Sunday, July 7, 2013

Are religious (or atheist) people delusional? Musings tonight...

              The specific religious meme you believe in was passed down to you from your parents which was passed on down to them from their parents and on and on. Thus, the type of religion you have was primarily given to you by your genetic lineage (your parents). This is one important way how memes function. Memes can also operate in a more horizontal manner. They are pieces of cultural data that are transmitted from one mind to the next by way of language or behavioral imitation. There are exceptions to this rule, of course; in the case of religion, some people converted to a different religion from their parents and some religious individuals relinquished religion, entirely. (I tend to focus on trends, because trends usually offer more predictability than looking at exceptions.)
          Compared to other memes, I think a religious meme is a very strong, infectious piece of data. I say this because religion has the power to rearrange a person’s entire way of thinking and perceiving the world around them. It so strongly modifies their thinking to such a grand extent that they literally become trapped inside a delusion.
              How does one know that it is the religious individual trapped in a delusion and not the atheist? Perhaps it is really the atheist confined within the real delusion and God really does exist and accurately impinges himself upon the minds of the religious.
            Anyone can be trapped in a delusion, so how do we know who is affected by it? Is the religious mind more likely trapped in a delusion or is the atheist mind? Is this a false dichotomy? Are there more than these two possibilities—perhaps both the atheist mind and religious mind are trapped inside delusions? Or, maybe there exists a delusion continuum and one of these world-views is measurably more delusional in degree than the other.
             Again, how can we tell? To say that the religious mind is suffering from delusion is a tacit suggestion that the atheist mind is not, or, is less so. It would be difficult to propose that both an atheist mind and religious mind are equally right at the same time; these two would negate each other due to possessing claims that are in diametric opposition to each other.
           We are right back to where we must decide. Which of these—the atheist or the religious theist—is more delusional than the other? One of these has got to be more delusional because the claims that are acknowledged by one of these views are opposed to the claims acknowledged by the other view. In other words, they contradict each other. More clearly, ask yourself whether god(s) can and cannot exist at the same time.
            Whether we like to admit it or not, there are some minds following a set of ideas and beliefs that are false—ahem, delusional. Some people may not like this statement. The notion of labeling some minds more delusional than others is a very offensive declaration. How can anyone person’s line of thinking and believing be superior to anyone else’s?
            A good way to think more about this is to look at reality. Of course, this is assuming that there is an objective reality that exists outside and independent of human minds and human senses.  I happen to think there is—or else, what now?  Also, if one says that “Reality is really a subjective experience”, are they not making an absolute statement here? It ends up defeating itself.  Where can we even go from there if we don’t at least make this fundamental assumption that we can all agree on?
        There must be some kind of absolute, objective reality that exists in order for us to contrast and measure delusion against. From another angle, if reality is ultimately subjective, how can we even begin to propose that someone is suffering from delusion—maybe such delusion would be that individual’s reality? In other words, we can’t reproach anyone for being delusional if no universal reality exists.
          Next, if we agree that reality is objective, we can look for evidences of delusion. We can look at which of these views (atheism or theism) offers an overall position that is reflective of this objective reality. We can begin to sift through the purported claims of each. Are there more false claims offered by religion (e.g. Christianity) or atheism?
            Atheism would seem to be a rejection of the claim that god(s) exist(s). A religious/theistic view might say, “A non-physical, god(s) exists and that he rules the world and has an eternal plan for each human being—not for other mammals, and certainly not for icky bacteria.” Notice how this is a densely loaded, non-vague assertion.
           An atheist (non-religious) stance would say that humans and other life forms are the result of a materialistic, physical process that can be explained through DNA, evolution and rewound back through time. There are many preceding physical steps that gave rise to human beings (and other life-forms) existing. Where there are gaps in this physical history, they are not explained by something that transcends nature (as far as I know). If all the other gaps we have ever come across throughout history have been explained by a physical mechanism, why, for a new knowledge gap would we resort to a non-physical one, such as god(s).

Those are just some quick thoughts tonight...


  1. Hey Renee, You're really becoming a great preacher!! Who would have believed it!! Oops, its the God Squad here, St Anthony you're out of order, you damn well know that women are not allowed to preach. Oops, sorry, Your Royal Highness, it was just a slip of the tongue, won't happen again, I assure you. Pssst, keep it up gal!! Your guardian angel in his cave in the Indian wilderness, AGP, 8th July 2013.

  2. I have been enjoying your blog and videos very much. Very thought provoking. I read this article the day before l read your latest post and thought you might like it.

    1. Thank you very, very much Unknown for stopping by and also offering me this link. I will check it out. :) kind regards and I hope you keep coming back...---Renee

  3. Hey I just found your vlog and Blogs. I am kind of bummed I cant comment on some of them on Youtube. Anyway, would love to have a chat with you on religion sometime. I am considering a graduate degree in Anthropology of religion and sexuality.


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  5. No Idea what the guy above me is talking about. However, in reference to your entry; I don't think the word delusional is the correct one, I think what you are referring to as delusional in some instance means convinced and in others it means wrong. In a sense we are all deluded (wrong and extremely convinced of) about our own world views. The worst part of this "delusion" and it applies to any theistic and atheist views is the assumption that either accurately describes the universe in an absolute way. I am atheist, and I believe our understanding of the universe is better than any theistic view, not because they attribute things to a God, I have nothing against Gods. The problem for me is that these models don't accurately predict much about our reality. Atheism as an ideology actually doesn't even fall under the category of world view,all it means is that whatever description of the universe you adhere to, you refuse to take a god into the equation. Which in my opinion is correct since it doesn't help any model.
    The trick to not being caught in what you call a delusion is to reassess your view of the universe and reality each day. Question everything. Of course some assertions will have to be taken as points of departure, like the agreement that we all exist in an objective reality. However, theories such as string theory and many other new ways of looking at reality should be taken with weariness, as carefully as we look at claims of incredible deeds even if they are hard to grasp as concepts. This reality has room for unexplained things. The debate should be where those things fall once we attempt to explain them. We can either take them and place them within our models and begin to develop a model which includes them in some way. Or we can fear them and their explanations as most religions do, and attribute them to gods and other things beyond our reach. However, we can never be sure that we are right because of one important factor which I believe most humans don't see.
    Our perception of the universe can never be absolute because we view it from our perspective as humans. Our lens is limited by our physical (including intellectual) capacity, our tools and our biases above all. Even if we develop a model for explaining the universe for ourselves. We can never be sure, or claim that it is an absolute model, because there can always be phenomena outside of our reach. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has an interesting video on this. In short, our models of the universe will always be human models and not absolute models. However!! This is not a bad thing at all, since the ones which should matter most to us, and for whom we should seek understanding even if limited, is ourselves.

  6. Thought provoking article.

    As an Australian recently living in America I had to confront the religious question very quickly, in fact the first week i was here I was asked by a couple if I was Christian. I danced around this early on but found the question quite intimidating and one that I would rarely have to broach in my homeland.

    After a few years I now just say I don't believe in anything and that you they can classify me as to their will.

    One thing I do think is a good thought experiment is on Facebook. On a daily basis many of my 'friends' post articles about their God and at times it does get a little ridiculous.

    I never comment on these articles but I do classify them in my mind, one as harmless and good natured and two, as preposterous. The preposterous being attacks on fundamentals of science like Evolution and The Big Bang Hypothesis and of course the time honored tradition of picking out a miracle from a massive human tragedy.

    I am sure these 'friends' would find it offensive if I commented against their positions, and in person I do challenge them to think a little more if I find it appropriate.

    I simply tell them that all of my positions are based on testable evidence and reason.

    Now delusion is something that would never cross their minds, but I find they know less about their preachings than I do (having read most religious texts a number of times)

    What is more likely is a good conversation starter, but you must be careful who you attempt this with, the blind evangelist will never be able to have this conversation, but I find most people are at least inquisitive of others positions and how those positions came about.

    Anyway, I have ranted long enough, keep the writing up


  7. Of course religious people are delusional. They are also in denial. This may make them really happy. Unfortunately, as you have said elsewhere, happiness that is based on lies is worthless. Keep writing and sharing your mind with the rest of us, that is very much better than lies.