# People who believe in god are broken

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I recall Iggy comparing religious people to insane people that have the potential to turn evil at the drop of a hat. My only modifications to that idea would be that it probably depends on the current power of one's faith in a religious leader, and it might depend on one's tendency toward thinking critically since a critical thinker is less likely to establish faith.

I thought of another modification: a religious person's faith in the rightness of kindness?

Religions usually do teach that kindness is right, although I doubt many teach that kindness is always right, especially when it comes to members of out-groups, a.k.a. "sinners," "heathens," "paganists," etc.

Anyway, I think that is still faith because one cannot logically prove that kindness is right. Typically, the rightness of kindness is enforced by social interaction, but it might also be enforced by faith to a certain degree.

This throws a curve ball to the idea that stronger religiosity always causes greater potential for irrational evil. If somebody has very strong faith in kindness being right, they might not turn evil at the say so of a religious leader who they have comparably less faith in. Their faith in the rightness of kindness might even be psychologically intertwined with their faith in the existence of their god, although I wouldn't accept this without scientific evidence.

Am I just not thinking as critically today? This sounds like an argument a theist would make!

Edited by Mondays Assignment: Die

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It's easier to commit atrocity if you think you are directly executing on gods will, obeying the instructions of a supreme deity, or if you think your actions are being sanctioned by the most powerful entity possible throughout the entire universe.

The likelihood that you will commit astocities, however, is largely dependent on what you've been taught in your local tribe, and what specific values your local pack/community worships or adheres to... Dependent upon what local examples are set and what local demands are made by the local spiritual or religious leader.

I see no problems or inconsistencies in the position you've just articulated.

Edited by iNow
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The likelihood that you will commit astocities, however, is largely dependent on what you've been taught in your local tribe, and what specific values your local pack/community worships or adheres to... Dependent upon what local examples are set and what local demands are made by the local spiritual or religious leader.

There might be other factors too, such as biologically-linked predispositions towards certain beliefs, although such explanations might suggest that these irrational beliefs are actually psychological defenses for biologically determined preferences. Such alternative explanations for beliefs justify my emphasis on the requirement of scientific evidence for a psychological intertwine-ment of faith in god and faith in kindness. Said "emphasis" was edited into my post in bold text, like this.

EDIT: Yes! Yes! That's it! A theist would like for us to think that theism promotes kindness, but it isn't that simple!

Edited by Mondays Assignment: Die
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It is easy to dismiss the 'pentecostal church experience' (for lack of a better phrase) as not mentally ill. These people may think they are possessed and God is speaking through them in tongues on Sunday, but Monday rolls around and they're back to selling mortgages and teaching kindergarten. They turn it off.

But, what about the devout Muslim who hears Allah's voice telling him to blow up a bus full of children and subsequently does exactly that? What about the devout Christian who kills an abortion doctor on God's say so? You can't doubt the reality or the severity of their delusion. How is their delusion less mentally ill than the guy duct taping his ears with paper cups?

The actions you give as examples are morally reprehensible to me, but I don't equate that to mentally ill (nor vice versa). The people doing them may be mentally ill, but they might also be sane people who use religious language to justify actions motivated by other concerns. Most terrorists, to the best of my knowledge, do not claim to have had personal communication with a god. They're usually just relatively ordinary people angry enough to be violent. In a world of media sensationalism, terrorism might even be a thoroughly rational strategy.

However, if there were a terrorist who constantly heard God's voice telling him to kill people, that would sound like a mental illness. But that is not the kind of people that comprise the Taliban or Al Qaeda or the IRA. The leader of the Lord's Resistance Army evidently does have regular possession experiences and also support horrible violent acts, but it really looks to me that he's not a bit crazy, just a thug on a grand scale, with a talent for manipulating religion and religious experience.

In what ways do you propose it's functionally different? I suspect you cannot name any.

From my perspective, the only thing different here is that one is considered acceptable by society and the other is not. One of these unfounded beliefs is granted special deference and given undue deference wherein the other is not. However, we're not talking about societal acceptance here... We're talking about the nature of the belief itself, and in that case belief in god(s) is precisely the same as your paper clipped ear friend on the streets who believes aliens are trying to get into his brain.

If you're asking a philosophical question about epistemology, in a significant way you're right. Maybe not in every way, depending on your epistemology, but anyway that's philosophy and I was talking about psychology.

Psychologically the difference is obvious. As "Iggy" said, ordinary religious experience can be effectively shut off most of the time, so that people can drive their cars to work and so on. You used the word "functional" and that's

With perhaps all psychological problems, there is a spectrum rather than a binary dichotomy, and we could probably find all kinds of cases where it's hard to tell whether someone's just very religious or if they've started to be a little mentally ill. That's the same with anything, from fear of germs to wanting to be thin to whatever else: there is a spectrum of intensity, but generally it's easy to tell whether someone is just insecure about his weight or has an eating disorder.

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I think I know why I was struggling with understanding how I created a strawman. It was because I didn't create a strawman. According to Wikipedia:

A strawman requires that I misrepresent an opponent's position. I didn't misrepresent anyone's position. (Please tell me whose argument I misrepresented if you disagree.) What I did instead was make an assertion of my own.

I'm fine with not calling it a strawman. I may give that word less negative connotation than the average person.

I just hope we can recognize that the premise is not right. I mean -- this is a true statement:

If people are broken for holding unproven beliefs then people who believe in God and people who believe in the big bang are both broken.

It is a correct assertion in the same way that "if earth has no liquid water then it has no life" is correct. In both cases the premise needs shot down. Nobody is arguing from the premise that unproven beliefs make for broken people and I know that isn't something you would think is true, so... somebody get ronnie the spambot back. I think we've got this squared away.

I think you were right when you said that my assertion is wrong unless I can link belief in a scientific theory (falsibiable) with belief in the supernatural (not falsifiable). That is the weakness of my assertion.

I realize it doesn't make much difference either way, you still think I'm wrong, but I'm still trying to figure all this out for myself.

Fair enough. I'm not entirely convinced that belief in god necessarily makes someone broken myself. I'm sure there are good reasons to believe things and bad reasons. I have only ever seen bad reasoning for god -- rationalizations, wishful thinking, bad logic... and so on.

I feel much more comfortable calling humanity out -- saying that humanity itself has some defect -- that we are broken as a species for our collective tendency to anthropomorphize nature into gods. I would rather people fight their nature and use the objective tools they have for determining what's real. I mean... how many times do you have to cry "God" to an empty sky before you get the point? Not that failing to get it makes them broken... it may just make them human.

I'll put it this way: if belief in god makes a person broken then I wouldn't want a human species of unbroken people. I would rather have something of an imperfect nature to struggle against.

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...they make this claim based on faith alone, and they are quite broken for doing so.

So the criterion for being broken is accepting something as true based on faith alone?

If people are broken for holding unproven beliefs then people who believe in God and people who believe in the big bang are both broken.

There is a difference in these two 'beliefs'. Belief in god, by the usual definitions of god, can have no supporting evidence (personal experience not being evidence of anything but personal experience), while the big bang theory can theoretically be demonstrated to be untrue. The former then, is only amenable to faith, the latter is also open to empirical verification.

This might change depending on more subtle definitions of god, but i think most of us a using the Abrahamic model of god.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anyway, there are a couple of points i made earlier i feel have not yet been addressed with regard to people believing in god being broken.

1). 'Broken' implies a teleology to evolution, that there is a particular way humans should think. Rather, there is no 'should' in evolution, and people cannot be broken simply for being evolutionary products.

2a.) Most people believe in god(s). It is the norm in human society (i think we all agree, even if we don't like it). When regarding people as broken (in the context of regarding 'broken' as a mental illness) the former statement contravenes the latter statement by most definitions of mental health. This doesn't apply if the criterion for being broken is accepting something as true based on faith alone (unless it is claimed that also constitutes mental illness).

2b). Further to the above statement i would further extend that the majority of people believe things on faith alone, including scientific facts. Most people are willing to believe in god if all their lives people have said god exists. Most people will believe in black holes if all their lives people have said they exist. While it is clear that these two things are not in the same category for evidence (there being no evidence that could disprove god), most people simply don't care and will believe what they are told, when they are told, so long as they have food on the table, can get drunk and vote on x-factor (or am i just cynical?).

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There is a difference in these two 'beliefs'. Belief in god, by the usual definitions of god, can have no supporting evidence...

Your point that the "usual" definition of god can't have supporting evidence... it is admittedly painful, but could you read 1 Kings 18:18-39 and see if Elijah's definition of god was verifiable?

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Your point that the "usual" definition of god can't have supporting evidence... it is admittedly painful, but could you read 1 Kings 18:18-39 and see if Elijah's definition of god was verifiable?

A god that regularly performed miracles would be verifiable. Remember only that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

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Most terrorists, to the best of my knowledge, do not claim to have had personal communication with a god. They're usually just relatively ordinary people angry enough to be violent.

This seems like a profoundly unsupportable assertion, and yet you are using it as the foundation of your entire point. I'd caution you against that.

With perhaps all psychological problems, there is a spectrum rather than a binary dichotomy, and we could probably find all kinds of cases where it's hard to tell whether someone's just very religious or if they've started to be a little mentally ill.

I made essentially this exact same point myself earlier in the thread... I even used the same term, "it's not a binary state" when I shared with others that there is a spectrum of mental illness. I'm unsure why you felt the need to address that same reminder to me here in this instance.

So the criterion for being broken is accepting something as true based on faith alone?

That's one of the criteria, but not the only one.

Anyway, there are a couple of points i made earlier i feel have not yet been addressed with regard to people believing in god being broken.

1). 'Broken' implies a teleology to evolution, that there is a particular way humans should think. Rather, there is no 'should' in evolution, and people cannot be broken simply for being evolutionary products.

As I shared earlier, we can call it childish instead, then.

2a.) Most people believe in god(s). It is the norm in human society (i think we all agree, even if we don't like it). When regarding people as broken (in the context of regarding 'broken' as a mental illness) the former statement contravenes the latter statement by most definitions of mental health.

I have addressed this already. If "most people" believed that slavery was okay that doesn't mean it's correct, unbroken, or appropriate. If "most people' believed that raping young boys would end world hunger, that would not make the belief itself any less broken. The issues of belief prevalence and frequency are wholly moot and irrelevant since the focus is on the nature of the belief itself, not how commonly it is held nor how popular it is.

The fact that "most people" believe in god(s) has no bearing whatsoever on the brokenness of said belief.

2b). Further to the above statement i would further extend that the majority of people believe things on faith alone, including scientific facts.

This still is not an argument against that being a very broken approach.

Most people are willing to believe in god if all their lives people have said god exists. Most people will believe in black holes if all their lives people have said they exist. While it is clear that these two things are not in the same category for evidence (there being no evidence that could disprove god), most people simply don't care and will believe what they are told, when they are told...

I agree with you that this is the nature of our current society. I disagree that this argument speaks in any way, shape, or form against the idea that this is a childish, poor, and even broken way to exist.

Edited by iNow
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It's an interesting topic, and cool to continue. Hopefully the staff will split it off.

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Inow,

I have forgotten if we allowed belief in a personal God to be unbroken.

The U.S Constitution (wisely in my estimation) allowed for it, with the provision that it be a church thing, not a state thing.

That an individual was responsible for his or her relationship with God, and that relationship should neither be affected by the state or have effect on the running of state business.

That one could serve their God, and serve their state, but the state should serve all regardless of the religious beliefs held by each person.

Wise, in that nearly everybody then, and most people now, do listen to some quiet sure voice within them, that tells them the difference between right and wrong.

There are not enough police, or cameras to watch everybody, all the time. We have to police ourselves, listen to our conscience, do the right thing, on our own, when nobody but ourself is watching or caring or responsible...or we wouldn't have a society.

That these rules we each go by, are self generated, is a reasonable assumption. They are the rules we have learned from our individual interaction with objective reality. We each, I theorize, come up with that combination of rules that best serves all the constituents we value.

But here (if true) is where there is some evidence for God. Because after yourself, there is your family and friends you must do it right by, and the organizations of which you are a member, and your fellow organisms on this Earth, and the Earth itself, and our Sun. All "things", real things in an objective reality, that any human could in truth, call "his" or "her's". That any one of us, can and does "know" this objective reality as "his" or "her's", that is responsible for creating them, and that they are responsible to, that they "know" existed before they were born, and they "know" will exist after they die. That we each know is eternal (or at least has a beginning and end far enough removed from our personal lifetime to be a close approximation to eternal) and we each "know" it could be infinite in size and scale (or at least stretch between the size of a quark and the size of a universe)...and STILL we consider the whole shooting match "ours"...the one and only universe that TAR2 was made by, and responsible to...

If I believe in this thing, that I KNOW is real, and I believe in myself, and life on Earth, that is but a tiny flash within the enormity of space and time, how could I either be wrong, or have generated the rules, by myself?

Regards, TAR2

Edited by tar
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Faith=KNOWING, what you don't know.

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It's an interesting topic, and cool to continue. Hopefully the staff will split it off.

!

Moderator Note

Done. I have split off Mondays Assignment: DIE!'s interesting and natural branch on moral codes into a new thread in Ethics here.

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This seems like a profoundly unsupportable assertion, and yet you are using it as the foundation of your entire point. I'd caution you against that.

On the contrary, there has been a lot of study of terrorists. A good example relevant in this instance is Pape's study, which found that most "religious" suicide terrorism was clearly motivated at least as much by politics, and almost never involved mental illness.

http://www.amazon.com/Dying-Win-Strategic-Suicide-Terrorism/dp/0812973380/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

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To gladly return and echo iNow's previous thoughtfulness toward me... I'm hesitant to speak out of turn without saying that he's more than capable of speaking for himself.

You link a book by a secular educated political scientist with a doctorate regarding strategic air power. It is no surprise that the principle incitements he attributes to suicide attackers are secular, political, and strategic. I can't know what Pape's motivations and biases are for writing the book any more than I can know the motivations and biases of suicide killers, but I could just as easily cite material no less credible directly opposed to what you're saying...

Most glaringly, they insisted that suicide terrorists are unusual because of their actions, but not psychologically abnormal. Ideologically radical, for sure, but not mentally ill. Willing to die, but not suicidal. As Jerrold Post, a prominent political psychologist and former CIA analyst explained in 2006, "One of the most striking aspects about the psychology of terrorists is that as individuals, this is normal behavior. The terrorists involved in 9/11 had subordinated their individuality to the group. And whatever their destructive, charismatic leader, Osama bin Laden, said was the right thing to do for the sake of the cause was what they would do." By this view, the 9/11 hijackers were just like most ordinary people, whom studies have shown are generally obedient to authority, even when ordered to use violence.

But when it comes to the particular case of suicide terrorists, the academic evidence suggests otherwise. Research increasingly shows that many are motivated far more by personal crises, mental-health problems, and suicidal desires than by ideology or commitment to the cause. It should be little surprise, then, that terrorist recruiters often exploit the vulnerability of these desperate individuals to further their own ideological goals.

For instance, when clinical psychologists in Israel recently tested 15 preemptively arrested suicide bombers, they found that 53 percent displayed depressive tendencies, 40 percent displayed suicidal tendencies, 20 percent showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 13 percent had previously attempted suicide, unrelated to terrorism.

I don't think it is so clear cut to peer into the mind of a clearly disturbed person and discern their motivations. Linda Grant wrote something I find relevant... "Some research has been done on the motives of suicide bombers, by interviewing those who failed to pull it off. Amazingly, they reported that they did it because it was cool. Now in prison, their principal request is for hair gel. I kid you not."

Of course, that is the response we would expect a crazy person to give, but I think it illustrates something more meaningful about our inability to get at their real motivations.

Besides which, does the act of a religious suicide attack itself demonstrate mental illness. I think so. Suicide isn't generally categorized as mentally healthy. But I'm one of those secular educated western political types who frankly doesn't give two thoughts to the idea that martyrdom is the only guaranteed way mentioned in the Quran for entering paradise. It's all Greek to me.

Edited by Iggy
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On the contrary, there has been a lot of study of terrorists. A good example relevant in this instance is Pape's study, which found that most "religious" suicide terrorism was clearly motivated at least as much by politics...

I agree with the response Iggy offered, and think it does a fine job of supplementing my original point. I might just add this. Just because politics played a role in the suicide bombers decision does not mean their beliefs about, thoughts about, and perceived communications with god were not a major factor.

Regardless, I think whether or not they truly hear gods voice is besides the point. It's not mentally healthy, and it's facilitated and catalyzed by the preceding belief they held based upon faith and wish thinking alone.

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Faith $\ne$ Incomplete Evidence. It's claiming to know something you do not know. I was not conflating them in the manner you suggest, and people don't accept the big bang based on faith. It's a false comparison.

Anyone claiming to KNOW anything about anything objective is most definitely broken, at best we can only ever hold beliefs about the objective and the only KNOW we can possess is subjective eg. I know what the meaning of the word know is because I have given it that meaning. We might agree with other's beliefs in objective reality and confuse that with knowing but ultimately nothing is knowable and no one can hold a true knowledge of objective reality, only a human perspective.

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To gladly return and echo iNow's previous thoughtfulness toward me... I'm hesitant to speak out of turn without saying that he's more than capable of speaking for himself.

You link a book by a secular educated political scientist with a doctorate regarding strategic air power. It is no surprise that the principle incitements he attributes to suicide attackers are secular, political, and strategic. I can't know what Pape's motivations and biases are for writing the book any more than I can know the motivations and biases of suicide killers, but I could just as easily cite material no less credible directly opposed to what you're saying...

Most glaringly, they insisted that suicide terrorists are unusual because of their actions, but not psychologically abnormal. Ideologically radical, for sure, but not mentally ill. Willing to die, but not suicidal. As Jerrold Post, a prominent political psychologist and former CIA analyst explained in 2006, "One of the most striking aspects about the psychology of terrorists is that as individuals, this is normal behavior. The terrorists involved in 9/11 had subordinated their individuality to the group. And whatever their destructive, charismatic leader, Osama bin Laden, said was the right thing to do for the sake of the cause was what they would do." By this view, the 9/11 hijackers were just like most ordinary people, whom studies have shown are generally obedient to authority, even when ordered to use violence.

But when it comes to the particular case of suicide terrorists, the academic evidence suggests otherwise. Research increasingly shows that many are motivated far more by personal crises, mental-health problems, and suicidal desires than by ideology or commitment to the cause. It should be little surprise, then, that terrorist recruiters often exploit the vulnerability of these desperate individuals to further their own ideological goals.

For instance, when clinical psychologists in Israel recently tested 15 preemptively arrested suicide bombers, they found that 53 percent displayed depressive tendencies, 40 percent displayed suicidal tendencies, 20 percent showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 13 percent had previously attempted suicide, unrelated to terrorism.

I don't think it is so clear cut to peer into the mind of a clearly disturbed person and discern their motivations. Linda Grant wrote something I find relevant... "Some research has been done on the motives of suicide bombers, by interviewing those who failed to pull it off. Amazingly, they reported that they did it because it was cool. Now in prison, their principal request is for hair gel. I kid you not."

Of course, that is the response we would expect a crazy person to give, but I think it illustrates something more meaningful about our inability to get at their real motivations.

Besides which, does the act of a religious suicide attack itself demonstrate mental illness. I think so. Suicide isn't generally categorized as mentally healthy. But I'm one of those secular educated western political types who frankly doesn't give two thoughts to the idea that martyrdom is the only guaranteed way mentioned in the Quran for entering paradise. It's all Greek to me.

Iggy,

I wouldn't say that is directly contradictory to Music's point. The post-tramatic stress people(20%), and the people who had tried killing themselves before (13%) could be among the 40% with suicidal tendencies. Which still leaves a potential 60% of the interviewees without suicidal tendencies. How many of the 53% with depressive tendencies fall into the "want to kill myself" category is also not defined in the abstract, and I don't know enough about psychology to know what level of depression would be considered mentally ill, nor what level of depression one must exhibit to be classified as having depressive tendencies. (I would even suggest that if a person didn't get depressed every once in a while, about this thing or that thing, they themselves probably have something a little "wrong" with their thinking or at least be a bit "unrealistic".) Just in general I would think that we have defined enough mental disorders that just about all of us, or at least a great majority of us, have exhibited symptoms of one or another of them, at some many points during our lives.

The hair gel thing, on the other hand is rather indicative of a "disconnected" and rather inconsistent mind, considering they evidently have rather a strong feeling of "self" in their lack of modesty, which might suggest, they were rather convinced that this "self" of their's was not going to cease, when they blew themselves up...which is evidentially quite a "crazy" idea. At least in my book, and Inow's book, and anybody's book, who understands that we cannot be human, without a human to be.

Which leads the discussion, in my mind, back to the ideas of authority and self-less-ness for the good of the collective, and what actual objective principles exist that would define when it is you are doing something for yourself, when it is you are doing something for others, and when it is you are doing something for the benefit of objective reality on objective reality's command.

Regards, TAR2

After all, humanists believe in the "progress" of humans, beyond their own individual lives. Is this "crazy"?

Or should we give humanists a pass?

Edited by tar
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We might agree with other's beliefs in objective reality and confuse that with knowing but ultimately nothing is knowable and no one can hold a true knowledge of objective reality, only a human perspective.

Even if I stipulate this point, we both agree that some things are much more certain and/or likely than others, do we not?

For example, don't we both agree that the idea that we exist on an oblate spheroid that's called earth is more likely than the idea that the farts of pink unicorns cause erections in leprechauns? I should hope so... And then ask yourself... How do we make this determination of likelihood? We use shared standards and definitions of evidence. We apply reason, logic, and rationality to experiences we have, and based on those we form a consensus that some things are so well supported as to be taken as given or treated as known, wherein other things are not well supported and are based on wish thinking alone or treated as speculative or as yet not demonstrated to be factual.

The argument here is that god is one of those things lacking in adequate evidence, and hence it is disingenuous to suggest it's on par with the cosmic inflation model or to conflate that belief with something so mundane as the idea that the sun will rise again tomorrow.

I challenge directly what theists continue to cite as "evidence" for their god, as when scrutinized it quickly becomes clear that it's nothing more than faith and nonsequitur associations between what they see in the natural world and what they believe about god(s). The equivalent would be citing the existence of thunder to support an assertion that Thor exists, and it's a profoundly laughable position for theists to suggest this type of association validly serves as "evidence."

If not broken, it's at least quite childish, silly, and wildly inconsistent with their approach to practically everything else they think and experience.

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That's one of the criteria, but not the only one.

What were the others, i can't seem to find them (how far back roughly)?

As I shared earlier, we can call it childish instead, then.

Childish implies less well thought out, under-developed reasoning. I could accept that for Abrahamic style god(s).

I have addressed this already. If "most people" believed that slavery was okay that doesn't mean it's correct, unbroken, or appropriate. If "most people' believed that raping young boys would end world hunger, that would not make the belief itself any less broken. The issues of belief prevalence and frequency are wholly moot and irrelevant since the focus is on the nature of the belief itself, not how commonly it is held nor how popular it is.

The fact that "most people" believe in god(s) has no bearing whatsoever on the brokenness of said belief.

I agree with you that this is the nature of our current society. I disagree that this argument speaks in any way, shape, or form against the idea that this is a childish, poor, and even broken way to exist.

Sorry, i seem to have missed where you addressed this too. No surprise, there's over a thousand posts on this thread.

This is parallel to the split off ethics debate, but think it's pertinent to this particular argument, so i'll say this here.

In ethics we accept a certain premise as the base of our morality (How to avoid the worst possible harm for everyone). Assuming the premise true we can then assess whether certain actions are 'right' or 'wrong' (or skillful and unskillful, or Buddhist parlance). However, we first have to accept the premise as true. This is not logical or empirical. The premise is not something that exists in the universe that can be measured. The Abrahamic god is very much measurable (and conspicuous in his absence).

Now i don't think the point is moot, if you are trying to argue that belief in god is a form of mental illness. The frequency and prevalence is entirely pertinent, in fact the biggest factor, in deciding whether someone is mentally ill or not. Is everyone on the planet was Schizophrenic, then Schizophrenia would be in the normal range of human behaviours, and so 'normal', i.e. mentally healthy.

If belief in god is to speak of our mental health, the fact that the majority of people do believe, by definition of mental health, means that these people are mentally healthy. I do not think belief in god informs us of people's mental health - the behaviour is common enough to be included in the range of normal human behaviours.

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We appear to be suffering from a sliding scale of mental illness. "Depressive tendencies" doesn't sound all that bad to me. If that's all it takes to be "broken," then yes, many theists are broken, and even more when we figure in, say, arachnophobia for some of them, others must be compulsive overeaters, and so on. Pretty soon we'll have almost all theists, maybe all, shown to be broken.

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What were the others, i can't seem to find them (how far back roughly)?

No worries. I repeated a point by point summary I'd offered just a few days ago: http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/65651-people-who-believe-in-god-are-broken/page__view__findpost__p__684473

It's doesn't necessarily encompass all of my thoughts or arguments on this issue, but it at least provides a short summary that could be delivered between floors on an elevator, for example.

Now i don't think the point is moot, if you are trying to argue that belief in god is a form of mental illness. The frequency and prevalence is entirely pertinent, in fact the biggest factor, in deciding whether someone is mentally ill or not. Is everyone on the planet was Schizophrenic, then Schizophrenia would be in the normal range of human behaviours, and so 'normal', i.e. mentally healthy.

If belief in god is to speak of our mental health, the fact that the majority of people do believe, by definition of mental health, means that these people are mentally healthy. I do not think belief in god informs us of people's mental health - the behaviour is common enough to be included in the range of normal human behaviours.

I suppose we're quibbling a bit over semantics with this, but I will offer my response to your position all the same.

It may be more "normal," but not "healthy." I used the example above to illustrate this in a more cut-and-dry accessible way. If there was widespread belief that raping young boys would end world hunger, that would not make this a "healthy" belief. It would not make the belief any less broken. It would merely make the belief more common, and a trait found often within the norm of the population, but it would not make it healthy.

Since the context of our exchange has been mental health and brokenness of the belief itself, I continue to think that prevalence of the belief is not really relevant. If everyone thought that jumping off a bridge would lead to eternal paradise for their loved ones, that would not make the belief any more mentally healthy or unbroken.

If this point has any validity, and you can appreciate what I'm suggesting, that would make the follow-on question become, why should we treat belief in god(s) any differently than belief in the idea that raping young boys will end world hunger, or belief that the farts of pink unicorns cause erections in leprechauns? My stance is that we should not.

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Even if I stipulate this point, we both agree that some things are much more certain and/or likely than others, do we not?

We certainly agree more on certain things but we can't offer an opinion on ultimate reality beyond human interpretation. It would be purely subjective of me to say reality is more likely to be like this or that but ultimately human reality is the one that we experience and therefore becomes reality as such. That doesn't mean that we can, without any doubt, know anything though.

The argument here is that god is one of those things lacking in adequate evidence, and hence it is disingenuous to suggest it's on par with the cosmic inflation model or to conflate that belief with something so mundane as the idea that the sun will rise again tomorrow.

I challenge directly what theists continue to cite as "evidence" for their god, as when scrutinized it quickly becomes clear that it's nothing more than faith and nonsequitur associations between what they see in the natural world and what they believe about god(s). The equivalent would be citing the existence of thunder to support an assertion that Thor exists, and it's a profoundly laughable position for theists to suggest this type of association validly serves as "evidence."

If not broken, it's at least quite childish, silly, and wildly inconsistent with their approach to practically everything else they think and experience.

The concept of God has been presented to us, either by man making it up or by God through the means that He has decided to use. The choice exists and there is a possibility of a creator, it's up to the individual to make a decision. What they base that decision on is entirely up to them, as is any belief. Reason, logic and rationality are all tools used based on there success in our current environment, whether or not they would be useful in 'discovering' a creator is probably unknowable. Suggesting that people that believe in God are broken doesn't make much sense to me though, how would we know they were?

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What they base that decision on is entirely up to them, as is any belief. Reason, logic and rationality are all tools used based on there success in our current environment, whether or not they would be useful in 'discovering' a creator is probably unknowable.

This strikes me as an unquestionably untenable position to hold. How any intelligent person would ever make such an argument completely baffles me.

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I do believe you have something there. A Leprechaun would indeed get excited at such a sight..

Everybody knows they like to hide their gold at the end of a rainbow.

(P.S. That's not a real unicorn, its just a drawing.)

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