Faith - A Mental Disorder Or Misguided Thinking?
I consider innate gullibility as the precondition for believing. Faith is the result, when gullibility has found a content to believe in. Depending on the need, the content can be a deity of a religion or any esoteric woo-woo or quackery. The combination of high gullibility, a strong need for the faith and low rational capacities can create a delusion, the is out of the reach of any influences.
There are two varieties of how atheists and skeptics evaluate those afflicted with a faith. This is due to the difference between being void of gullibility or having strong rational control over weaker gullibility.
Those void of gullibility tend to consider faith as a delusional mental disorder.
The others tend more to see faith as a rational mistake of misguided thinking. Many of the latter feel a mission to convince and convert the faithful, because of the damage done by religions and quackeries.
I consider the innate predisposition for faith distributed along a scale distributed as a bell curve.
- At one end, there are those, who are completely delusional in their faith, because of strong gullibility and the need for their chosen faiths.
- At the other end are those lacking gullibility and the need for any faith. They live based upon rationality only.
- In the middle are people, whose need for faith and whose rational control are balanced.
- Below the middle are all those, whose delusion is stronger than a rational ability to overcome the delusion.
- Above the middle are those, who are able to be atheists and skeptics, but still aware of the attraction and temptation of faiths.
The distribution of people's actual faith differs, because many people are brainwashed and influenced by education and social norms to have a conscious attitude incongruent with their innate inclinations.
- Pseudo-religious people either get shocked out of their faith by some strong experience, or they slowly grow aware of their absence of a real belief. They are those, who are successful targets for the mission of atheistic rational arguments.
- Pseudo-atheists, who have grown up in the atheistic communist countries often succumb to the delusion of faith in a crisis, where the delusion serves a psychological need.
Only the absence or low attraction of any faith as a psychological solution to personal needs enables someone to have enough distance to consider faith as a mental disorder. Therefore this evaluation is only held by a minority of atheists.
It is important to note, that having a mental disorder does not automatically mean, that someone is disabled from living an independent live, or that someone is personally causing direct damage to others or to himself.
This text is a slightly modified copy from my ERCP blog: