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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by velkyn on Today at 05:53:55 AM »
There are two problems I can see just offhand.  First off, who pays for it?  There are times that one might be able to get a free therapist, but barring that, I don't think they're cheap.  I mean, therapy can be effective, and it isn't harmful as far as I know, but the therapists have to make a living.

The other problem is the stigma associated with mental illness.  It wasn't that long ago that it was the kind of thing that got kept as secret as possible, and even today, it's at best a badge of shame, like a scarlet letter.  Like it or not, it's something that has to be accounted for.  More to the point, therapy is most effective when people go into it willingly.  How do you get people to do it willingly when they see nothing at all wrong with it to begin with?  Or if people are trying to say that it's a stigma despite this?

As for a honest belief, it's a belief that is come to honestly.  And yes, I think people can, and usually do, hold religious beliefs honestly.  Even if only due to ignorance or something similar, and once they're there, they're tough to root out.  Just look at Old Church Guy, for example.

^^ what do you mean by "come to honestly"?  That they grew up with them?  That they encountered them and, without thought or research, decided that they were true?  Should we not hold them accountable?    You are very right, such beliefs are tough to root out, one of the signs of a delusion if one goes with the information I gave.

I'm not asking about possible harm to a therapist, but harm to a believer.  I do agree that it could be a "badge of shame", but that is a problem caused by ignorance, the same with people thinking there is no problem with believing in things that aren't real.  I also agree that therapy is better if you accept it, but what does that say about people being committed involuntarily? 

I've been crossing swords with a Christian Scientist just recently.  I've been doing a lot of research on Christian Science and holy cats, they are just about as ridiculous as Scientologists.  Because someone may have stumbled upon such beliefs or grew up with them and glommed on to them, and now evinces the three qualities that I shared before about them, are they delusional?  Or does that only come in when they hurt someone or themselves?   

and OOA,  a very good point.
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by One Above All on Today at 05:26:20 AM »
I'll say this for those who don't like to read long comments:
At its core, theism is the belief that an invisible, intangible entity - an entity that, by all accounts, cannot be verified - has a direct impact on the believer's life. If this is not a delusion, then we need to start taking people who say that aliens are spying on them through their microwave a little more seriously.
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by One Above All on Today at 04:07:15 AM »
Good points. They are equally delusional. I'm just slightly confused about one thing. In your example, is the pixie belief something that came to the individual out of the blue - a delusion unrelated to any other, like voices in his head? Or (since you mention other pixie-believers) is it a fringe thing, like some conspiracy theories - mad, but based in some already existing theory?

Voices, paranoia, general delusions.

Because religion is so pervasive, and so many people are literally steeped in it from day one, I'm not sure I see faith in a major religion as quite on the same level as actual mental illness. Irrational, yes, delusional, undoubtedly, but still based in the "reality" that they have lived with from birth.

And do you think it started like that? The gods were always placed "out of reach", were claimed to have power over people's fates, and believers were a fringe group at first. Unless you're suggesting that large groups of believers popped up at the same time, it started like in my example.

Of course I am thinking more, here, of things like schizophrenia and such. There are other mental issues like OCD, depression, bipolar disorder, etc, where it is not so much what a person might believe as the hold it has on them which is the problem, and in this case I would say that an over-the-top obsession with either pixies or religion would amount to the same thing.

Well, believers "speak in tongues"[1], claim to "feel a god's presence"[2], claim to speak to a god[3], and the most "hardcore" believers exhibit mania while in church[4]. That's not to mention the "psychics" who "see the future"[5], nor the guys who "interpret" the others "speaking in tongues"[6], nor the psychotic ones constantly hoping for and, in some cases, actively trying to end the world.
If you look at mental disorders and compare them to the behavior of theists in regards to religion (and maybe even outside it), you'll find that there's a direct correlation between the two. The only difference between someone speaking of the Tooth Fairy ripping out their teeth and someone else a god giving them visions is that the former gets psychiatric treatment for their obvious delusions, and the latter is hailed as a "prophet" or "proof of the divine" by their religion.
 1. I don't know what to call this except a mental breakdown of some kind or an epileptic seizure. Perhaps mania.
 2. Delusional, plain and simple, like when someone in an asylum claims the Tooth Fairy really did rip out all their teeth while they were sleeping because they felt it.
 3. Hallucinations, and I dare anyone to say otherwise.
 4. One of the symptoms of a number of disorders, such as schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder.
 5. More hallucinations.
 6. Delusions.
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by jaimehlers on Yesterday at 11:39:30 PM »
I realize you haven't been around for a while, kaziglu bey, and thus are not very familiar with my posting style, but you not only read what I said wrong, you were so far off you weren't even in the same zip code.  I not only don't try to shut conversations down, I actually persist much longer than average in trying to get through to people.  I'm not sure how you misread my points so badly, but you probably should keep that in mind when it comes to interpreting other things I say.  That being said, I consider that particular matter settled.

That being said, the same kind of holds true for me, and I'll do better at avoiding making unwarranted assumptions about what you are trying to say in the future.

Regarding the source you posted, I cannot help but wonder how you managed to get from "one-third of psychoses have religious delusions" to it being something that happens very often.  Even the author only termed it as "often", though I'd quibble with that because a third of the time isn't exactly all that frequent.  That being said, while you are correct that the article does point out an association between religion and religious delusion, and that it can be hard to distinguish between the two, it also states that religious beliefs can actually help people with mental illnesses cope with them - something which you failed to even so much as mention.

I will post the conclusion of the article here, to let people judge for themselves:

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Persons with severe and persistent mental illness often present for treatment with religious delusions. In the United States, approximately 25-39% of patients with schizophrenia and 15-22% of those with mania/bipolar disorder have religious delusions. In Great Britain and Europe, 21-24% of patients with schizophrenia have religious delusions, and in Japan the rate is 7-11%. Less information is available for Brazil, but rates of religious delusions exceeding 15% are likely. Non-psychotic religious belief and activity is also quite common among persons with severe mental illness, and these are often used to cope with the severe psychosocial stress caused by such illness.

Psychotic vs. non-psychotic beliefs and experiences may be difficult to distinguish from one another in some cases, although there are ways described here that clinicians can make such distinctions. This is particularly important since non-psychotic religious involvement may have a positive impact on the course of illness and frequency of psychotic exacerbations, and so deserves support and encouragement by clinicians. Religious delusions, on the other hand, may portent a worse prognosis and so should be vigorously treated.

Spiritual interventions ? particularly when administered in a group format ? may influence the course of severe mental illness in a number of ways, including providing support, addressing their spiritual concerns, and increasing their ability to connect with others. Unfortunately, there is much about the relationship between religion and psychotic illness that remains unknown, suggesting the need for more research. What is already known, however, justifies at least some tentative steps forward. Taking a careful spiritual history, supporting non-psychotic religious involvement, and considering spiritual group interventions for patients who are so inclined seem like reasonable next steps.
The fact that you did not represent the article particularly well here does not bode well for the comparison you are trying to make.  There are three major mistakes you made here.  First, you failed to actually present your source until I demanded it from you; you should have presented it on your own.  Second, you overstated the likelihood of mental illness to contain religious delusions, at a time when it was impossible to check your source because you had not posted it.  Third, you failed to mention important conclusions from the article, such as that people with mental illnesses often used religious belief as a coping mechanism and that religious/spiritual intervention tended to positively affect recovery from mental illnesses.

The way you presented this information was very one-sided, and makes it look as if you are trying to support a conclusion you have already drawn rather than trying to gather evidence in order to form a conclusion.  The fact that your behavior does not seem to match your stated intentions suggests to me either that you are confused in some way, or that you are being irrational without realizing it.  And before you get upset at my saying so, confusion on subjects that someone is unfamiliar with is pretty common, and irrationality is pretty much the default state in humans.  In fact, the two tend to reinforce each other.  But whether I am correct or not, you should definitely spend some time reviewing the argument you're trying to make here.

Now, I'd like to go back to what you said earlier about mentally normal religious people believing things just as irrational as what mentally ill religious people believe.  If this is true, then it is a problem for your argument, because it means the irrational religious beliefs do not really have any bearing on the incidence of mental illness.  Indeed, according to your article, the likelihood of a mentally ill person having religious delusions correlates pretty well with the total number of people who hold religious beliefs in a particular country or area.  That suggests to me that you are likely correct here, and the relationship between the two is mainly that in countries with more religious people, people who are mentally ill are more likely to be religious, and vice versa.

In addition to the problem I mentioned above, there is a further one; namely, that you appear to be making the assumption that the primary issue with mental illness is that it results in irrational thinking.  But if what you said earlier is true, the irrational thinking doesn't really have any bearing on the situation either way.  That jives with what I know about mental illnesses - which is that they are often triggered by physical or psychological trauma of some kind, including stress[1].  In other words, mental illness is caused by factors other than irrational thinking.  Perhaps it does have some influence on things, but given that the webmd site I linked doesn't even mention it, I wouldn't rate that at all likely.

To put it another way, a rational person could just as easily suffer from mental illness as an irrational person.  It may be that the degree to which a person is rational might affect it, but I wouldn't care to guess how, or how much.

Despite this, I still think that it would be useful to discuss the differences between mental illness and religious belief, as well as how they correlate.  I did find it interesting, for example, that religious belief could help people cope with mental illness and could assist their recovery from it.  It may be that this is a form of the placebo effect, and that would be worth knowing too.
 1. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-illness-basics#1
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Evolution & Creationism / Re: Creationism Is Not Science
« Last post by Anfauglir on Yesterday at 10:06:25 PM »
The Premise:

1. The definition of science:

1a. Science is knowledge/understanding/study of the natural/physical/material universe.

I cannot read any further, as I need you to define your terms.  What are your definitions for natural, physical, and material - and for unnatural, non-physical, and non-material?

Until I understand what you mean by those terms, it is pointless considering anything further in that post.

In fact, I am going to go Mod at this point, as after five pages of this thread, you are refusing to define your terms.

Define clearly, with examples, what you mean by physical and Non-physical.  Cover the critical differences between the two state/types, and explain how an observer would tell the difference between the two.
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Evolution & Creationism / Re: Creationism Is Not Science
« Last post by Anfauglir on Yesterday at 09:57:50 PM »
I’m just trying to work out the relationship between science and the non-physical.....

Are you?  Or are you trying to assume the existence of the non-physical?  Whatever that may be.  Can you define it - preferably in a way that is NOT reliant on negatives?

Can you give me a couple of examples of the "non-physical" so I can understand exactly what you are trying to describe please?  And a couple lines for each that give any reason at all to assume that those non-physical things exist?

yeah sure, my premise is this: “It is possible that a spiritual dimension exists (regardless of how unlikely, it is possible).  I’m not assuming it exists, I’m just saying that the concept exists and that it is 100% unscientific to analyse it, but still a valid human endeavour.

Some examples are, angels, demons, God.   I don’t want to assume they exist, I just want to point out that it is unscientific to analyse them and whatever evidence there is is not scientific evidence.   I guess we could call it theological evidence, what would you call it?

I'm undecided as to whether you deliberately chose not to answer my questions, or whether you simply didn't understand what I was asking.  I will assume it is the latter, so I will try again with a rephrase.

1) Please can you define "non-physical", preferably in a way NOT reliant on negatives?  So "things that aren't physical" is no help.  "Things that are.....(X)" would be far more useful.

2) Can you give me some examples of the non-physical so I can understand what you are trying to describe?  Saying "angels, god" means as little as if you said "flibbles, gerplunks" because (while I of course have concepts in mind for the words you speak) I do not know what YOU mean by them. 

3) For the things you name in (2), can you give any reason at all to assume that there is anything there worthy of consideration in the first place. 

By this point you will have clearly defined the non-physical, and given some specific examples of some beings that you class as non-physical - their attributes, their characteristics.  And thus, we will have some clear concepts to examine.....and THEN be able to determine whether "science" can legitimately investigate these things.

I will state again, for the record: science can and does deal with any number of things that are not "physical".  Social Sciences, for example.  Psychology.  It is perfectly possible to use scientific principles to examine something that you can't physically prod on the arm, so you need to better define "non-physical" to explain why YOUR category cannot be examined by "science" while those, other non-physical things, can be.

Might be useful if you clearly define what you mean by "science", as well, as it definitely seems you are not using it in the same way as anyone else here.

If you really, honestly want to construct a decent argument, then you will understand why I am asking these questions, and will do your best to comply.  If, however, this is just an attempt to shoehorn in a god-of-the-gaps, to manipulate a "well you can't prove NO god, so therefore you have to admit there COULD be a god" situation, then you will ignore the questions, or give woolly and vague answers to them all. 

Prove to me that this thread is an honest attempt to construct an argument.

The simplified definition of ‘non-physical’ in my logical argument is not a fatal flaw, it helps to keep things simple where possible.   

I suggest you present your definition of science and the logical conclusions that follow in relation to origins concepts.   I have made such a presentation, you have not, and until you do your comments about poor definitions are pointless.

Ah, but your loose definition is a critical flaw.  Without defining what you are talking about, it is impossible to even consider your argument, since no two people will have the same understanding of what is meant. 

I don't need to present MY definition - I'm not the one putting forward an argument.  YOU are - or, rather, you are not, because you refuse to dbe fine your terms.  I can only assume you are refusing to do so because you believe that as soon as you do, your argument will fall apart.
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by kaziglu bey on Yesterday at 08:07:44 PM »

I guess I find the wootastic magical thinking and over-eager credulity to be the more worthwhile focus is all.  I think that is more worthy of the label 'most egregious offender'.
Seriously, how? People don't generally commit genocide because of Himalayan salt lamps, or try to pass legislation based on tarot cards.

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Is it insane?

Maybe some of this discussion is regarding semantics more than anything else.  I know how I use the word 'insane' - it's pretty slipshod.  I do not really ever use it in a formalized medical context (I certainly don't have the qualifications to do so).  I feel like you're using 'insane' here in a way that I would use it informally.  Unfortunately, I feel like there is some conflation here between informal usage of 'insane' and, well, 'mental illness'.
Ah yes, the clarity of the English language. Insane is indeed a poor word choice. I would probably go more towards irrational , delusional, or otherwise not in sync with reality.

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Well, I can name religious people who seem at least as free from delusional or irrational ideas as non-religious people.
Then how could they possibly even be considered religious? Do they not think that they will survive their own death?  I submit that someone who has no irrational ideas is probably not religious in any meaningful sense.
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Which tells me that the 'religion' part is at least kind of a poor predictor in determining whether or not someone is delusional or irrational...

...I suppose that's a salient complaint I have with this discussion.  I'm having a difficult time framing this as "person x is delusional."  Like, if person x makes 1000 claims and 50 of those claims can be shown to be the result of blatant irrationality, would that qualify as that person 'being irrational'?  I can see it as that person being irrational regarding those 50 claims or what not, but I don't know how to basically go 'and that person is irrational.' That person embodies irrationality.  That person is generally irrational when it comes to pretty much how they think.  That, to me, is a bigger leap than I am willing to make in a sweeping 'religious belief is essentially mental illness' claim.
Look, I don't really care what people believe, it is just that people who hold irrational beliefs can be dangerous. ESPECIALLY if the belief is a genuinely held  religious one.

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Of course to directly answer your question, I can't think of any religion that is free from delusion or irrational ideas.
Well then how can you say that you know religious people with irrational beliefs?
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  That being said I struggle to think of any ideological framework that is free from delusion or irrational ideas.  I can say that some ideologies are better than others in that regard, but I wouldn't say 'free from'.  I really wouldn't.
Atheism. You don't have to believe anything irrational to be an atheist. You do have to believe irrational things to be religious.

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So I get that, but don't you think you ought to take into consideration that it might be misconstrued?  Communication is a two-way street after all, and how you intend to express information to someone does need to take into account how your target will process the information.
, Sure, I think that I try to make myself as clear as possible. But that's only because I know what I mean to say. I can certainly accept that there are limitations in this way. I honestly don't know how to make what I say free of interpretational error: Hell, God can't even do that!  :P

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Yeah but I think there is a little more specificity with what I'm saying.  I think the disagreement we're having has a lot more to do with degree rather than some core ideological difference.  That's not to say the disagreement isn't worthwhile to discuss or anything.  Maybe we're in the same chapter but still on different pages or something.  I dunno.  But I do think you're overgeneralizing.

I suppose another area of disagreement is the pragmatic aspect - I think we disagree on the utility or lackthereof of saying 'religious belief' vs. 'belief'.
If discussing the usefulness of beliefs in general, it seems inevitable that we will come around to religious beliefs. I'm sure the religious are going to notice this. Should we at that point refuse to admit that we are talking about religious beliefs? If not, then why not just say so up front instead of beating around the bush?

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Do you think it would be correct or appropriate to receive treatment - medical treatment - for this?  This may be where I'm seeing conflation between informal usage of words like 'insanity' and formalized medical usage of such words.
I really don't know. It has yet to be established whether her rather crazy ideas are the result of mental illness or not. Hence, the entire point of this thread, which no one seems to want to actually address.

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I'm not saying you ought not challenge them.
How can I challenge something if I'm not supposed to call it what it is?

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From a practical standpoint, it isn't about not hurting their feelings.  It's about taking some communicative responsibility and recognizing that it is very possible to change the nature of a discussion - how receptive your discussion partner is as well as how receptive you are - by how discussions are framed.
Can you then help me with framing this? How does one demonstrate communicative responsibility when dealing with  someone whose ideas are complete  bullshit and possibly harmful? How do I say that politely? I'm not being facetious. I don't see what it is necessary to exercise communicative responsibility unless it is to avoid hurting peoples feelings.

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From a more abstract standpoint, I do think one should not call not-mentally ill people mentally ill.  And you've not convinced me that 'being religious' necessarily corresponds to 'mental illness'.
Again I HAVE NOT SAID that religion=mental illness. I really wish people would stop accusing me of this as it is getting frustrating, especially since I have clearly stated numerous times that what I have asked, for like the 40th time, how do we distinguish between the two?
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by kaziglu bey on Yesterday at 07:23:43 PM »
Why do you keep bringing up this business about "not being allowed to have a conversation", kaziglu bey?  Nobody has said that you can't talk about this or that you should avoid offending sensibilities, except you.


I would direct you attention to:
Quote from: jaimehlers
Seriously, kaziglu bey, what good will it do to argue that religious belief is the equivalent of mental illness (or a delusion, or insanity)?  What good will it do to try to convince the vast majority of human beings that they are mentally ill (or delusional, or insane)?  Conflating the two terms will not even convince everyone who is opposed to religion; it has almost no chance of convincing those who are religious themselves.  It is nothing more than attempting to strike a blow against religion for the sake of striking a blow against religion, cheering for atheism and booing theism.  How well does that sort of thing work to convince the members of the other team that they shouldn't support their team?  How well has it ever worked?
I suppose it could have misunderstood you, but this sounds like you are not for discussing this topic.

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Saying things like that contradicts you saying that you're interested in what people who disagree with you say.  At best, it makes those things into pithy lip service.  Seriously, this is the second post you've addressed to me that talks about those things.  I'm not sure why you keep bringing them up, never mind at me, but they aren't helping your case any, especially since they're not at all close to anything I've said.
Again, you asked we why bother to even argue about it. That doesn't seem like you are welcoming of this conversation. Indeed you have yet to even answer my main point, which is how do we tell distinguish between genuine religious belief and delusion? Where does it cross the line? I think that this has significant moral implications. If someone kills someone only because of their sincerely held religious belief, I think that we ought to treat that differently than someone experiencing a genuine mental health crises and kills someone. 

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I think if you want to try to argue about how correlated religious belief and mental illness are, you need more than just an anecdote about someone you know who is religious and, in your opinion, might also be mentally ill.  For example, earlier, you made the claim that among those who suffered mental health delusions, there was very often a strong religious component to it.  "Very often" in what context?
According to this article http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0101-60832007000700013&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en  by Harold G. Koenig, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Associate Professor of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, 
Quote from: Harold G. Koenig
Background: Religion is often included in the beliefs and experiences of psychotic patients, and therefore becomes the target of psychiatric interventions.

Findings : While about one-third of psychoses have religious delusions, not all religious experiences are psychotic. In fact, they may even have positive effects on the course of severe mental illness, forcing clinicians to make a decision on whether to treat religious beliefs and discourage religious experiences, or to support them.
The entire paper shows that there is some strong correlation between religion and delusion, and also points out that this can be difficult to distinguish, though it does have some ways.

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How often is "very often"?  Why suggest that it's a very high number while failing to give any details that would corroborate it?  If you had the evidence in hand to convince you that a lot of people with diagnosed mental health issues had strong religious components to those issues, why not present them at the same time?  If you did not have the evidence in hand, then why imply that this high correlation exists in the first place?  Either way, it isn't exactly good for your argument.
I think that the article i posted earlier and the quoted section from it answers this already.

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I have no objections to taking about the issue of whether mental health correlates with religious beliefs, and if so, how strong a correlation it is,
Are you sure? You did kind of start off by asking why ever bother to bring it up.
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but such a discussion should have solid evidence behind it, otherwise it's being improperly singled out for discussion.  That doesn't mean you can't talk about it anyway, but it can only be speculative in that case.
I started off talking about it speculatively. When i did that, you called doing so
Quote from: jaimehlers
It is nothing more than attempting to strike a blow against religion for the sake of striking a blow against religion, cheering for atheism and booing theism.
So I'm not really sure what you want.
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by jynnan tonnix on Yesterday at 06:54:58 PM »
A religious belief differs only from a mental illness (a delusion, more precisely) in that the former is socially acceptable. A religious belief is literally a belief in something that is either demonstrably false (deities), logically inconsistent (religious texts), or just plain impossible (magic).

Let me give you a couple examples for comparison.

Example 1
A person comes up to you and says there's a pixie in their home who punishes them if they do something wrong. You go to their house and find nothing whatsoever, as you expected. When you point this out, the individual gets angry, saying that the pixie is "obviously real" and lists supposed properties it has. It's intangible and invisible, yet all-knowing and actively interferes in this person's life, either helping them or punishing them. It's also in various locations at the same time, all private domiciles of people who believe in the pixie, but "in another dimension", so it can't be reached, except if and when you die.
Furthermore, when you ask this individual where they heard of such a thing, they cite anecdotes you can tell are either largely unverifiable, such as the pixie curing someone who was already on medication or helping someone find their car keys, or blatantly impossible, like making the sun stand still in the sky or resurrecting someone. This individual swears these stories are completely true, and even cites their own personal experience with how the pixie alleviated their stress after praying to it and helped them get the promotion they wanted. You know these are all easily explained in more conventional ways, but you say nothing.
When you ask others who believe in the pixie about it, they all come up with conflicting statements as to "the true nature of the pixie", each convinced the others are wrong and only they hold the truth about the pixie. Additionally, the first individual you questioned also comes up with internally inconsistent statements about the pixie, depending on what suits their needs at any given point in time.

Would you say these individuals are suffering from delusions? I would, since we know pixies don't exist, whereas mass delusions do.



Example 2
Another person comes up to you and says there's a god who punishes them if they do something wrong. When you ask them to produce such an entity, the individual gets angry, saying that the god is "obviously real" and lists supposed properties it has. It's intangible and invisible, yet all-knowing and actively interferes in this person's life, either helping them or punishing them. It also takes residence in various locations at the same time, called "churches", all run by people who believe in the god. However, the god itself is "outside of time and space", so it can't be reached, except if and when you die.
Furthermore, when you ask this individual where they heard of such a thing, they cite anecdotes you can tell are either largely unverifiable, such as the god curing someone who was already on medication or helping someone find their car keys, or blatantly impossible, like making the sun stand still in the sky or resurrecting someone. This individual swears these stories are completely true, and even cites their own personal experience with how the god alleviated their stress after praying to it and helped them get the promotion they wanted. You know these are all easily explained in more conventional ways, but you say nothing.
When you ask others who believe in the god about it, they all come up with conflicting statements as to "the true nature of god", each convinced the others are wrong and only they hold the truth about the god. Additionally, the first individual you questioned also comes up with internally inconsistent statements about the god, depending on what suits their needs at any given point in time.

Would you say these individuals are suffering from delusions? I would, since the only difference from example 2 to example 1 is the subject of the delusion. In example 1 it's pixies, in 2 it's a god of some kind, but the behavior is identical.



Theism is just a socially acceptable form of insanity, and anyone who thinks otherwise should seriously examine it.

Good points. They are equally delusional. I'm just slightly confused about one thing. In your example, is the pixie belief something that came to the individual out of the blue - a delusion unrelated to any other, like voices in his head? Or (since you mention other pixie-believers) is it a fringe thing, like some conspiracy theories - mad, but based in some already existing theory?

Because religion is so pervasive, and so many people are literally steeped in it from day one, I'm not sure I see faith in a major religion as quite on the same level as actual mental illness. Irrational, yes, delusional, undoubtedly, but still based in the "reality" that they have lived with from birth.

Of course I am thinking more, here, of things like schizophrenia and such. There are other mental issues like OCD, depression, bipolar disorder, etc, where it is not so much what a person might believe as the hold it has on them which is the problem, and in this case I would say that an over-the-top obsession with either pixies or religion would amount to the same thing.
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by jaimehlers on Yesterday at 05:31:17 PM »
There are two problems I can see just offhand.  First off, who pays for it?  There are times that one might be able to get a free therapist, but barring that, I don't think they're cheap.  I mean, therapy can be effective, and it isn't harmful as far as I know, but the therapists have to make a living.

The other problem is the stigma associated with mental illness.  It wasn't that long ago that it was the kind of thing that got kept as secret as possible, and even today, it's at best a badge of shame, like a scarlet letter.  Like it or not, it's something that has to be accounted for.  More to the point, therapy is most effective when people go into it willingly.  How do you get people to do it willingly when they see nothing at all wrong with it to begin with?  Or if people are trying to say that it's a stigma despite this?

As for a honest belief, it's a belief that is come to honestly.  And yes, I think people can, and usually do, hold religious beliefs honestly.  Even if only due to ignorance or something similar, and once they're there, they're tough to root out.  Just look at Old Church Guy, for example.
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