional enough to be anti-psychotics...

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Grandpa Harley, I enjoyed reading your comments on the Main Blog. It's good to see you're on the forums, too.

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Guest lori4443

I looked up the word delusional and it said "believing something that is false”. Well I guess from our point of view, Christian beliefs are false and therefore delusions. Come to think of it, I’d like to ask a psychiatrist why Christian beliefs are not considered delusional. Like someone said earlier, it must be a matter of degrees but that seems like such a huge gray area. Any psychiatrists on this forum? :scratch:

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