Could religious belief be considered a sign of mental illness?

by nicolaou 63 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • Mr Ben
    Mr Ben

    It could be a sign of mental illness. But religious belief doesn't automatically mean the believer is mentally ill. You could turn this argument on its head if you really wanted to.

    For example, what separates sentient, thinking human being from other animals? Surely one of the main things that makes us human is that we are conscious of our mortality, of our future death.

    When we look at 100,000 year old Earth Goddess artefacts from Neanderthal burial ceremonies do we conclude they must have been mentally ill or do we conclude that they were intelligent beings because they had religious ceremonies. It proves they could imagine the future, that they were conscious of their future death. It shows they were essentially trying to take some control over the seemingly uncontrollable – i.e. their mortality.

    It could be argued therefore that religious belief demonstrates that the species is conscious, sentient, not merely driven by instinct; a being that can imagine the future and is attempting (futile though it may be) to control that future to some extent. In other words, religious belief just makes people feel better. It makes them think they have some control over their mortality.

    Of course, this behaviour can become dangerous to both the individual and to society. In this scenario of extremism then the answer your question will tend towards the affirmative. But religious belief per se is not a guarantee of mental illness.

    You could compare religious belief to a contagious disease, but that is a s far as it goes. You could compare a joke to a contagious disease, as it too is spread from mind to mind by language. Of course, you can therefore compare all ideas to a contagious disease as all ideas spread from mind to mind by language – but what purpose does such a comparison serve?

    Aging and death are pretty gloomy prospects without the emotional crutch that religious belief can bestow upon an individual. To many people their belief system helps them cope with life and the knowledge of future death. So it can be argued that in this scenario religious belief assists their mental health – it helps them to cope with the business of living.

    I wish I could believe.

  • nicolaou

    Religious belief does not define any believer as mentally ill (whatever that means) but the question does raise our consciousness about faith and the practices that derive from it.

    Consider prayer.

    Often done by the faithful with closed eyes and bowed head this is an act of communication with a supernatural being supposedly capable of anything. Think about that objectively for a moment. . . . . . . . And yet has anyone at any time ever had a prayer verifiably answered? The Lord's Prayer has been uttered billions of times over the past twenty centuries, it is perhaps the greatest human experiment in communication with the spirit realm. And it has failed.

    I don't say these things to give offence, I just want to say them.

  • Narkissos

    Hi nicolaou,

    I thought perhaps the Dostoevsky quote I just pasted on another thread might be relevant to yours, too...

  • Deputy Dog
    Deputy Dog

    Yes! If we consider atheism a religious belief.

  • Gopher
    Yes! If we consider atheism a religious belief.

    What an ignorant comment. Who considers atheism a belief? It's been pointed out several times to you and others on this forum that atheism is not a belief, but a LACK of belief in any god or gods invented or described by mankind. And even it if were a belief, what about it is "religious"?

  • BurnTheShips

    Atheism is a negation.

    It is a belief in the negation.

    That is how it presents itself.

    Only a person raised by wolves could lack belief in God and it not be a "belief".


  • Homerovah the Almighty
    Homerovah the Almighty

    How about mental irresponsibility and a insult to the humanities

    I think some people are just lazy and rather follow a guiding light to direct them their lives rather than be self directed

    One thing noted about Christians they sure love their redeeming god, some a little more than others.

  • Deputy Dog
    Deputy Dog


    Atheism is a negation.

    Exactly my point!


    What an ignorant comment. Who considers atheism a belief? It's been pointed out several times to you and others on this forum that atheism is not a belief, but a LACK of belief in any god or gods invented or described by mankind.

    Really! By other atheists? And you think I should take your word for it (by faith) or should I look at the evidence? Even the word "atheism" presupposes God. Atheists start with the presupposition that there is no God.

    And even it if were a belief, what about it is "religious"?

    Some atheists and materialists are among the most dogmatic about there beliefs.

  • Caedes

    No theism isn't a sign of mental illness, but gnosticism appears to be.

    Gladiator I believe in the trinity God the Father, the son Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit, any one of these Gods can take care of all of your gods with one breath.

    Real one,

    what are you 12 years old? My god is bigger than your god?! Pathetic. Do have any clue just how stupid that makes you sound? It's nice to see a really respectful attitude to a fellow theist simply because his choice of deity differs from yours.


    Only a person raised by wolves could lack belief in God and it not be a "belief".

    I can assure you that wolves were wiped out in the UK centuries ago

    It has been pointed out that atheism is a lack of belief, do you simply not believe in santa claus or do you know that he is not real. Personally I lack belief in all things for which there is no evidence, that is not a belief or a religion but simple common sense.

    Deputy dog,

    Does your lack of belief in Thor presuppose that he exists? No, you know he doesn't exist because there is no evidence to prove he does.

  • R.Crusoe

    Collective agreement is what liberates most groups of humans from perceived mental illness!

    Consider some of the cultish groups!

    Consider some historical tribal beliefs and practices!

    Consider some present activists!



    There is more proof than one can assimilate for such a notion!

    Mental illness IS the individuals experiencing repeated INNER CONFLICTS reacting to the outer conflicts of collective others egos on a permanent relentless basis!

    So YES = mental illness is quite often likely a purely artificial condition of permanent inner conflict, predisposed by a person feeling inedequate ( due insufficient self assertive thought networks) that they are so different from the group around them who perpetuate negative interactions with them in judging them for their differences.

    God is in each life form though the collective whole is god and so god cannot be comprehended at any moment.


    Life is in each of us and the whole cannot be comprehended at any moment.

    Respecting the life in EVERY form is mentally healthy!

    Rejecting the life in any life form is mental illness!

    Maybe more of us re than we realise = because we are considered by others egos (collective or whateve) to be so and/or we think we are?

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