Is religion a delusion?
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03-11-2015, 11:41 AM
Is religion a delusion?
I have often heard the concept "delusion" being used to describe religion or religious ideas and beliefs, but what is the reasoning behind describing religion and religious people as delusional, and are there any relevant researchers since Freud and his contemporaries who advocate this?

Cheers
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03-11-2015, 12:25 PM
RE: Is religion a delusion?
Quote:de·lu·sion
dəˈlo͞oZHən/
noun
an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.
Similar to how cults and religion only differ in popularity. Delusion tends to be defined by popular opinion. If most of society does not believe in the invisible pink unicorn, the person who does is considered delusional. If most of society does believe in the invisible god character, the person who does isn't (usually) considered delusional.

As time goes on and the world gets more secular, I think religion will be judged as delusional more often.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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03-11-2015, 12:32 PM
RE: Is religion a delusion?
Here is something for fun:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2...m-religion

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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03-11-2015, 12:33 PM
RE: Is religion a delusion?
It is not based on rational thinking or evidence. It is arbitrary faith. That would meet the aforementioned definition of a delusion.

A man should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself. -Ferris Bueller

That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs but what a ship is... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom. -Jack Sparrow
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03-11-2015, 12:37 PM
RE: Is religion a delusion?
(03-11-2015 12:33 PM)Imathinker Wrote:  It is not based on rational thinking or evidence. It is arbitrary faith. That would meet the aforementioned definition of a delusion.

except the bolded part Tongue

Quote:de·lu·sion
dəˈlo͞oZHən/
noun
an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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03-11-2015, 12:48 PM
RE: Is religion a delusion?
Believing with firm and unjustified conviction that for which there is no evidence, or that against which there is firm evidence, can certainly be described as delusional in common parlance, especially when the nature of the delusion is fantastical. A stubborn intrasingence against contrary evidence, and even paranoid rantings about the great conspiracy of those opposed to your viewpoints, would feed into this idea. (Someone less lazy than me might dig up links to Ben Carson complaining about the great secular conspiracy against him at this point.)

But in a technical sense? The current version of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) explicitly exempts experiences and beliefs in keeping with the subject's social, cultural, and religious background from the category of delusional disorder.

I've heard criticism of this for essentially handing religious belief a "get out of delusion free" card, but I think there's something to be said for it. It points to how delusion and religion are very different beasts in a psychological context. One is aberrant and personal in its origin; the other is conformist and the result of external influence and conditioning. This distinction implies different approaches to the prevention, treatment, and curing of either malady.

That's not saying that religious belief is true or rational. Just that it belongs in a different category of cra-cray than delusion. Perhaps its own category.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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03-11-2015, 12:52 PM
RE: Is religion a delusion?
(03-11-2015 11:41 AM)Gaest Wrote:  I have often heard the concept "delusion" being used to describe religion or religious ideas and beliefs, but what is the reasoning behind describing religion and religious people as delusional, and are there any relevant researchers since Freud and his contemporaries who advocate this?

Cheers

I don't think one can patently blanket "religion(s)" as delusional. There are some concepts that religious groups hold that are a far cry from delusion. Charity, good-will towards others, helping the sick, poor etc. Regardless of whether these can be attained outside the religious viewpoint is besides the point. The problem is with certain concepts that religious people hold that are in direct contradiction as what is generally accepted as rational or real. For instance we know as a fact that the earth is not 6,000 - 10,000 years old, yet many creationists hold to this piece of belief because it must fit within their worldview. To me this boarders on not only credulity but delusion. The same can be said for a talking snake, donkey, a boat that somehow carried all the animals of the earth for a period of time while the entire globe flooded, men thrown in furnaces and deliberately walking out unscathed, a person who allegedly came back from the dead. These kinds of claims deserve mountains of evidence, not just something written in a book. And these claims fly in the face of everything we know about reality. Someone who believes this despite acting in the "real world" can be said to be delusional.

**Crickets** -- God
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03-11-2015, 02:18 PM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2015 02:25 PM by Tomasia.)
RE: Is religion a delusion?
(03-11-2015 11:41 AM)Gaest Wrote:  I have often heard the concept "delusion" being used to describe religion or religious ideas and beliefs, but what is the reasoning behind describing religion and religious people as delusional, and are there any relevant researchers since Freud and his contemporaries who advocate this?

Cheers

No, it's not a delusion. A belief it an of itself can't be a delusion. When a psychiatrist diagnosis's a patient as suffering from psychosis, or mania, or some other form of delusion, they are inferring from a particular pattern of a belief, some sort of disruptive mental state, such as psychosis or mania as the cause of the beliefs, rather than the beliefs causing mania or psychosis. They are in essence gauging a deviation from a norm that's created by cultural, and environmental factors, and one's created by a frenzied mental states.

If you're using the term "delusion", in a way not pertaining to a particular mental state, you're not really using it any meaningful way. In a lot of cases it appears the term is used to refer to cognitive dissonance, but dissonance seems to be a universal feature of humanity, your sense of identify etc... are dependent on it to a significant degree. In fact the tendency to frame everyone else as delusional, and yourself as not is it's own form of delusion in this sense, cognitive dissonance at it's finest.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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03-11-2015, 02:44 PM
RE: Is religion a delusion?
(03-11-2015 11:41 AM)Gaest Wrote:  I have often heard the concept "delusion" being used to describe religion or religious ideas and beliefs...

I think this description is erroneous when applied to religion. There's a difference between using the term in a pathological context, or a more generalised, non-clinical context.

Although, when only 1% of the world's population believes in supernatural entities, then I think we'll be able to legitimately call religious belief a delusion..... I live in hope! Tongue

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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03-11-2015, 03:10 PM
RE: Is religion a delusion?
I am with Tonechaser that you can't throw a blanket over all of religion, but I think you can certainly call parts of religious beliefs delusions. In this day and age, if someone believes that the earth is 6,000 years old, they are delusional, if they believe in biblical creation, they are delusional, if they believe that praying does anything they are delusional as all of these are contradicted by reality.
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