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.