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June 03, 2014


On the Unbelievable? radio show, when presented with this quote as being some sort of description of faith as a mental disorder, Boghosian seemed to respond that people are focusing too much on this,and it was relatively unimportant. He affirmed that he meant it, but that people really should not focus on it.

Sounds like a really bad magician, who tries to make his move, and than successfully redirecting you, simply tells you to ignore what he is doing with his left hand.

Well said, Amy.

Boghossian makes a great point: Why is there a specific RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION for "delusions?" Why not just leave religion out of it and say a delusion is simply thinking something exists when it doesn't? Do we also need political and business exemptions? Why does only "religion" get an exemption?

Equally delusional is the notion that science has the apparatus that can convincingly assert the disproof for God. It is phenomenal in understanding natural causations, but is not comprehensive in its understanding of totality (there's a universe out there). To trust science in areas not within its perameters is a novel faith, and to some, faith breeds delusions.

Amy, in your paragraph ...

>> What is needed is love in three interconnected areas: Love among your fellow Christians, which encourages and builds up your love for God, who provides you with His supernatural love for others.

... did you list these three loves in any order (logical, order of significance, random)?

Based on what I could access online, it looks like the DSM has already made such an update - probably since Boghossian wrote the quoted passage.

Compare DSM V to DSM-IV-TR.

DSM-IV-TR said

the belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture (e.g., it is not an article of religious faith).

DSM-V removed that and now says the content of a delusion may include

a variety of themes (e.g. persecutory, referential, somatic, religious, grandiose).

I don't think there's a 'dangerous call to action' here.

And the edit was a good one because, clearly, there is nothing stopping a subculture (or a whole culture) from sharing a delusion. Also, it seems there is such a thing as a religious delusion. At the very least, the existance of religious delusions can't be ruled out a priori.

So, under DSM-V, what prevents every religious belief from being automatically classed as a delusion?

Easy: A delusion is a kind of disorder. And, according to DSM-V:

A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress or disability in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.

If a person behaves like other people and there's no distress or disablity...etc., then there's no disorder and, therefore, no delusion. (Again: a delusion is a kind of disorder.)

DGFisher, it was really just the order that worked best in the sentence. God's empowerment enables all else, so that's where the circle starts and is sustained.

I would like to point out that Dr. Boghossian is NOT advocating the eradication of religion but the end of Faith-Based beliefs.

IE: *Believing in things that you have no evidence for.
*Believing in something regardless of evidence against it.
*Formulating your biased beliefs founded on an hopeful idea, and, then moving back to find corroborating "evidence" for it.

This has nothing to do with Religion. It has to do with Faith.
HOWEVER: The eradication of Faith-Based thinking is the eradication of all religions, ghosts, UFO's, Bigfoot, crystal healers, Scientology, and so forth.
It is the end of beliefs systems constructed without proper evidence.

I would like to point out that Dr. Boghossian also (currently) teaches Science & Pseudoscience and Critical Thinking. His intention is to eradicate poor ways of learning and coming to unfounded conclusions that negatively effect the world.

In regards to the radio show where Boghosian explained his view, my take show was that one side tried to make arguments of why the definition of faith being proposed was not an accurate description of how it is actually being used by Christians, rebutted with charges of elitism ( maybe your couple of friends might think that, but normal people don't) and reasserting that there is an agreement that faith is belief without any basis and therefore no discussion was needed.

He did not show much critical thinking, as his main argument seemed to be that everyone, except for his few friended opponent, knew that he was right. A wonderful exercise in dismissal and handwaving.

Reiterating his job title sounds like an appeal to authority. It is true because he says so?

"Boghossian makes a great point: Why is there a specific RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION for "delusions?" Why not just leave religion out of it and say a delusion is simply thinking something exists when it doesn't? Do we also need political and business exemptions? Why does only "religion" get an exemption?

Posted by: Bernie Dehler"

Like the delusion that we live in a society where people have a say in how they are governed? Or that lowering corporate taxes creates jobs? Or that restarting drug production in Afghanistan is a good thing? or that almost every war is religious?

It is not the first time an Atheist has advocated this for entire classes of human beings. He makes no comment or tie-in to ability to function. It is a simple belief alone which he speaks towards. Again, this isn't the first time an Atheist has advocated this for entire classes of human beings. We've seen this with the Jews in other nations, in other times, but I guess "ethnic beliefs" are "different" than "beliefs" somehow.


God - Immutable Love - being the [A - Z] of the Christian Metanarrative, we find that such moves against other human beings as we find advocated by the Atheist in the OP would be quite un-Christian moves to make. Such moves would be an actual affront against the actual grain of Actuality Himself, Who is Love.

On the [A - Z] of Atheism, at the end of all regressions we find that Atheism's Metanarrative has an A of indifference, a Z of indifference, and in between we find the reverberating fragments of irrationally produced psychic phosphorescence, themselves driven by the motor of indifference. Perhaps then there is no actual, real contradiction here on the Atheist's end in calling for a kind of institutionalized disenfranchisement of fellow human beings, and calling on the inappropriate and unethical employment of medical practices on fellow human beings. None that I can see anyway. No inherent ontological contradiction. Not a "contradiction" that isn't simply an illusion created by irrationally cascading fragments of psychic phosphorescence given the necessary ontological ends of Atheism's Metanarrative as it applies to Moral Ought, Ultimate Meaning, and Perception.

But Immutable Love - God - being Actual, and not illusion, leads this Self that is "me" in a very different direction as I ponder the treatment of all who are Other.

If we wonder what God's direction is, we need only look upon Christ, Immutable Love's Eternally Sacrificed Self, as He spreads His arms wide, and pours Himself out for – and into – His beloved Other, whom He claims is every last on of us, atheists and theists and pantheists and - all of us.

It takes the Love of God to love the angry atheist, and, it takes the Love of God to love me - and that is because it takes the Love of God to love the World.

To love someone who employs unloving actions, who speaks unloving words, to love them even as they Crucify You. That is God.

God loves the World.

That is why He pours Himself out for - and into - we His beloved - the World - and thereby makes of Himself both our means and our ends.

I like to show my students the following clip and ask them the following:

Do you honestly think this process came about without a designer?

Which requires more faith to believe?

Boghossian is seeking the power both to define faith (in a way that exempts his own) and to stamp it out. Very dangerous indeed.

I think Amy's point is that we're called to love even a dangerous totalitarian hack like Boghossian.

She's right and God had better help me, because the love sure isn't going to come from me.

One thing Boghossian does prove is that, if anyone thought that Professor Radisson from God's Not Dead (the character played by Kevin Sorbo) is a caricature, they are sadly mistaken.

The call to employ unethical medical practices on human beings - belief alone is his criteria - reminds me of such "acts of mercy" that were done to African Americans not long ago.

He doesn't teach critical thinking. He teaches hate.

His academic affiliation to a university and its dept. of medicine gives him zero clout - He knows nothing of medicine and isn't teaching Ethics, Medicine, or "Thinking".

He is teaching hate, and even unjustified risk of harm as the is no such entity as medical treatment free of all risk. In his "academic teaching" it seems yesterday's Negro is today's Jew and Muslim.

That some rush to defend this is very disappointing.

Perhaps this person has since published a statement clarifying things out of the obscene. I would be relieved to know I am wrong about his declaration and would happily withdraw this opinion.


"the is no" was meant to be "there is no" as in:

He is teaching hate, and even unjustified risk of harm as there is no such entity as medical treatment free of risk. In his "academic teaching" it seems yesterday's Negro is today's Jew and Muslim.

RE: "One thing Boghossian does prove is that, if anyone thought that Professor Radisson from God's Not Dead (the character played by Kevin Sorbo) is a caricature, they are sadly mistaken."

That movie was a joke. There's no professor like Radisson in any State university, esp. a philosophy teacher. It is a Christian myth. Take a few philosophy courses and you'll see really fast there are all sorts of goofy ideas that are debated in philosophy classes, among the students. No ideas are simply categorically dismissed, as in that goofy god movie. (One exemption might be high intolerance for things like racism and anti-homosexual beliefs.)

FYI- you can see some of Boghossian's class behavior in some youtube videos of his classes, like this:
"Christian Apologist Bravely Confronts Peter Boghossian's Students, Pt. 1 of 2"


Publishing a book calling for such unethical treatment of human beings based on being Jewish or Muslim or Etc. is not in the classroom.

It's putting it out there in the real world.

This professor believes such "mercy treatment" of some classes of human beings will bring us a better world.


Did you the death rate for BST (brain stimulation therapy) - previously called ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) - approaches 1:4000?

Do you know the incidence of fatal anaphylaxis from prescription medication?

Do you know the incidence of non-fatal but debilitating side effects from prescription medications?

Do you know the infection rate from craniotomies?

Do you know the potential disruption in one's career if a diagnosis of a mental illness prohibits one from this or that particular kind of employment?

On the grounds of color, we used all sorts of unethical "mercy treatments" in this country not that long ago.

Publishing a book calling that we repeat the same crimes against humanity - only change the word color to non-atheist - is paramount to culpability should some inane anti-religious person or group think it a good idea to "go ahead and try it". A few countries come to mind as good places for him to make a profit. Good thing for the internet. I hope he gives some of the money to charity.

It would be better for him to publish legal, and sane, medical recommendations. I would employ the words ethical/humane recommendations.

Although, he seems to see such lines as ethical.

That's what they, we, told the Negros too.

I think Amy's point is that we're called to love even a dangerous totalitarian hack like Boghossian.

...and even more importantly, that we can't do that on our own. We're in desperate need of God's empowerment on this one (as you also said). The key point is this:

We all need to take seriously our need for God’s supernatural work in and through us, if we’re going to persevere in apologetics. Are you diligently pleading with Him for this?

This post isn't about Boghossian. It's about us, our limitations, and our need for God.

Thanks, WL.

"that movie was a joke. There's no professor like Radisson in any State university, esp. a philosophy teacher. It is a Christian myth."

Took science courses, so I don't know about philosophy classes, but........

I took Raddison to be more of a representation of a typical "Internet Atheist", but a movie about people arguing on a Facebook page or a blog would not likely be entertaining AT ALL, and there is no risk in blog arguing so there would be no real obstacle to drive the plot. Artistic license, like setting a classic novel/play in a modern setting. I suppose they could have made the movie about an atheist suing over a religious symbol.

The objection reminds me of being asked in class, What did Hamlet mean by XXXXXXX in Act IV, and responding that there was no Hamlet so he didn't mean anything.

You are called to love unbelievers.

You don't have to like them.

Just like family.


For roughly the same reason you posit, I also thought, at first, that the God's Not Dead movie was a joke (though no more so than most 'mainstream' movies with 'Christian' characters). See, I used to be one of those Philosophy professors, and I got my degree from a state school. I wouldn't have thought a caricature like Radisson to be possible in real life.

Then I started reading Boghossian's book.

With that said, remember that this post is about seeking God to still love someone like Boghossian (or Radisson).

It bears remembering that, in the movie, Radisson had a story that actually made him more sympathetic than he seemed at first. His anger toward God was irrational and no excuse for his sinful hostility toward Christians. But as a broken old sinner myself, I understand it.

It is likely true that Boghossian also has a story that makes him more sympathetic than he seems when he's saying that we need psychological treatment because we're delusional. His story also won't excuse him for his sinful hostility toward Christians. But as beggars all before God, we might just get it.

Note: In appealing to Radisson's story, I'm not saying that all atheists are atheists because of anger toward God. As Hollywood creators like to say whenever they make a movie containing a negative depiction of a Christian, the movie was the story of that one person, it was not meant to be a commentary on all of his fellow-travelers.

Oh, wow!

I was recently listening to an interview with him. (Though I didn't get very far in it yet.) I was thinking to myself, wow, finally an atheist that is reasonable, gracious, who listens, who genuinely wants to have discussion, etc.

How misleading! I'd rather have the open contempt of people like Richard Dawkins! At least with him, we have no question as to where he stands and how much he loathes us and all we stand for!

I had the same impression in the beginning of that interview, Mo. But as the conversation went on, I was disillusioned.

I had two professors in college who were pretty hostile toward Christianity, and they let it be known, but neither one of them was as over the top as Kevin Sorbo in that movie.


I never had an experience even close to the one in the movie. That's why I found it hard to suspend disbelief at first. My apologetic for the movie had been, basically, sauce for the gander: yes, Radisson is a cutout, but so are just about all the Christians in all the Hollywood movies.

Boghossian's manual changed that for me. It's not just the outrageous proposal shown above. It's the abysmal quality of the reasoning. Radisson's reasoning in the movie, such as it is, is no worse. And it's precisely because the reasoning is so bad that you're inclined to think that something else is going on between those ears...just as it was for Radisson.

“I live with one deep concern: Am I making the right decisions? …… I subject myself to self-purification and endless self-analysis; I question and soul-search constantly into myself to be as certain as I can that I am fulfilling the true meaning of my work, that I am maintaining my sense of purpose, that I am holding fast to my ideals…..whatever my doubts, however heavy the burden, I feel I must accept the task……” (Pastor Martin Luther King Jr.)

From History News Network: “On September 28, 1962, as King spoke at a church in Birmingham, Ala., White Power advocate Roy James jumped onto the stage and smashed King in the face. King staggered as James then slugged him on the side of the head, following with two kidney punches. As James then hit King again, King dropped his hands and put up no resistance. As his aides led James away, King calmly returned to his talk. Four months later, James again slugged King while he was speaking in Chicago...."

"What is needed is love in three interconnected areas: Love among your fellow Christians, which encourages and builds up your love for God, who provides you with His supernatural love for others."

1000% agree; Jesus said that THE defining mark to the rest of the world on what a Christian is how Christians love each other. That includes more than just being kind and "gracious"; it also includes speaking the truth at ALL times as well (Eph. 2:15)...

This is a quote of Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. which may be helpful:

"Let us be practical and ask the question. How do we love our enemies? First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one's enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us. It is also necessary to realize that the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression. The wrongdoer may request forgiveness. He may come to himself, and, like the prodigal son, move up some dusty road, his heart palpitating with the desire for forgiveness. But only the injured neighbor, the loving father back home, can really pour out the warm waters of forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words "I will forgive you, but I'll never forget what you've done" never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, "I will forgive you, but I won't have anything further to do with you." Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again.

Without this, no man can love his enemies. The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies."


Pointing to your (one's) own sins was a helpful approach. Though Christians, we sin, and though our "enemy" may be quite harsh, his is yet but a marred image of the Good, perhaps, I would say, a deficiency of His Beauty.

Forgive the repetitive step here, but Pastor King had something similar:

".....we must recognize that the evil deed of the enemy-neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy. Each of us has something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves. A persistent civil war rages within all of our lives. Something within us causes us to lament with Ovid, the Latin poet, "I see and approve the better things, but follow worse," or to agree with Plato that human personality is like a charioteer having two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in a different direction, or to repeat with the Apostle Paul, "The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. This simply means that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. When we look beneath the surface, beneath the impulsive evil deed, we see within our enemy-neighbor a measure of goodness and know that the viciousness and evilness of his acts are not quite representative of all that he is. We see him in a new light. We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God's image is ineffably etched in being. Then we love our enemies by realizing that they are not totally bad and that they are not beyond the reach of God's redemptive love."

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that love is a warm, fuzzy feeling. It isn't. It's wanting God's best for everyone, no matter who they are, no matter how rude and obnoxious they are. That's what I try to focus on.

Of course religious faith isn't delusional. Just ask the Scientologists ! Or is what you really mean to assert is that only Christian faith cannot be delusional?

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