Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content at the RNS Archives website.

(RNS) The atheist community has embraced the cause of an Indonesian man, Alexander Aan, who was beaten and jailed after denying God’s existence on Facebook and posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. By Kimberly Winston.

7 Comments

  1. If there is any god that wants to keep him from speaking, then let that god do it themselves.

    So far, I only see people doing it.

    The reality is that all religion is mental illness and should be treated as such.

  2. How about a discount for blacks only?

    Thought not- the best way to drum up business is to offer EVERYONE a discount; but that’s too advanced thinking for the religious.

    The comments support Angry Voter’s opinion, and mine- religion IS a mental illness, for most .

  3. It sure is a slap in the face to human rights.

    I think you have to be careful about making claims that religion is a mental illness, though. While ideas of a god might not be rational, they are consistent with the teachings and beliefs of that culture. By medical standards, that means religious people are NOT suffering from a delusional disorder. Calling it a mental illness out of anger ignores the persuasive power of religion on individuals and prevents us from making any real and positive changes towards a system run based on secular beliefs. It also sets up a standard where religious people could be persecuted for their beliefs by being classified as mentally ill.

    No compassionate and reasonable atheist I know would want that. We have to be better than reactionary anger, even if our religious counterparts are not.

  4. dick thixkett

    I agree that it is too simple to classify religious belief as a mental illness. On that logic many children, for as long as they believe in faries or Father Christmass could also be so classified, which would be gfrossly unfair.

    However, it is obvioud how near to insane delusion are religious beliefs if we substitute “NAPOLEON” for God in any staement they make!

  5. Free Aan.

    This kind of behaviour on the part of religionists is in fact indicative and classically symptomatic of an obsessive compulsive disorder driven by aversion to cognitive dissonance and with a strong element of sociopathy and the need to control others.

    If a disease state is exemplified by a negative impact on organisms and persons individually and collectively, then there is ample evidence of such negative impact here.

    The negative impact on the religious devotee can be expressed in terms of a deficiency in processing information from the environment and the social sphere in such a way as to properly preserve the survival and wellbeing of the individual and the group. It’s the same dynamic that has everyone eating so much sugar that it kills us, but still selling and buying sweets and pop to young children.

    Pragmatic utilisation of religious faith and devotion for social cohesion and temporary personal relief in the face of stress comes at a cost: the cost is the individual’s ability to process veridical information and to distinguish information types for the furnishing of reliable knowledge (variable between persons and depending on their degree of submissiveness).

    Organisms that are unable to process information about what is real will be vulnerable in their environments. This is how L Ron Hubbard and Joseph Smith were able to dupe so many even though they clearly indicated (in Hubbard’s case) that they were starting a religion to make money.

    Religious faith is readily classifiable as a disease state, with symptoms manifest in varying degrees. The social standards for judging a child’s belief in Santa Claus are different to those for judging an adult’s belief in fictions as denoting real entities: the former is not pathological – the latter clearly is (if an adult believed in Santa Claus, this would be objectively indicative of mental illness despite community standards: a community that approved such would also be ill).

    The disease symptoms are 1. Cognitive impairment resulting in the inability to process important information and inability to distinguish information source types (fictional versus concrete), 2. obsessive compulsive behaviour in connection with the narratives of the belief system resulting in 3. sociopathic behaviour in connection with 1. and 2. and often 4. psychopathic and extreme passive aggresive behaviour in connection with 1. 2., and 3.

    That such memes and narrative are sanctioned by authorities in society does not minimise the nature of religious faith as a delusive disease state any more than the social authoritative sanctioning of earth-centered cosmology makes it true that the sun and planets go around the earth.

    Religious faith is the reason Alexander is in prison. Mankind will be able to work towards being truly be free when free of the scourge of religious faith.

  6. “It never occurred to any writer of the OT [Hebrew Scriptures] to prove or argue the existence of God,” says Dr. James Hastings in A Dictionary of the Bible. “It is not according to the spirit of the ancient world in general to deny the existence of God, or to use arguments to prove it. The belief was one natural to the human mind and common to all men.” This does not mean, of course, that all men at that time were God-fearing. Far from it. Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 both mention “the senseless one,” or as the King James Version says, “the fool,” who has said in his heart, “There is no Jehovah.”
    What kind of person is this fool, the man who denies the existence of God? He is not intellectually ignorant. Rather, the Hebrew word na·val? points to a moral deficiency. Professor S. R. Driver, in his notes to The Parallel Psalter, says that the fault is “not weakness of reason, but moral and religious insensibility, an invincible lack of sense, or perception.”
    The psalmist goes on to describe the moral breakdown that is a result of such an attitude: “They have acted ruinously, they have acted detestably in their dealing. There is no one doing good.” (Psalm 14:1) Dr. Hastings sums up: “Counting on this absence of God from the world and on impunity, men become corrupt and do abominable deeds.” They openly embrace ungodly principles and discount a personal God to whom they have no wish to be accountable. But such thinking is as foolish and senseless today as it was when the psalmist wrote his words over 3,000 years ago.

  7. How did you get the intelligence to be able to argue about God’s existence if there is no God?
    What infinite coincidence could have happened to spark first life of any type? What magic combination of elements just so happened to make something with life and thought and existence?