Is the American Psychiatric Association Pandering to Religious Sensibilities? Can Religious Belief Be Described As Delusional?

 Pre-amble to this posting: The contents of this posting will no doubt be offensive to some, perhaps many. I assure all that it is not my intent to cause such offense, but it is going to happen. Please view this as what it was intended to be: a dispassionate presentation of my views—views that I am willing to discuss openly. (PLEASE SCROLL TO END OF ARTICLE TO VIEW ERRATUM BEFORE READING ARTICLE. THANK YOU)

 The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, International Version (DSM-IV) is the standard handbook of psychological disorders used by mental health professionals around the world. It is pretty much the Bible or the Qur’an of mental health disorders. Lets see how it defines delusion:

 Delusion: A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture (e.g., It is not an article of religious faith) (American Psychiatric Association 1995; p783).

Does this constitute political pandering, a reasonable psychological and cultural analysis, or perhaps a bit of A and a bit of B? Continue reading below the fold.

I’m inclined to believe that it is merely the result of reasonable psychological and cultural analysis. After all, most religious people are perfectly functional in all others spheres of consideration. Secondly, it is well-known that the normal human mind, particularly the normal young human mind, can quite readily come to believe in supernatural ideas—God, gods, witches, spirits, demons, etc.—based on a natural proclivity to infer agency to explain unexplained phenomena. As Pascal Boyer, one of the leading scholars on the Psychology and Anthropology of religious belief and author of “Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought” has presented evidence for, humans seem to have an overdeveloped inclination to infer agency, or the existence of other minds. Over history—and even today in some places—humans have explained the existence of illness, thunder, bad luck and good luck as being the handiwork of witches, Thor and his mighty hammer, demons and benevolent ancestral spirits.

 Given that most religious people are as reasonable as nonreligious people in all other areas of consideration (though, I conjecture that they probably are more likely to believe in things like ghosts than nontheists), that the normal human mind can easily come to believe in spiritual claims, and that it is a fact that most people do have beliefs in the supernatural, there does seem to be a valid psychological and cultural basis for this definition. Moreover, most—and hopefully all–mental health professionals would readily diagnose delusion if a person claimed to such things as being spoken to by God or having seen floating spirits.

However, I would also argue that such religious belief does actually constitute delusion based on irrationality and in some cases, hallucinations. After all, after thousands of years no one has put forth a compelling argument for any particular supernatural being, or for a supernatural being in general, that is able to stand up to critical evidence-based analysis. Secondly, much of the initial explanatory value of supernatural beliefs has been eroded over the centuries. Gods have been postulated to make sense of such things as illness, thunder, rain, the movement of the sun, the origin of species, morality, and so forth. Each of these domains have been neatly captured and rationally addressed in the natural sciences. The God of everything has been reduced to the God of the gaps, and the gaps are constantly getting smaller in size and fewer in number. Have scientists and philosophers explained everything? No, and I doubt they ever will. But the rational fallback position is not “God did it”, it’s simply “I dunno”.

Thirdly, there have been thousands of hypothesized gods in the history of humanity—and the number grows even larger if you count other supernatural beliefs like spirits, demons and ghosts—that are associated with different descriptions, moral and behavioural codes, and so forth. They cannot all be right. At the very least, all believers except one subset is at minimum partially deluded, or as I suspect, completely off base. But if all groups but one are actually wrong, and there are fervent believers in all camps, and there are multiple camps who provide arguments that are as strong as their cultural competitors, then how do we know which is correct? And if the evidence is weak, and we have historical and contemporary evidence that people clearly can sincerely hold delusional beliefs, then couldn’t we honestly and reasonably assert that in general, people of religious faith are holding delusional beliefs? Some might say that they might all be catching incomplete slices of the whole pie that is the true God. Maybe. But then does it really make sense to follow any particular religious tradition under the assumption that it has come from God, rather than following what seems to be good advice based on its content rather than its author from a variety of religious and secular perspectives?

Lastly, I’ll briefly consider experiences of God. Some religious people have had personal experiences that they attribute to God. Some have had dreams of God. Some have had waking experiences in which they have felt the presence or heard the voice of the Holy Spirit. While I’ll be the first to admit that such experiences can no doubt be very compelling—especially when one considers this in light of the fact that many many others have had similar experiences. However, such experiences really aren’t that surprising. The idea of a God is deeply entrenched in our culture. God is cited in national anthems, Charters, common expressions, and well, just about everywhere to some degree or other. Given the prevalence of this meme—i.e., culturally transmitted idea—and what is believed about it—that the hypothesized being is all-powerful, all-knowing, has a personal interest in each of us, is the arbiter of morality, reward and punishment—it is not at all surprising that many of us will have God crop up in dreams from time to time. I mean, I’ve had plenty of dreams in which some of the characters were people that I don’t recall ever having seen while awake and some of the settings were places to which I have never been. If my mind can create these characters and settings, it does not seem like a great leap to suggest that it could create a cultural heavyweight like God.

Next, lets consider waking experiences. First, hallucinations. Lets begin by acknowledging that many people have hallucinations of things other than Gods, such as spirits, dead relatives, voices, etc. Some have these experiences regularly, some very irregularly. If one can hallucinate a spirit, a dead relative,  or familiar or unfamiliar voices, why wouldn’t they be able to hallucinate an experience with a culturally-enshrined superpower? Secondly, lets consider experiences felt during worship. In church some people report feelings of a loss of sense of self, a feeling that one is a part of something bigger than themselves, or a direct connection with God—like they are being embraced in a warm hug from the heavenly father. These sorts of experiences are not unique to Church, Synagogue, Mosque, or Temple-goers. Similar experiences are reported by secular meditators and those taking in part in impassioned political rallies, rock concerts, and other large emotionally-loaded mob-based activities in which many people, particularly strangers, come together to share in something of deep common interest. The loss of the sense of self, feelings of connectedness with others and the whole of reality, and the like are experiences that can be achieved in a number of secular and religious settings, and are generally described as being very positive and often life-changing. Experiences such as those cultivated in meditation can and should be sought, as they can truly add to the quality of one’s life, the development of wisdom, and self-efficacy. And they can be sought without having to subscribe to any supernatural beliefs. I’ve personally been engaged in meditation for a little while and I recommend it strongly.

In the coming days I will be posting a brief analysis on a Cognitive Science paper arguing that religious belief can justifiably be described as delusional. As this is a contentious matter that does pull the heart strings of many, I of course, do welcome criticism and alternative perspectives. Moreover, once more, I assure everyone that it is not my intention to deliberately offend anyone—I am merely expressing my beliefs, and am willing to discuss them. Thanks for reading.

ERRATUM:

1. In discussing whether religion is delusional, apart from the APA DSM-IV definition, I was using my own personal definition of delusion, not that of the APA. I neglected to make this clear. The personal definition that I was using had as its minimum criteria for delusion that a person believe something on insufficient evidence; there need not be incontrovertible evidence against the believed item, similar to how one would be viewed as irrational if they believed that Martians in space controlled their thoughts even though no one has ever disproved this.

2.  When I originally set out writing this article, the intent was simply to consider whether the APA’s definition of delusion includes straight-forward pandering to religious people and groups. Once I got into the writing, though, I got into the issue of whether or not religious belief actually is delusional–as you’ll come to find out, I do presently believe that it is. Had I been in the mind frame of writing a paper on this far more loaded topic, I probably would have chosen a slightly more tactful title. The reason for this is honestly not so much that I think that people should never be able to doubt the validity of religious belief as I have here in a straight-forward manner, quite to the contrary. However, given that this blog is intended to be about more than just religion and secularism, but also about Cognitive Science, Wisdom, and other areas of interest, I’m not really looking to turn off people that are interested in these other areas. I have every intention of speaking my mind about religion and other issues, and I’m not going to restrain myself from making good dispassionate rational arguments, but I do not intend to be unnecessarily offensive. I will necessarily be offensive by the nature of the content and people’s personal investment in it, but I will make effort to minimize unnecessary provocation. 

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Comments
6 Responses to “Is the American Psychiatric Association Pandering to Religious Sensibilities? Can Religious Belief Be Described As Delusional?”
  1. Aidan G says:

    I was hoping that this would in fact be an academic and open minded blog, however, contrary to your initial claim that your intent was not to offend others, reading your post leads one to conclude the exact opposite, namely that it is your sole intent to offend others.

    You define delusion as: A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary

    Note the incontrovertible and obvious proof to the contrary. Unless you can incontroveritably and obviously prove God does not exist, your post is nothing more than close minded offensive biggotry. I mean, lets call a spade a spade shall we. Your assertation fails to meet your own definition. Scholars and philosophers have been trying to argue the existence of God for millenia, and here you are arrogant enough to assert that you have solved this problem.

    There goes rational thought, you have as much credibility as Pat Robertson, the KKK or any other dogmatic, unthinking, close minded idiot.

  2. ronbrown says:

    I don’t see how it was my sole intent–or my intent at all.

    “Note the incontrovertible and obvious proof to the contrary. Unless you can incontroveritably and obviously prove God does not exist, your post is nothing more than close minded offensive biggotry. I mean, lets call a spade a spade shall we. Your assertation fails to meet your own definition. Scholars and philosophers have been trying to argue the existence of God for millenia, and here you are arrogant enough to assert that you have solved this problem.”

    Aidan, this is ridiculous. We also haven’t disproved the existence of Thor, but not many of us would be nearly as charitable with Thorians as we are with people that believe Jesus to have been imaculately conceived. I need not disprove any belief for which there is grossly insufficient evidence for belief in order to say that it is irrational to believe in. An infinite range of things are undisprovable and thus technically possible, but if we set that as our standard for intellectual respectability we have set it at the second lowest level possible–the only thing lower is to continue believing what has been completely and utterly disproven, something that may not always or ever even be possible anyway.

    As for scholars and philosophers arguing for the existence of God for millenia, isn’t it kind of odd that after all this time the believers have provided very very weak arguments. Lets go through some of the lines of argument. 1) You can’t disprove God. I addressed this above. 2) How else did everything get here? This is an argument from ignorance. It says “since I don’t know how everything came to be, a God–nay, THIS God–must have done it. 3) Arguments from personal experience. I addressed this in the initial posting. 4) Since we have never proven that love exists but we believe in it, religious belief is respectable because it’s the same thing–a leap of faith. This also falls short. When I say that I believe in love, I mean that I believe in my own experience of it–direct first-hand experience of an inherently first hand thing. Could I be wrong about it? Sure. If I’m not experiencing love right now, it could be argued that any memory I have of it is illusory–for all I know I just came into existence 10 seconds ago and all my “memories” are fake. Compare love to God. Putting them on par with each other is inappropriate, because love refers to first-hand subjective experience. When people say that they have had direct experience with God, they are making an inference from their first hand experience to the world. I am not arguing against their first hand experience–which is the only thing that is truly analogous to God; rather, I am arguing against their inference, much as I would argue against a person who based on the first hand experience of love came to believe that Cupid exists and is the author of love. 5) The same way that we cannot know that our experience of God does or does not correspond to the objective existence of the actual God, we cannot know that our perceptual experience of things “out there” such as people and objects correspond to something real and true. Okay, maybe not. But consider a few things. i) We absolutely need to believe in certain things just to get by; we can try out the possibility of assuming that other people aren’t there, or that there bodies are there but they don’t have minds, that nothing at all is out there, or that gravity will stop applying in 5 seconds, but where would that get us? Probably thrown in jail, a psych ward, or killed because we just walked off of a building. Moreover, how would we like it if others acted as if they were the only one’s who had feelings? Maybe all of this external world is one big hallucination–maybe I’m writing to no one right now because you are merely a figment of my imagination; hell, maybe this computer doesn’t even exist, I’m asleep, or only existed as a single deluded mind with no connection to anything outside of itself–just a self-contained delusion-producing and following spiritual machine. This could be true. But what good would it do for me to live according to this notion? At minimum, I am in the middle of a mindblowingly compelling illusion. If I am punished it will genuinely be aversive. So even if the punishment is all an illusion or a dream, the aversiveness will be experienced as being real, so I should act as if it were real. Now, you may say that you have no idea if doing something wrong will result in punishment because you have no idea that the rules will still be the same or that the world will still be there after you commit the act. This, too, is true. I have no idea that the world–social and/or physical–won’t radically change very soon, or may cease to exist. While I freely admit this–and thus pledge to being ultimately agnostic regarding all such potentialities–what am I to do? The only thing I have is my experience and reasoning skills which have shown themselves to generally be beneficial. So, it’s either go with the data and tested abilities I have, or just start flipping infinitely-sided coins. While I cannot know that things will continue to go as they’ve been going, taking the road of reason and evidence seems to be the only thing that even comes close to being a justified path.

    Going back to the issue that scholars and philosophers have been trying to argue the existence of God for millenia, and that I am arrogant for asserting that I have solved the problem. Here’s how I view this issue: this debate has continued far longer than is warranted by the relative strength of the different sides’ position. This debate, in my opinion, has continued because a certain large subset of society has continued to unjustifiably disqualify powerful argumentation against the validity of their beliefs, to exist in social networks in which members bolster each others’ beliefs and rarely debate the core beliefs, and in many cases, to live in networks–e.g., immediate and extended families, local communities, religious congregations–in which it is socially risky to “rock the boat” by challenging prevailing views; moreover, most religious people live in a society where a one or more of a few social architectures are in place: a) the grand majority of people in the society believe pretty much the same things about God, so people rarely here dissenting views and rarely think to entertain them (a relevant aside: I learned in the Pascal Boyer book I read and cited above that in some parts of the world people hold religious-type spiritual/superstitious beliefs and don’t even realize it because everyone believes it; it is simply culturally enshrined tacit mutual understanding for which there is no known alternative–they make no distinction between these beliefs and the more mundane ones; to them, they are mundane); b) people live in a society where there is more than one religious community, but the communities demonize each other, and so most people don’t give much credence to the beliefs of members of the other community; c) people live in a society like ours where most people find it to be very awkward and uncivil to say the kind of things that I wrote above; thus, people can go about their lives without having their beliefs subjected to much criticism–though, this does seem to be changing to a meaningful degree in some parts of the world.

    I do not think that it is any credit to religious communities that literal belief in the teachings of their holy books is still held. I personally think this to be a negative. I’m absolutely not saying that there aren’t a lot of lessons worth carrying forward from religious traditions. On the contrary. I’m sure that these traditions have produced mountains of wisdom that we would be unwise to not keep on hand. But I don’t think that we should accept these wise passages as wise simply because they come from the Bible, Koran, or any other religious text, I think we should evaluate them the same way we would evaluate a secular text on issues of philosophy, morality and the living of individual and social life.

    Have I solved the problem, as you alluded to? On one hand I think that I, like many others, have solved it. I think I have at the intellectual level solved the issue of whether or not it is reasonable based on the evidence to believe in God. The only thing that I have any real hesitation about is the issue of the compelling personal experience. I can surely have a lot of sympathy for those who have claimed with deep sincerity to have had profound personal experiences. While I argue that such experiences do not constitute strong evidence, as people of other religions have had them, too, and the God meme is strong in our culture so it wouldn’t be too surprising to have a dream with God, for instance, I can still have sympathy for how compelling these experiences could surely be. However, in these cases though I think it could be worthwhile to present arguments such as those that I have presented regarding these experience to these people, and to introduce them to people of other faiths and secular persons who’ve had experiences of other Gods, or other religious-like experiences (e.g., loss of sense of self).

    There’s another area, however, aside from the intellectual side in which I make absolutely no claims to have solved anything. This is the pragmatic side. It is absolutely true that billions of people find much of their life purpose, meaning and value within their religiously-framed perspective of reality. I myself have experienced how traumatic it can be to see my framing of reality come falling down–to see my personal self-esteem receive its biggest threat, to see my perceived place in society challenged, to see my sense of purpose and direction disappear. It, as you know as you were with me through it all–as I’ll always appreciate–was the most brutal experience I’ve ever had to go through and I almost didn’t make it. Now, I’m on the other side and think that I’m better for having come to accept that I had been living a misguided life that set me up for constant anxiety and instability (note: any implication to religion right there was involuntary–and when I say things like this, or that I don’t mean to offend, I mean it, if I mean to offend I’ll let it be known, rather than denying it). This experience has given me some idea of the problems that can be posed by challenging religious beliefs which frame peoples views on what is relevant and important, and which connect people. I will not say that I know how to cross these bridges. I do think that establishing social groups in which people come together to do things like meditate, discuss issues of meaning and morality, to engage in enjoyable community and family activities such as engaging in cooperative team projects and recreational activities, and have regular meetings with other such communities so that communities don’t diverge too much from one another and learn and help from each other are likely to be integral ingredients to addressing this issue, but they are not the complete solution. And frankly, given issues such as local and international wealth and power disparities and disenfranchisement, the polarizing of groups along differences of wealth, power, language, religion, values AND location (i.e., groups differing along all of these dimensions simultaneously), in addition to the willful insularity of many people into their communities (particularly some Islamic communities, whom from what I understand have had a history of bad experiences with secular outsiders, and thus have every reason to be skeptical and averse to secularism), I’m surely not of the opinion that seeing huge sweeping changes in favour of secularism is something that will necessarily happen.

    I’ll close by addressing your final statement. I really do not see where I have been irrational, closed-minded, or dogmatic. I merely addressed the issue of whether religious belief may be honestly and reasonably considered delusional and presented what I felt to be a straight forward and dispassionate case.

    One more thing. On a regular basis, you suggest that I deliberately try to be offensive on issues of religion. I’ll admit that there surely have been times when I have said things that are pretty clearly derogatory about particular religious persons, subgroups, or belief systems–these remarks tend to be focused on what I consider to be the unreason of belief and the deplorableness of actions that seem to stem directly from such beliefs. But, when I say that I do not intend to offend, I mean it. The problem with discussing religion is that when it comes to criticizing the core beliefs of a religion or subset of religions (e.g., the existence of their God), it is seemingly impossible to *not* be offensive. I mean, how does one go about arguing that a person or group’s most cherished beliefs are unreasonable and not offend them? You know that my view of religious beliefs is that they are delusional–how could I possibly have expressed my right to express this view without being offensive? As I see it, I made efforts to minimize offense. I stated at the beginning and intend that it wasn’t my intent to offend. I also said that most religious people are just as reasonable in all other spheres of contemplation. I even asserted that the formation of religious-type beliefs is a common and normal aspect of mental development. I didn’t engage in any name calling. I suppose, though, that the very title of the post comes off as unnecessarily negative. That, honestly, was a mistake on my part. When I first started the article I meant to simply profile the APA definition of delusion, provide my view that it is not simply pandering, but does follow from psychological and cultural analysis. However, I ended up just going on and writing more and forgot about the title altogether, not noticing it again until now as I re-reviewed the article to make sure that it was academic and not unnecessarily inflamatory.

    It is surely not my intent to be juvenile and unneccessarily ire-raising on this blog. This blog is not about pointing and laughing at my religious neighbours. It is about addressing a lot of issues. A big subset of these issues is religion and relevant politics and cognitive science. Given my beliefs, articles like this one are going to occur on a regular basis. But I also want this to be a place to consider issues in wisdom and meditation, popular Cognitive Science, other areas of Science, and so forth. Given these interests, I don’t really want to alienate people with my religion-relevant content unnecessarily, but I do have every intention of discussing religion and relevant issues as I’ve been doing. Moreover, given that you and I have been talking about co-running this blog, and that you have a few other friends who could very well add to it significantly, and not to mention that you’re one of my best friends, I really don’t take any joy in offending you.

  3. Chris "What of It" Ringwood says:

    I believe the Toronto Blue Jays will win the 2008 World Series?

    LOCK ME UP JOHNNNY

  4. Chris "What of It" Ringwood says:

    I believe the Toronto Blue Jays will win the 2008 World Series.

    LOCK ME UP JOHNNY

  5. ronbrown says:

    A few more comments on the exchange between myself and Aidan:
    1) Aidan correctly pointed out a flaw in my original argument. Because I didn’t say that I was no longer using the APA definition of delusion, the rational inference is that I was continuing to use it throughout. Actually, when I began speaking about my views on religious beliefs qualifying as delusional I was actually using my own personal definition of delusion, for which the minimum requirement is to believe in something for which there is insufficient evidence–but not necessarily incontrovertable evidence to the contrary. I neglected to specify that.

    While there is strong evidence against *the need to posit* a God–e.g., we have naturalized a great deal of what people before explained using gods (e.g., rain, the sun cycles, thunder, species, etc.), and there is strong argument against the rational validity of believing in a particular God or a God in general, there is not, to my knowledge, a knock-out argument that disproves the existence of a God in general–though there is strong evidence against particular Gods like that of the Bible.

    2) Aidan and I just got off the phone, after speaking for fully 1 hour and 40 minutes. Just to fill everyone in, as much as his comments suggest otherwise, we’ve actually been really good friends for a number of years. And honestly, I was kind of worried that he viewed me as having heavily crossed some line with the posting in question–not so much in presenting my views, but because he is pretty confident that I am genuinely trying to offend people which really I’m not. As I admitted above, there have been times in the past when I have done this, but y’know what, it’s for me not to say disparaging things. I do believe that religious belief is irrational. Now, that alone doesn’t lead me to go joining secularist organizations (which I have) and starting up a blog where one of the key areas of consideration is religion and secularism. What produces these behaviours is the social consequences that organized religion has for society. If we truly did live in a secular society in which religion actually was private and had no significant social consequences, my religion-related activities would likely be reserved to occasional basement and coffee shop conversations with friends. It’s not just the irrationality. It’s the social consequences. Some of the consequences that I care about a fair bit are the social awkwardness of ever criticizing religious beliefs publicly, the social pressure many people feel to not admit being skeptical of their family or community’s belief system, the distrust and marginalization of nontheists in many places in the world and the promulgated view that there is something morally difficient with nonbelievers, indoctrination of youth–presenting them singular views of reality, censoring other perspectives–which *some* religious communities engage in, the creation of boundaries for rational discourse, and numerous instances in which religious groups attempt to apply their values to everyone. Now, Aidan would reply to this by saying that I am trying to impose my secular values onto everyone. Really, what I want is a society that bases its values on honest open rational discourse with a genuine concern for the well-being and rights of citizens. Now, of course this leads to a whole world of unanswerable moral questions that are simply unavoidable and have to be dealt with. I don’t think, though, that subscribing to a religious theory is the answer.

    3) In our conversation, Aidan said that in order to understand religious belief, I need to read the books. Aside from reading the first 15-20 pages of the Bible, I haven’t read any original source religious materials. He’s encouraged me to do so numerous times over the last year or so. I had a few reasons for not. The first and most important is that I’ve found no reason to believe that their contents are true. I’ve tried to find such reason–by speaking to many religious persons, reading arguments for belief and so on, but I’ve reliably found unsatisfactory evidence. The Bible and Koran are not small texts that you can just casually read through on a Sunday afternoon. They’re lengthy and require disciplined reading. Given that I’m a slow reader on top of this and have lots of other things that I would like to read, I felt that my reading time could be better spent elsewhere, reading things for which I have reason to believe that the contents are what they say they are. However, Aidan has said that a key part of the religious experience is that when you read the texts something pretty much just sings to you. Something clicks. You have an experience that no other book has generated in you. Unless I can understand this, then I’m essentially arguing with my eyes closed, not really knowing what I’m criticizing.

    I’ve agreed to read one of them. I’ll likely go with the Koran–I think it’s shorter. I’m not trying to be funny, but that really is the reason. But I will give it a genuine read. Openminded and attentive.

    However, I still–as you surely guessed–have skepticism. Primarily the thing is this: even if this book does resonate with me like no other ever has, that doesn’t change all the things I wrote above and all the other arguments I’d give in a comprehensive argument against theism. For one thing, if I take to the Koran, it is still the case that around 2 billion Christians–to varying degrees of sincerity and depth–feel the same way about the Bible as I do about the Koran; same for like nearly a billion Hindus. To this, Aidan has said that perhaps God is something bigger than each of the religions we know. Perhaps God is like a book and each or some of the religions contains some of the pages but not the whole thing. This is of course a possibility. But again, I’m not as of yet compelled to believe this. As everyone has surely already gathered, my perspective is that there is not sufficient evidence to warrant the rational belief in a god (assuming that the individual knows about such things as that other people believe other religions and about the discoveries of science), many of the reasons that religion originally arose are no longer applicable (e.g., the germ theory obviates the need to theorize about witchcraft or an angry god; Intelligent Design Creationism is unequivocally supplanted by evolutionary biology; etc.), so we need not posit a God to explain everything we cannot explain, and moreover, we’ve learned that what seems unexplainable now need not always be and, moreover, that just because we can’t figure something out doesn’t mean that God did it, and lastly, there is evidence from Cognitive and Developmental Psychology as well as the history of spiritual thinking that humans do seem to have an inclination to infer agency inappropriately.

    But, I will slowly get through at least one of these books. And I will do so with an open mind.

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  1. […] comes to expressing our lack of confidence in religious beliefs. Recently a good friend of mine, after reading my post on the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of delusion and my …, accused me of being on par with Pat Robertson or the KKK, saying that I am as intolerant, though […]



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