Mental Illness and Religion
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26-12-2014, 01:37 PM
Mental Illness and Religion
I'm sure this has been discussed here in the past but I'm still relatively new...so forgive me.

Throughout history religion and Gods were an explanatory substitute to many of life's yet unexplainable phenomenon, so it is clear why ancient man would create or truly believe that something greater than their understanding was responsible for the sun, thunder, the sea, the weather, etc etc.

But now, thousands of years later, when most of life/Earths phenomena have been explained and in such a manner that school aged children can grasp the basic concepts, why is it that religion still thrives?

I'm not claiming that religion is a mental illness, but it shares similar traits and causes from a psychological perspective. And it would seem to take a mentally sick or disturbed mind to willfully ignore the blatant answers provided by the evolution of our species.

Your thoughts.
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27-12-2014, 12:41 AM
RE: Mental Illness and Religion
You're discounting the power of indoctrination, the will to believe, and the difficulty of admitting your life has centered on a lie. When you've been given the answers it's easy to doubt the veracity of contrary evidence. Confirmation bias 101. There are plenty of apologists and preachers who will explain how the evidence is a deception.

I know plenty of very smart, quite sane theists. It's sad to me, but they are quite happy in their convictions. Atheists are often too dismissive of theists in this way.
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27-12-2014, 07:54 AM (This post was last modified: 27-12-2014 09:02 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Mental Illness and Religion
(26-12-2014 01:37 PM)Fodder_From_The_Truth Wrote:  Throughout history religion and Gods were an explanatory substitute to many of life's yet unexplainable phenomenon, so it is clear why ancient man would create or truly believe that something greater than their understanding was responsible for the sun, thunder, the sea, the weather, etc etc.

No, that's not clear at all. In fact religion as some sort of pre-cursor to scientific explanations of the universe, has long been rejected by anthropologist and such.

Consider the entire New Testament, which has almost nothing to say about the creator qualities of God, no explanations for the weather, or the sun, yet this text gave rise to our most prevalent religious expression.

Those early believers didn't believe Jesus was God, was the truth, because he gave them insights into why the sun rises, or what the weather would be like tomorrow.

To understand religion, even in a purely naturalistic way, is not parallel to an inquiry about why we write science or history textbooks, but why such works parallel to religious expressions and writings, such as stories, poems, music and art that speak so deeply to us, are so important to us as human beings.
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27-12-2014, 08:35 AM
RE: Mental Illness and Religion
(26-12-2014 01:37 PM)Fodder_From_The_Truth Wrote:  I'm not claiming that religion is a mental illness, but it shares similar traits and causes from a psychological perspective. And it would seem to take a mentally sick or disturbed mind to willfully ignore the blatant answers provided by the evolution of our species.

This is not directly on point, but perhaps will shed a bit of light, in regards to Christianity at least...

Jesus made a point of hanging out with lepers and whores etc. So from the very beginning there has been a tradition, especially among the best Christians, of reaching out to the down trodden, people in trouble etc.

What often happens is that once these poor neglected souls realize somebody is actually interested in them, they become fervent converts, and then perhaps somewhat crazed evangelists.

And whatever problems got them in to trouble in the first place are not magically washed away, so their very public expression of their new found religion can indeed take on a crazy form.

Thus, having these folks ring our door bell while almost foaming at the mouth, can understandably give the impression to some that religion = insanity.

Some atheists kind of foam at the mouth too, by the way.
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27-12-2014, 08:58 AM
RE: Mental Illness and Religion
(27-12-2014 07:54 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  To understand religion, even in a purely naturalistic way, is not parallel to an inquiry about why we write science or history textbooks, but why such works parallel to religious expressions and writings, such as stories, poems, music and art that speak so deeply to us, are so important to us as human being.

Wow, great stuff! I am encouraged.

Yes, the comparison to art is excellent.

Consider a well done movie. The plot of the movie is entirely fictional, but a well done movie speaks to a truth about some aspect of the human condition that we all recognize, but perhaps couldn't express ourselves.

It's the recognition of that human truth that makes us label the movie as good or great, and keeps us thinking about it days later.

A movie that's just a list of facts gets panned pretty quickly, because it doesn't speak to things we really care about.
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27-12-2014, 10:42 AM (This post was last modified: 27-12-2014 10:56 AM by 666wannabe.)
RE: Mental Illness and Religion
(26-12-2014 01:37 PM)Fodder_From_The_Truth Wrote:  I'm sure this has been discussed here in the past but I'm still relatively new...so forgive me.

Throughout history religion and Gods were an explanatory substitute to many of life's yet unexplainable phenomenon, so it is clear why ancient man would create or truly believe that something greater than their understanding was responsible for the sun, thunder, the sea, the weather, etc etc.

But now, thousands of years later, when most of life/Earths phenomena have been explained and in such a manner that school aged children can grasp the basic concepts, why is it that religion still thrives?

I'm not claiming that religion is a mental illness, but it shares similar traits and causes from a psychological perspective. And it would seem to take a mentally sick or disturbed mind to willfully ignore the blatant answers provided by the evolution of our species.

Your thoughts.

There was a book published in 1995 by psychologist, John F. Schumaker which agrees with you. The book is, "The Corruption of Reality: A Unified Theory of Religion, Hypnosis, and Psychopathology".

The frontleaf of the book says,

"In The Corruption of Reality, noted psychologist John F. Schumaker argues that, despite their superficial differences, religion, hypnosis, and psychopathology are all expressions of the unique human ability to modify and regulate reality in ways that serve the individual and society.

"In turn, these same behaviors can be traced to the brain's remarkable capacity to process information along multiple pathways, thus allowing us to distort reality in strategic ways that enhance coping.

"This trance-related brain faculty, known as dissociation, is revealed as a crucial determinant of what we come to experience as human reality."

If any of you have had the experience of talking with a "believer" and getting the feeling that they were robotically repeating what they had heard from an established doctrine, rather than having an logical conversation with you, you have experienced this phenomenon.

I recommend this book to everyone.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.--Voltaire.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine.
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