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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.

 

 

Ruby I want to thank you for writing something so even handed, well thought out and fair. I sometimes think we Exers are as guilty of the emotionalism we accuse Christians of. Now considering what some of us have been through some emotionalism is to be expected, but sometimes it seems to degenerate into baseless name calling.

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Ruby I want to thank you for writing something so even handed, well thought out and fair. I sometimes think we Exers are as guilty of the emotionalism we accuse Christians of. Now considering what some of us have been through some emotionalism is to be expected, but sometimes it seems to degenerate into baseless name calling.

 

Thank you, Purple. Yes, I also think some of the expressions are ways of venting more than level-headed analysis. I believe the venting is justified and since we are here to support people as they work through the issues of deconvertion it seems appropriate to accept it as such. That is one thing I am learning from this thread. Thanks for pointing it out and thereby confirming my own theory.

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This has become an interesting discussion. Based on the responses so far, I would suggest that we're seeing a spectrum of opinion on the delusional nature of religious belief. I would still maintain that the majority of xians, that is the mainstream, really don't give too much thought to whether jebus really walked on water, raised the dead, or was born of a virgin. I trust the majority enough to think that they accept this lore as unverified tales, but for whatever reason still identify themselves as xians. But for those fanatical fundies who center their religious lives around beliefs that can be described as nothing but fantasy and magic-think, then...oh yeah. They build their everyday lives around a delusion, no question.

 

I would suggest the next step in inquiry would be, At what point does an attachment to religion become maladaptive? Where is the borderline between the point of a cultural/social/community/coping identification and a maladaptive, destructive, dangerous force?

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A very interesting thread here...

 

As I was reading through it, I was thinking that there were valid observations made on both sides, and it really depended on what exactly "delusional" was. Then HuaiDan produced a rather persuasive dictionary definition, and I have to believe that anyone who really believes the claims of xianity does fit that definition of delusional.

 

Are xians delusional in the sense of experiencing vivid hallucinations, clinical psychosis, or Alzheimer's style delusions? No. And I must confess ignorance as to whether there is a specialized medical/psychological definition for delusional reserved for the mentally ill. Still, (although this is pure speculation which I cannot support) I wouldn't be surprised if there was a slightly higher incidence of psychotic style delusion among xians.

 

And I do know xians who have insisted that they've seen and spoken with Jesus, and insisted that their experience was literal and tangible, just as though they were talking to you or me. Two, in fact: one was my mother and one was an instance of someone preaching in a church.

 

In both cases, I think that they were telling brazen lies, attempting to scare me (or the congregation, as the case may be) into "getting saved" by fabricating something that compelling and reasoning that the ends justify the means. If they were being truthful, which is possible but less likely, then they were hallucinating and I'd say they were delusional (even if only mildly or transiently so) even by Ruby's definition.

 

Of course those who tell of their conversations with god as though they were reading a transcript are simply attributing their own thoughts to god and are delusional by the dictionary definition above, but not comparable to advanced Alzheimer's or clinical psychosis.

 

Now the Santa Claus analogy--how would I react to some adult who believed from the very core of his belief system in a literal Santa Claus from the North Pole? It really is no different from a belief in god. There's ONE difference, though: the indoctrination is different. Our culture perpetuates, indoctrinates, and propagandizes this god in a way that other delusions are not, even Santa Claus. Even though there is no more basis to believe in god than in Santa, there does seem to be a reason why so many people swallow one fabrication but not the other.

 

As for Piprus' query: "At what point does an attachment to religion become maladaptive?" I don't think there is a clear line: generally speaking, the greater and more fanatical the attachment, the more maladaptive.

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I would suggest the next step in inquiry would be, At what point does an attachment to religion become maladaptive? Where is the borderline between the point of a cultural/social/community/coping identification and a maladaptive, destructive, dangerous force?

 

Here is my response.

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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:

 

It's because of political correctness. It is not politically correct to call a religious person delusional, even if they are, hence modern medical practicioners are unwilling to see them as such. Not to mention that many psychiatrists are Christian, and some are even Christians of the fundy variety.

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I trust the majority enough to think that they accept this lore as unverified tales, but for whatever reason still identify themselves as xians.

 

If you are talking about once per year mass attendees, then I may tend to agree with you, but if you are talking about once, twice, three times per week service attenders, I would say you are way off on this one. I attended the whole range of mainstream protestant denoms and non denoms during the 20+ years I was an xian. These guys were not in the category you would refer to as fanatical, but they absolutely believed the basic stories of walking on water, turning water into wine, etc... They also taught their kids the hell doctrine, relied on prayer as much as common sense, and believed themselves to be unworthy without the blood of christ. These people made up 1 out of 10 people in the community I grew up in, an average American community in the NW. Another 1 out of 10 people in the community I grew up in believed with their whole heart that Joe Smith was a prophet and went to temple ceremonies, and believed the basics of the Mormon faith.

 

2 out of 10 people are not outliers. These are seriously deluded people living in the mainstream. Their delusions cause them to spend their money frivolously on church tithing and to do psychological harm to their children to name but a few major issues.

 

Why is it not ok to call these people deluded? It's perfectly rational to do so.

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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.

 

 

Vix, I'm trying real hard to read your post objectively. I am finding it seriously difficult because you consistently misspell the word "believe." That is only one of the words you misspell. All the while you are telling me whom I should trust. I would not trust my child with you as spelling teacher. Your grammar isn't great either. I am sure you have valid reasons for this, but you're just not doing a great job in convincing me that you have a valid argument.

 

I live in a town with a church on nearly every street corner; population several hundred thousand. I live in a town where a fundy optometrist takes the liberty to evangelize me. I live in a town where you can leave your stuff unattended for an hour and return to find your wallet, etc. intact. One day at school I left my wallet in a public washroom. Two hours later I discovered it was missing. It was no longer in the washroom where I had left it. I checked in security and it had been turned in--intact. I don't know what proportion of the population is Christian, but there must be a significant proportion.

 

In this town you don't tell people you're an atheist. But if you do tell, you expect to be respected for your right to believe as you see fit. Jews, Muslims, and Hindus walk the streets and ride the buses with their religious gear. Atheists and Pagans look like anybody else. In this town you don't talk about religion except in carefully defined times and spaces, or mutually agreed-upon situations.

 

Would I trust my child with a person whose religious views I don't know? I would. Well, actually, I might ask in the interview just to get some sense of who I am talking with. My parents trusted me and my siblings to teachers whose religious beliefs differed sharply from their own. They taught us the differences between what we believe and what others believe. Any time we picked up a weird idea we could ask our parents whether it agreed with our beliefs. Our parents were also alert to pick up when we talked about things that did not agree with our beliefs. I feel they did an excellent job in raising children to follow in their belief system. I'm the only one of eleven who left.

 

They failed where Christianity failed as a whole--in not providing enough answers. I don't think this is their fault. I stayed with their religion into middle age. I also know that my questions about religion were not instigated by people who believed very differently from us. How do I know this? Because my questions started BEFORE I went to school. I grew up with the sense that there are all kinds of religions in the world but that there was one specific belief system that we adhered to.

 

If I noticed that my babysitter was evangalizing my child, I would have a conversation with her. If she did not leave off I would probably look for another babysitter. I would not want anyone talking to my child about going to hell for not believing the right things. Some Christians can be trusted in this but others cannot. The parent-child relationship has to be such that a child will automatically disregard any instructions not to tell Mom or Dad about stuff. If I remember correctly, I would ask my mother if it is right that we mayn't talk to her about certain things. You can guess the answer.

 

Back to the question about all Christians being delusional. No they are not. At least not on a level that interferes with their ability to live orderly lives. Our public systems such as the public transportation system, the educational system, the financial institutions, the law-enforcement, the postal system, the hospitals, the stores--everything functions with punctual and reliable regularity. The glitches are the exceptions.

 

This town boasts two major universities, which include a whole batch of church colleges and a seminary. These are liberal Christian institutions. This is where I have spent the past nine years. I had been told that city people are worldly and selfish and have no morals. I was prepared to find out what people believe who don't believe in God. I found these people were sincere Christians.

 

That made me rethink my own position. After a good eight years in these Christian institutions, I deconverted--not because of who these Christians were but because despite them being really good people with strong humanist values, they failed to answer the one crucial question: Why did Jesus have to die. I decided to stop lying and confess my inability to believe something that made no sense.

 

I would certainly trust my child with most of the Christians I got to know. Let's see. Someone said when he says Christian he automatically means fundy.

 

QUESTION: Why would we not say fundy if that is what we mean?

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QUESTION: Why would we not say fundy if that is what we mean?

 

Side effect of many of us living in cultures where "religion" = "jebus cult" for most practical purposes? :scratch:

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Back to the question about all Christians being delusional. No they are not. At least not on a level that interferes with their ability to live orderly lives.

 

I think in my responses in both threads on this subject I have shown otherwise. Orderly or ordinary are relative terms. If they produce children with neurotic fears of hell, if the are members of an irrational voting block, to just name a couple of major issues, their lives could use some major tweaking. I think your reluctance to call them deluded is an over application of the concept of political correctness.

 

When the delusions of xians stop spilling over onto their children's lives and into my life, I will stop vociferously pointing out how deluded they actually are.

 

Your examples of what works in the city you live in are not valid examples of why xians are not deluded. It would be more accurate to say that your town has an efficient public transportation system and a university system in spite of the fact that a certain percentage of your town suffers from delusions; in part because their delusions are not utterly debilitating.

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Back to the question about all Christians being delusional. No they are not. At least not on a level that interferes with their ability to live orderly lives.

 

I think in my responses in both threads on this subject I have shown otherwise.

 

And your responses have seemed outrageously prejudiced. Just because one or many sets of Christians have been abusive does not make ALL Christians abusive. I think I have proved that but you refuse to accept my honest report about the people I know, and whom you have never encountered. It is not possible for me to categorize all Christians as fundies because I know so many really good people who are anything but fundy but they do identify as Christian. In fact, some of them deny the fundies the right to call themselves Christian, just as some of the fundies would not recognize these liberal Christians as worthy the name Christian. It's just plain wrong to categorize all professing Christians into the same category.

 

Orderly or ordinary are relative terms. If they produce children with neurotic fears of hell,

 

They don't! Maybe you cannot conceive of such Christians but they exist in large numbers. I cannot help it that you choose to live in a part of the world where you don't get to see this kind of Christian. But that does not make them nonexistent.

 

if the are members of an irrational voting block,

 

They're not! Can't you get it into your head that the USA does not constitute The World nor Americans the entire human race? Aren't you the guy who is living in India or someplace totally away from the US? Surely, if you give it two thoughts you will know that the US does not constitute The World.

 

I think your reluctance to call them deluded is an over application of the concept of political correctness.

 

Then your thinking is wrong. Misinformed. Misguided. Whatever the case, it's WRONG!

 

When the delusions of xians stop spilling over onto their children's lives and into my life, I will stop vociferously pointing out how deluded they actually are.

 

So long as you are talking exclusively about fundies and I am talking about the entire Christian population on earth, you are I are not talking about the same thing. I think there is something wrong when a person refuses to look beyond their own front door yet presumes to speak for humanity as a whole. One of your delusions seems to be that the one version of Christianity you experienced in the US is THE version of Christianity. I think I have stated many times that I am familiar with that kind of Christianity but I refuse to lump them all in the same lump. Those who are open-minded and tolerant do not deserve to be lumped with the fundies. They deserve to be respected for their open-mindedness and tolerance for differing beliefs. I am talking about people with whom I have been closely associated for four years. I know what I am talking about. You suggest that I don't. That is not okay.

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Your examples of what works in the city you live in are not valid examples of why xians are not deluded.

 

I have not given any reasons for why they are not deluded; I have simply given examples that prove that the people are not deluded or detached from reality. Why do you have such a serious need to label Christians as deluded? Why do you insist on making words mean things they don't?

 

It would be more accurate to say that your town has an efficient public transportation system and a university system in spite of the fact that a certain percentage of your town suffers from delusions; in part because their delusions are not utterly debilitating.

 

You need to realize that these systems work because of the people who work in them and operate them. The minute you divorce people from the system you get crazy conclusions. No system works more efficiently than the people who operate them. I will not have you denigrate the people I know whom you have never seen.

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I have not given any reasons for why they are not deluded; I have simply given examples that prove that the people are not deluded or detached from reality. Why do you have such a serious need to label Christians as deluded? Why do you insist on making words mean things they don't?

 

You need to realize that these systems work because of the people who work in them and operate them. The minute you divorce people from the system you get crazy conclusions. No system works more efficiently than the people who operate them. I will not have you denigrate the people I know whom you have never seen.

Meh. Since for some reason I couldn't stay the fuck away from this topic, I'm going to go ahead and volunteer this:
delusion

 

noun

1. (psychology) an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary

2. a mistaken or unfounded opinion or idea; "he has delusions of competence"; "his dreams of vast wealth are a hallucination"

3. the act of deluding; deception by creating illusory ideas

 

WordNet® 2.1, © 2005 Princeton University

And this:
a false belief, especially as a symptom of mental illness

Example: The young man was suffering from delusions.

When you insist that christians cannot be delusional because they are not detrimentally disturbed by said delusion, you misapply, or perhaps misapprehend the word. The simple fact is, we are all prone to delusion, many of us here may in fact be under one or more at the moment, and most of us have likely experienced one or more at some point outside of the delusion that is unsubstantiated belief in and acceptance as fact any gods of specific nature, demons, angels, the power of prayer as greater than mundane powers, and the refusal of proven natural entities that contradict said delusion.

 

As stated, I don't think most christians fall under this label. Why? Because for more christians than not (not that there aren't a whole lot, like tens of millions, that do), any such belief is conditional. But there's no denying it-- any time you've talked to someone who fervently believes that the Ouija board pointer actually moves of it's own volition even when you explain the physics involved with making that little pointer make coherent messages, or when Joe Rogan firmly and devastatingly explains to a guy why it's unlikely that a rock formation viewed from a satellite on a mountain outcropping is not only a boat, but the boat from the biblical story of Noah's ark... ...Joe Rogan and Noah's Ark... And the guy still insists that what he's seen must be exactly that, just because he was conditioned to think it was beforehand!

 

The Ouija board freak and the dumbass from the Joe Rogan video are both probably not really dumbasses. They aren't detached from reality, they're just detached from that part. They function just fine in their daily lives, and their particular delusions don't cause them to break down-- except when it's addressed directly. Then they do break down, they lose their ability to reason, get caught in feedback loops of responding with an unchanged version of the same information they just gave which was shot down etc., and the only way to fix that is to get them to acknowledge their delusion, which gets more difficult the subtler and more deeply ingrained it is, and when the person is mentally ill (as it is noted that delusion by itself is not necessarily an illness), even that will not work-- as far as I know.

 

When you see "Are christians delusional?" you seem to see "Are christians mentally ill?" or perhaps "are christians severely mentally ill?" I get this from the example you posted with your grandmother and her hallucinations and subsequent posts. But that just isn't the case-- I mean sure, it can be, and probably is in the more extreme instances. So, if delusion is too strong for you, perhaps you would be better served using the term cognitive dissonance, to describe the disparity between the average christian's ability to function and their apparent inability to see their religion for what it is, or at least audit it properly, as they do with most all their other beliefs, to determine whether or not it's worth holding. Just note that if it is not a form of delusion itself, then it certainly is a facilitator, and the end result is elementary.

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And your responses have seemed outrageously prejudiced.

 

This is an ad hom that doesn't adress one point I made.

 

And to be clear, the word fundy is confusing. I have already clarified that I'm talking about xians that attend mainstream denoms at least once per week.

 

They don't! Maybe you cannot conceive of such Christians but they exist in large numbers..

 

No, it seems to me you can't conceive of the fact that there are large numbers of individuals out there who do exemplify my description. I'm not discussing those who do not. It seems ridiculous to discuss xian beliefs and then limit that discussion to those who cherry pick their own religion to the point that most members of mainstream xianity would not recognize their belief system. Again, since when does xianity include those like Current Christian, a guy who disagrees with most practicing xians. The key word is practicing.

 

And if you wish to discuss world xianity, then you had better be more clear. Xianity outside the US is an entirely different animal. If you wish to discuss, for example, Catholics in Italy, then yes, I absolutely agree, they are for the most part not deluded. If you wish to discuss Catholics here in India, then I would argue that they are deluded beyond the point which would be considered healthy by an objective psychiatrist.

 

Since most members of this board are in N America, I thought it was rather clear which group of xians we were discussing.

 

Then your thinking is wrong. Misinformed. Misguided. Whatever the case, it's WRONG!

 

I would rather argue that your thinking is tainted by emotionalism, but that's just me.

 

I am talking about the entire Christian population on earth

 

Quite an endeavor indeed. Also quite pointless.

 

And it's quite hilarious that you have no problem calling me deluded, a member who dares disagree with her goddess, yet you cannot bring yourself to call those who are obviosly deluded, deluded. Seems rather hypocritical don't you think?

 

I'm sure I suffer my own delusions. I have no problem with that.

 

I will from here on out refer to you as chip since you seem to have a rather large one on your shoulder.

 

You may now add me to the long and growing list of members here who have pissed you off by daring to disagree with you.

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I have not given any reasons for why they are not deluded; I have simply given examples that prove that the people are not deluded or detached from reality. Why do you have such a serious need to label Christians as deluded? Why do you insist on making words mean things they don't?

 

You are applying binary thinking to the term deluded. You seem to think that if someone is deluded that one cannot function in society. There are of course shades of grey in the world as there are levels of delusions. As has been shown already, one definition of deluded means that a person believes something which is not true. Christians, by the very definition of their name, believe something which is not true. Some just carry that belief further than others. You seem to think the word an insult, I just see it as calling it like it is.

 

And since Dhampir did such a great job rebuting this last remark, I'll not comment further.

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I think the apparent conflict of views in this thread is by and large about how different people apply words and the meaning we ascribe.

 

Delusions, although far from being confined to this or similar conditions, are often a characteristic of Schizophrenia. My experience of people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia is that this illness runs along a continuum much like any other and there are wide variations as to the extent of any symptoms and the impact of these on daily life.

 

Before working with/knowing anyone with schizophrenia would I have left one of my children in the care of someone who had been diagnosed with this illness - absolutely no. Would I now - yes. My decision as to whether or not someone would be an appropriate carer for my child would have nothing to do with their diagnosis because in 99.9 % of instances, schizophrenia says very little about a person's ability to care for a child. (Except when their particular delusion impacted a child they were caring for - on three occasions the 'delusional' aspect of people I've known with this illness has involved the same delusion - that of thinking that one of their children had been exchanged or substituted for another child, which did rule them out of being the primary carer)

 

I'd apply the same criteria to Christians - my decision as to whether or not they made appropriate carers for my children would have very little to do with beliefs that could be described as delusions. If I thought they'd sit my child down and start giving graphic accounts of the hell that awaited them if they didn't adopt a particular belief system, I wouldn't leave one of my children with them for five minutes. If I thought they believed in a literal hell and their response was to silently pray for my child's eternal soul whilst at the same time providing them with a loving and nurturing environment and would happily leave my children in their care. If I thought they'd tell my children about their beliefs if questioned, I would also not weight this against them, my decision would be made on the quality of the rest of the care they provide and their 'attitude'.

 

When I was a Christian did I hold some delusional beliefs? Yes. Did this impact on my life on a day to day basis? Yes and No. I studied, worked, lived, loved and functioned pretty much like everyone else around me irrespective of their particular belief systems. I love being around children and even at my craziest in terms of my religious beliefs, children were always safe and warmly nurtured in my care.

 

Did I struggle with aspects of my self esteem that I now view as being caused by a religion that had me pray each Sunday ...' I am not worthy so much to gather up the crumbs under Thy table but thou Oh Lord art merciful ....' yes.

 

But one of my closest friends struggles with self esteem issues also and she was raised in a totally non religious home where her Dad just told her she was stupid on a regular basis. I have to say it seems to be harder for her to get over it than it has been for me - because I've got a story about a story that explains mine away and she's finding it harder to formulate hers.

 

Could I have been described as a 'fundy' - yes and no. I certainly held some fundamentalist beliefs, they'd been there since childhood so I was brainwashed into them I guess - but they rarely sat comfortably with me. Did I ever think that people who didn't believe in Jesus deserved what was coming to them - when the real me gave it proper thought - never, never, never and it caused me all manner of pain whenever I let myself think about it, so a lot of the time I didn't think about it, just so that I could survive. My belief system was hugely inconsistent and compartmentalised and I found myself compelled to play hide and seek with my own cognitive dissonance for years.

 

Would the people here that I click with have liked me if they'd known me when I was a 'fundy'? When I had some 'delusional' beliefs? I like to think the answer is yes. In RL although I have sadly lost a handful of 'friends' who are further down the fundamentalist continuum than I ever was, most of my friendships have stayed the same. There is a 'core' me that doesn't seem to have changed.

 

Its not just that there are differences between 'Christians' and 'fundamentalists' - there is a world of difference between one person who could be labelled 'fundy' and the next fundamentalist thinker in the line. A lot of people who have some fundamentalist beliefs are not fundamentalist to the core and I see no reason to doubt that they couldn't be that same confused mix of ideas that I was (and I'm probably still a confused mix of ideas - just a different recipe these days!)

 

A solution to the concerns raised in the OP could be drawing a distinction between saying 'Christians' or even 'fundys' are delusional (which does seem to suggest this applies to all aspects of their being)' to saying, Christians hold some delusional beliefs.

 

The psychic/psychotic discussion is one I find interesting.

 

With schizophrenia and epilepsy featuring in the genes in my family - along with lots of reporting of religious experience AND amazing creativity, intelligence and artistic talent 'tis a mixed bag of blessing and curse! ;)

 

"Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness, provided the madness is given us by divine gift." - Socrates

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But the fact that many people have self-esteem issues stemming from religion, which is the root cause, makes it harmful. Low self-esteem can, and often does, lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide.

 

I also had a highly critical mother to boot, who used to tell me things like "nobody is ever going to love you" and "you're going straight to hell" often enough for me to internalize it. That certainly didn't help, but I have no doubt that religion also played a role in her critical nature. People are usually not outwardly critical without being inwardly critical of themselves as well.

 

That, and going to a fundy church school that made me confess regularly that I was "sinful and unclean" also did not help. Overall it was a toxic emotional environment, and I'm amazed that I'm sane. Well, mostly... :HaHa:

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Alice, thank you for a thoughtful and informational post. Your description of delusional versus deluded makes sense to me. It seems perhaps what makes the biggest difference in the opinions of this thread is based on how seriously we suffered from delusional beliefs, or perhaps what kind of "story" we told/tell ourselves about the impact of these delusional beliefs.

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Alice, thank you for a thoughtful and informational post. Your description of delusional versus deluded makes sense to me. It seems perhaps what makes the biggest difference in the opinions of this thread is based on how seriously we suffered from delusional beliefs, or perhaps what kind of "story" we told/tell ourselves about the impact of these delusional beliefs.

 

Good point. I'm willing to bet that a large percentage of Christians are actually atheists, agnostics, or deists in the closet. They go to church for the social life and to be accepted, but they don't literally believe in it. In church, they will pretend to for the sake of fitting in, but outside of the church setting, they're more willing to be honest.

 

However, I am convinced that the literalist, fundamentalist version of Christianity (and Abrahamic religions in general) is psychologically harmful. For one thing, reciting doctrine on at least a weekly basis that says that a person is "sinful and unclean" does not help either. It gets ingrained into people if they say it often enough and long enough. For another thing, having to give up things you like doing (such as listening to rock music or reading books you like if you go to a very fundy church) causes harm to one's self image. How can someone not be harmed by being someone they aren't? And being around critical, judgemental people on a regular basis is not good either.

 

I will be happy when fundy religion is a thing of the past, and people won't feel the need to pretend to believe in imaginary sky fairies in order to fit into society.

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Alice, thank you for a thoughtful and informational post. Your description of delusional versus deluded makes sense to me. It seems perhaps what makes the biggest difference in the opinions of this thread is based on how seriously we suffered from delusional beliefs, or perhaps what kind of "story" we told/tell ourselves about the impact of these delusional beliefs.

 

Got condescention?

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The dictionary definition is quite straightforward on the meaning of delusional. If one wants to change that definition to suit whatever emotional need he or she has have, then he or she, by necessity, is delusional because he or she stubbornly entertains a fixed false belief; ie, the belief that the word "delusional" means something that it does not, or that it doesn't mean something that it truly does.

 

I, and the great majority here, are fairly confident in stating that christianity is a false belief. Therefore, from the perspective of the free-minded and educated, christianity is a delusion, and its adherents are delusional. Can it be any simpler than that?

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I will be happy when fundy religion is a thing of the past, and people won't feel the need to pretend to believe in imaginary sky fairies in order to fit into society.

 

Whew! me too.

 

 

QUOTE(RubySera @ Mar 31 2007, 11:03 AM) post_snapback.gifAlice, thank you for a thoughtful and informational post. Your description of delusional versus deluded makes sense to me. It seems perhaps what makes the biggest difference in the opinions of this thread is based on how seriously we suffered from delusional beliefs, or perhaps what kind of "story" we told/tell ourselves about the impact of these delusional beliefs.

 

Got condescention?

 

I'm not sure what you mean. I am simply trying to figure out how anyone can equate regular Christians with truly delusional people like my grandmother. I notice that people here had widely varying experiences in Christianity and that they left Christianity for even more widely varying reasons. It seems your experience has left you with a conviction that Christians are delusional. You have the right to your own opinion.

 

Because delusion is normally related in some way to people who are mentally unsound and out of touch with concrete reality of this present life, I am unable to share your opinion. Someone on this thread--I don't remember who it was--said all I am proving is that the systems in my city work efficiently. I reminded people that systems work only as well as the people who work in them. I have not yet seen anyone acknowledge that I do have a point here. It seems people would rather rant and rave about delusional Christians. Since that is what this forum is for, that's okay.

 

However, since the systems I described for my city are standard for Western society, and since the Christian religion is Western society's dominant religion, it is illogical for me to hold to the opinion that Christians are of necessity delusional or mentally unsound. I am expressing what seems to be general consensus of our society regarding the meaning of the word "delusional." I think I have the right to do that.

 

Now for the argument that Christians wrote the dictionaries, hold on for a sec. Christians may well have written the dictionaries but Christians have rich and varied vocabularies when it comes to describing their enemies. Their dictionaries contain appropriate words for us to use to describe them. Delusional does not seem to me to be one of them. Misguided would seem much more appropriate to me. That is my position. To the best of my understanding, Alice's definitions jibe with the dictionaries, with the general consensus of society, and with reality. She provided insights that I lacked regarding the sublties of the various forms of the word, i.e. deluded versus delusional.

 

If you want to give new definitions to the word I guess you have that prerogative.

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The dictionary definition is quite straightforward on the meaning of delusional. If one wants to change that definition to suit whatever emotional need he or she has have, then he or she, by necessity, is delusional because he or she stubbornly entertains a fixed false belief; ie, the belief that the word "delusional" means something that it does not, or that it doesn't mean something that it truly does.

 

I, and the great majority here, are fairly confident in stating that christianity is a false belief. Therefore, from the perspective of the free-minded and educated, christianity is a delusion, and its adherents are delusional. Can it be any simpler than that?

Point well made. If we're all on common ground as to the definition of delusional to use as the standard, then, I would have to agree that those who believe in christianity are delusional in their thinking. Perhaps then it would be better to ask, at what point does this culturally-accepted delusion become dysfunctional? And we certainly have examples of that, where adhering to christian beliefs has resulted in the abuse or murder of children, attacks on minorities, frivolous legal cases, ill-conceived political initiatives (like creationism in public schools), election of incompetent boobs to public office (like President You Know Who), and so forth.

 

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!" (Puck)

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Piprus said:

 

If we're all on common ground as to the definition of delusional to use as the standard,

 

I don't think we are.

 

From Answers.com:

 

de·lu·sion (dĭ-lū'zhən) pron.gif

n.


    1. The act or process of deluding.
    2. The state of being deluded.

[*] A false belief or opinion: labored under the delusion that success was at hand.

[*]Psychiatry. A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness: delusions of persecution.

[Middle English delusioun, from Latin dēlūsiō, dēlūsiōn-, from dēlūsus, past participle of dēlūdere, to delude. See delude.]

 

delusional de·lu'sion·al adj.

 

de·lude (dĭ-lūd') pron.gif

tr.v., -lud·ed, -lud·ing, -ludes.

  1. To deceive the mind or judgment of: fraudulent ads that delude consumers into sending in money. See synonyms at deceive.

 

It seems the word has a number of definitions. I was using Definition 3 above. I have also seen it used as in Definition 2. However, I have never before seen it used to describe a whole sociological category of human beings (Christianity can be seen as a sociological term for a category of humanity) and I cannot convince myself that this is an appropriate use of the term.

 

In their less lucid moments, Christians do tend to write off entire segments of humanity with such misapplication of terms as "Buddhists are deluded" or "Atheists are immoral." For us to say "Christians are delusional" seems to be following in the trends set by our religious forebears.

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In their less lucid moments, Christians do tend to write off entire segments of humanity with such misapplication of terms as "Buddhists are deluded" or "Atheists are immoral." For us to say "Christians are delusional" seems to be following in the trends set by our religious forebears.

 

I agree. It degenerates into the same name-calling and judgemental hypocrisies that we claim to be fighting so passionately against.

 

I admit that I do think a lot of Christians believe in a lot of nonsense. But I wouldn't call them delusional. In fact I think a lot, if not most, Christians believe in "allegory" more than literal interpretations of Biblical events. I'm not the kind of person who will say that it's totally unacceptable to believe in a certain religion or faith just because I disagree with it or find the basic tenets or stories behind it to be "wrong". If the people practicing behave and live in a healthy way, far be it from me to say that they're not really healthy because I don't like their religion.

 

Yes, I think a lot of Christianity is bullshit. Perhaps in the very broadest sense, and by "broad" I mean like fucking Anna Nicole Smith, I think they have delusional beliefs at times. But so what? Yes, I think Dobson's mentally ill like a bitch, but that's not just his Christianity but his whip-happy mother rearing up her ugly head.

 

I would say that most Christians that I would call "delusional", then, are not influenced to be so solely by their religion. I find strongly fundamentalist or bizarre religious beliefs are most often accompanied by severe mental illness, with the illness as a seperate cause from the religion, but still influencing a person's beliefs regarding it.

 

I also believe that in most clinical settings the term "delusion" is by and large used only for those which really do interfere with everyday life. Since it is a term so steeped in psychology I'm going to go with that definition of it rather than a totally literal interpretation given by a dictionary.

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