23rd September 2008

“Religion is capable of driving people to such dangerous folly that faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness.”

Richard Dawkins

4 Responses to “23rd September 2008”

  1. Cliff Says:

    Dawkins observation is spot on. The anti-vaccine crowd on today’s post is an example, though I’m not sure this is the unique domain of religious fundamentalists. Likewise, I’m not sure that “dangerous follies” are not unique to people of faith. Surely Dawkins could drum up a few mentally ill atheists if he thought about it long enough. Were they driven to their mental illnesses by skepticism? For many, such a case could be made, I’m sure.

  2. Cliff Says:

    Sorry, the anti-vaccine post referred to in the above comment was over at Cogita Tute; I did not realize I had migrated away from that site.

  3. Rhos Says:

    I’m a big fan of Prof Dawkins but quotes like this do not help. How can we engage with people of faith when they are compared to the mentally ill.

  4. Chris Says:

    I agree with Rhos and Dawkins. The easiest example of religion as mental illness is fundamentalist Islam: A totally irrational and unsupportable belief that if you board a bus and kill yourself and everyone on it then there will be 72 virgins waiting for you in paradise. Christians shake their heads at this and probably agree “those people are crazy” while failing to see the echo of this in Sara Palin’s pastor who kick started his career in Africa by conducting an actual witch hunt. What are we to make of people that speak in tongues or think that a man in a dress can turn tasteless little wafers and cheap wine into the body and blood of a man that very likely didn’t exist 2000 years ago. There’re names for it: Mass sociogenic illness or mass hysteria.

    And yes – pointing this out is unhelpful name calling. Better perhaps to find opportunities to make them justify their weird practices and illogical beliefs.