Religion is loony

The Elizabeth Smart kidnapping trial is finally over, and because Brian David Mitchel (or Immanuel as he liked to call himself) was found guilty, the question of his mental state, and the mental state of religious people, is being brought to light.

It seems, however, rather than an honest look at the delusion of belief, we’re treated to a rigmarole of “experts” who seem to be too busy defending religious belief to acknowledge just how insane it all really is.

“There is ample research to suggest that, for the most part, religious people are no more inclined to mental illness than nonreligious people,” says Wendy Ulrich, a Mormon and founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth, a small group of mental-health professionals, in Alpine, Utah.

The pathology arises, Ulrich says, when a person’s search for meaning “goes into extreme overdrive” and people “lose touch with vital aspects of reality.”

Extreme overdrive you say? That just sounds like people who take their religion seriously to me. Sure, the average religious person is no more insane than his non-religious counterpart, but this is usually due to the fact most religionists don’t actually follow the tenets of their own faith. Who bothers to follow all 613 laws of the Pentateuch? Doing so is the first step towards the nuthouse.

So how can you make the distinction between genuine and false prophet? Through tradition, of course!

“If the pope says he’s the Vicar of Christ, that’s OK because it fits with a centuries-old tradition,” Hood says. “If I think I am, I’m in trouble.”

So tradition is an adequate judge of what’s normal or abnormal? That sounds like another dangerous antiquated belief to me. It used to be a tradition to sacrifice human beings to make the Sun reappear; so is tradition ever really a valid reason to do anything?

If you ask a religious person how God communicates, she might say through impressions or a kind of whispering. But if you ask a mentally ill person that question, he might say, “I shook hands with him yesterday.”

So the difference between a sane person and an insane loon is the sane person doesn’t literally believe God is taking an active role in their lives? I would certainly agree the sanest person is the one who utterly rejects all the nonsense, but I find the functional difference of the two categories of sane and insane religious folks pretty blurry. So far it boils down mainly to the way divine inspiration is delivered.

As a pastor, Johnson says, he would worry about actions that are “destructive to other people or to themselves.”

Mormons are urged to seek and receive God’s guidance for themselves and their families. But only the church’s “prophet, seer and revelator” can receive messages for the whole faith and the world. Such institutional controls may inhibit individual experiences, but they do prevent mentally ill members from distracting or confusing the faithful.

So the only way for individuals not to freak out and listen to everything the voices in their heads tell them to do is to rely on one guy who is actually paid to do it professionally? In other words, if you want to talk to God, you have to pay someone to do it for you. Sounds like a pretty brilliant scam to me.

The real problem here is it’s impossible to get religious folks to admit just how insane the idea of God really is, since they’ve bought it hook, line, and sinker. Even when confronted by the fact believers often act out their violent fantasies through the same faith mechanism they possess, somehow they manage to ignore it completely (presumably because it gives them meaning in their lives). The truth is that we incarcerate self-professed messiahs when we can, and those we can’t often start deadly cults that brainwash and control individuals. After a few hundred years, these cults gain enough respectability to be called religions. That’s generally how things work out.

Even as a young Mormon teen, Elizabeth Smart says she knew the difference between a genuine religious leader and Mitchell.
“God would never tell someone to kidnap a young girl from her family’s home in the middle of the night from her bed that she shared with her sister … and sexually abuse her and give her no free agency to choose what she did,” Smart testified. “I know (Mitchell) was not called of God because God would never do something like that.”

Yeah, God would never command his prophets to kidnap, murder, or rape anyone, would he?

And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

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Comments (19)

  • avatar

    Riz S.

    I’m pretty sure the Elizabeth Smart trial is over and the insaneo was convicted already. I could have sworn I saw it a bit ago on CNN.com

  • avatar

    Men's Battle Plan

    “Sure, the average religious person is no more insane than his non-religious counterpart, but this is usually due to the fact that most religionists don’t actually follow the tenants of their own faith. Who bothers to follow all 613 laws of the Pentateuch? Doing so is the first step towards the nuthouse.” -Jacob

    I think your ideas are correct but I don’t think you fully understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament and how they affect a Christian’s daily life. Also, as a non-hebrew we were never under the law to begin with. The law was for Hebrews only. But for a Messianic Jew, Jesus fulfills the old law:

    One example: So the old law said you have to sacrifice animals to atone for sin. The new law says that Jesus’ sacrifice covers your sins and therefore a Jew don’t have to sacrifice anymore.

    Another example: many laws are for the priests. Since Jesus came to be our eternal heavenly “priest” we don’t need priests anymore. So Jews don’t need those laws anymore for atonement of there sins.

    “So the difference between a sane person and an insane loon is that the sane person doesn’t literally believe that God is taking an active role in their lives?”-Jacob
    What New Testament command do you feel, if a person obeyed, would lead you to believe they are insane? I’m not saying there aren’t any, I’m just curious what your opinion is.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    ^ How about when Jesus starts telling his followers to leave their families and wait for his imminent return? What about the fucking acid trip that is Revelation?

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    Also, why the fuck is any blood sacrifice necessary? It’s barbaric. As for Jesus being a swell guy, at least before he came along no one would burn for an eternity simply for refusing to believe that a 2000 year old Jew is the Lord of Mankind. Only the sick and twisted mind of a human can come up with the disgusting concept of eternal torment. This is a loving God? Regardless of how cruel nature can be, the worse suffering eventually comes to an end. Not so in Christianity!

  • avatar

    Thiga

    A book says the earth is 6000 years old……why would anyone bother reading any further? Let alone believe any of the obvious bullshit within it.

    Fuckin people baffle me, man…….

  • avatar

    Men's Battle Plan

    “How about when Jesus starts telling his followers to leave their families and wait for his imminent return? What about the fucking acid trip that is Revelation?”-Jacob

    Jesus doesn’t tell all people to leave their families and follow him. We can all carry on with our lives and wait for Him to return together. Why would someone need to leave their family?

    He did ask a few guys to do that 2000 years ago but not now.

    Revelation is a dream that John had. It didn’t actually happen. Can you point out a specific command in revelation that if a Christian obeyed you would consider them insane.

    “Also, why the fuck is any blood sacrifice necessary? It’s barbaric.”-Jacob

    I agree.

    “This is a loving God? Regardless of how cruel nature can be, the worse suffering eventually comes to an end. Not so in Christianity!” -Jacob

    It is hard to understand. But I wouldn’t stop believing just because this is true. I want to be on His side.

    He is a loving God if you try obey Him. If not, He’s very hard to deal with.

    But I’m not sure what any of this has to do with the point you were trying to make in your original post about Christians being insane.

    Are you saying that just because I believe that John had a dream 2000 years ago that I am insane?

    Are you saying that because a solider leaves his family to fight a war that he is insane?

  • avatar

    Men's Battle Plan

    “A book says the earth is 6000 years old……why would anyone bother reading any further? Let alone believe any of the obvious bullshit within it.”-thiga

    I think the earth is more like at least 2.5 billion years old.

  • avatar

    BumbleBee

    Don’t even start with the old/new testament bullshit. It’s not like Jesus never said anything batshit insane… we’re talking about the same Jesus right? Who came”not to change the law but to complete it?” Who invented hell and declared “broad is the way that leadeth to destruction?”
    Jews have their own way of getting out of some of the weirder parts of the old testament. They say that the laws don’t apply because of the destruction of the temple. Everyone want’s to find an excuse to distance themselves from the verses which are inconvenient.
    Basically, what this testimony says is that it’s okay if god “whispers” to you, but if you speaks loudly, that’s a problem? Please, explain to me why the voice in your head is different than all the other voices. I really wanna know.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    ^ No, MBP, it doesn’t mean you are insane to believe what you believe in; it’s perfectly possible for a sane man to believe in insane things, however. This is the danger of religion and explains why it’s so poisonous. You said it yourself: you want to be on his side, and considering the insanity of your beliefs, who can blame you. Once you realize, however, that all of this is utter nonsense that was thought up by men who had no concept of objective reality, and no real way to understand it at the time, you stop losing this “fear of God” that you have and recognize the cruelty of the whole idea and enterprise.

  • avatar

    Men's Battle Plan

    “Yeah, God would never command his prophets to kidnap, murder, or rape anyone, would he?

    And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”-Jacob

    This is had to understand. There are parts of the Bible that I don’t want to accept. I know that in the culture back then (and even 500 years ago) it was common in war to do this. The justification in God’s eyes is that the people were incredibly sinful and needed to be purged from the planet.

    Sort of like natural selection. Evolution is just as nasty, painful and “unloving”.

    I want you to know that I’m not arguing or condoning for this type of behavior in God but it does not make me stop believing. If I know that God is real then I would want to follow this God and be on His good side.

    There are many of you that even if God showed Himself to you, you would still reject Him because you hate Him so much.

  • avatar

    Jacob Rawling

    “There are many of you that even if God showed Himself to you, you would still reject Him because you hate Him so much.” – dude thats the point, its always “god showing himself to you”, not a definitive proof that your specific god, or any for that matter, exists. God showing himself to you could just well be some skunk which you sure as hell shouldn’t have taken.

    Also if I did believe in a god I still wouldn’t worship one that thought genocide was okay! That shit is wrong whether it was 500 years okay or 5 minutes, surely reading that in the bible at least makes you go “is this the sort of god worthy of praise?”. Surely not?

  • avatar

    Men's Battle Plan

    ““There are many of you that even if God showed Himself to you, you would still reject Him because you hate Him so much.” – dude thats the point, its always “god showing himself to you”, not a definitive proof that your specific god, or any for that matter, exists. God showing himself to you could just well be some skunk which you sure as hell shouldn’t have taken.”-Jacob Rawling

    What I mean is that if there was definite proof that God existed (I’m not sure what that would be) then I still feel like you guys would reject Him.

    What would it take for you guys to believe in a God? What sort of proof would you need? Just curious.

  • avatar

    Grammar Pedant

    Grammar pedant says: one follows “tenets,” not “tenants.” If you follow a tenant, you might be arrested for stalking.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    We’re a pretty serious when it comes to following the evidence, MBP. The difference between us and you is that you’ve already chosen to believe without proper evidence, hoping that you are right, and motivated by some pretty spurious reasons to believe (fear of death, personal experience, etc). If proof existed, we’d be all over that shit.

    Stuff written by a desert tribe thousands of years ago and that people follow uncritically is only proof of the over active imagination of naked apes.

  • avatar

    Men's Battle Plan

    ^Jacob, but what would it take? I’m not trying to trap anyone into an argument. I just want to know.

    Would you need to see a huge person in the sky? A booming voice? What proof do you want?

  • avatar

    Thiga

    evidence that can be peer reviewed and withstand double blind experiments.
    A claim that can be falsified.
    Just the exact same requirements it takes for a scientific idea to become mainstream.

  • avatar

    Men's Battle Plan

    “evidence that can be peer reviewed and withstand double blind experiments.”-Thiga
    But what? What evidence is needed? What is a specific example?

  • avatar

    Thiga

    Well lets take a look a your good book of bad ideas…

    World Wide Flood Destroys everything:

    Purely scientific standpoint we can assume if such an event happened it would leave evidence in the fossil records. There would be a layer of fossils both plant and animal, that would contain every species on earth. Layers of the earth after the event would show a slow but steady increase in species as repopulation occurs.
    This does not happen. There is no evidence of any kind that this event took place.

    Any miracle from the bible all the way through to today can be tested and shown to be false. Therefore the whole idea of god falls apart. Its safe to say god is false.

    I cant think of one specific example, nor do I feel compelled to. Anything you say is proof, should be able to stand up to this kind of testing by people much smarter than me. If there is ever evidence that does pass testing there wont be anymore athiests. We all pretty much just follow the evidence, wherever it takes us. Ill be the first one dangling from gods nutsack when a peer reviewed scientific journal publishes definitive proof of god. any god.

  • avatar

    Brandon

    Actually there is evidence of a major flood in the area that everyone (atheists too) believes that humans came from, east Africa. More intelligent Christians believe that since people only lived in one particular area a local flood actually could have killed all humans on the earth.

    I’m just wondering if you would believe if there was a huge booming voice and the face of God as big as the earth saying “Thiga, believe in me!”. Would you believe then?

    What would it take? If you saw a guy with a missing hand get touched by a guy and it grew back. Would that do it?

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