I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it lately, and I really think that religion should be classified as a mental disorder and I’ll as briefly as possible try and explain why.
If a person had never been taught or exposed to religion, would they even consider for a second that it is sane? You hear a story about a guy who comes down a mountain and proclaims that a burning bush gave him a set of laws that everyone should live by or else, that doesn’t sound a bit crazy to you?
Voltaire pointed out long ago, it is pointless to argue with an enthusiast. Religion is insanity not just because the content they believe is absurd, but because their mind does convoluted backflips in order to justify and hold on to those beliefs. Someone’s belief and faith in religion often goes to extremes that are pretty hard to comprehend. Here’s an example.
Person A’s car overheats and they discover it’s out of water/coolant so they get a jug and go to refill it. Person B is a neighbor that comes out to chat, and notices something they point out to person A. “You need a new radiator, there’s steam shooting out the side right here”. Now, if this was a religious debate person A would immediately get defensive, proclaim they don’t need a new radiator, the steam is supposed to be there, and only the manufacturer of the car can tell them whether it needs to be replaced or not. However since it isn’t religion, that person doesn’t lose their grip on reality and simply replies “Oh shit, I’ll have to get it checked out”.
This is the problem of religion, and I think it’s a simple as the brain’s way of learning right and wrong. A child learns right and wrong from their parents, and without religion those values of right and wrong are stuck in there pretty solidly. If that child is taught right and wrong with a religious bent, those values are stuck and carry with them a blindly held belief in absurdity. It is then very rare for a person who has had that religious belief ingrained in their right and wrong values to change those beliefs, simply because people equate having a wrong belief with them themselves being somehow “wrong” or invalidated. Essentially, if what they believe is wrong they must be a bad person but they were taught they were a good person so therefor in their mind cannot be wrong. This brings me to the conclusion that in order to instill a belief you simply have to be the first one to offer that belief, but to break a belief would take nothing less than absolute undeniable proof that it is wrong and they will still attempt to justify it mentally. Unfortunately, having the religion blended in their right/wrong values opens them up to manipulation. By manipulating those beliefs, you can cause a person to mentally justify just about anything as being right or good. When this gets blended with politics, a politician claiming to represent those beliefs and the enemy politician is evil it causes an odd alignment. If that person shuns that politician, they feel like they’d be shunning the belief which they feel is right. Since the other politician doesn’t share that belief or claim to be the one representing that belief, they must be wrong. Then that politician becomes a part of that belief system, and you get people who are zealots not only for their religion but also for the politician. Then that politician becomes on even level with religion, that politician being wrong makes the believer feel invalid so that politician must be right nomatter what mental leaps have to be made and what evidence has to be ignored. Case and point, Trump supporters push for Trump in the face of all of the obvious reasons not to. You can take a Trump supporter and show them one thing after another showing just how terrifying a candidate Trump is and they’ll figure out a way to justify it or just get hostile, defensive and possibly violent.
Religion destroys a person’s ability to look at things objectively, ability to make rational decisions, and develop as an individual. If that doesn’t qualify as a mental disorder, then you may as well say schizophrenics who hear voices telling them to kill people for being evil that they’re perfectly sane for those beliefs. If I were to say I hear voices, that magical all powerful forces spoke through me and gave me special powers to destroy evil, I’d be put in an extra long sleeve jacket and put in a nice padded room. If I were to say it while on stage in a church clutching a bible, I’d get a following and be considered sane.