RE: Debunk All Religiosity Equally (D.A.R.E.)

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Jul 08 2001 - 21:11:30 MDT

In reply to M. E. Smith, someone claiming to be J. R. Malloy writes

> Religious fanatics are dishonest if they are not mentally ill, because only
> psychologically disturbed people could believe the childish mythology of
> miracles and fantasy that makes up religionism.

I think that your definition of "psychologically disturbed" is too broad.
Sad to say, lack of critical thinking ability (or desire) isn't that
uncommon, even among good citizens that would make very good neighbors.

> In the context of a world mad with religious wars [only slightly over-
> stated], where religionists are willing to die for the memes that have
> infected their brains, where the security of the entire planet is threatened
> by zealouts who deliberately attempt to fulfill the apocalyptic prophecies of
> their sacred scriptures (at the expense of anyone who gets in their way),
> where Inquisitions and witchhunts seek to silence every voice of reason, where
> infallible popery masquerades as compassion, where innocent children are
> taught to hate and kill anyone who does not embrace their parents pious
> fanaticism, where parochialism and provincialism spawn divisiveness in the
> name of diversity, where nearly the whole human race is cognitively crippled
> and lives in fear of tyrants who threaten damnation and eternal hell for
> disobeying asinine religious edicts, where ceremony and tradition stifle
> original ideas and new solutions, it becomes clear why the phrase "to make a
> religion out of it" means to alienate from freedom something that was once
> beautiful and to deform it into an ugly form of psychological death.

Strong words, but alas, true.

> Sexual liberation threatens religionists because their particular
> type of bigotry denies sex and sexuality, and this denial is yet
> another indication of their dishonesty and irresponsibility.

Sexual liberation threatens all conservatives (not just the religious)
because it dangerously counters hard-won traditions established over
hundreds of years that perhaps enabled the society to become stable
and prosperous. To what degree societal traditions (e.g. belief in
God) can be discarded requires careful thought and good judgment,
and should be addressed one at a time (see the works of Hayek for
a thorough discussion).

> > Thus, "unusual" brain states in which the boundaries
> > of our "self" are radically altered are not neccessarily
> > "less accurate representations" of reality. Perhaps they
> > are like different but equally valid reference frames
> > involved when doing simple analyses of the kinematics
> > of playing tennis on a moving train, etc.
> Perhaps you need to have a good orgasm to dispel these delusions...
> ... If you ever come to your senses, you'll find that it radically
> alters your analyses, etc.

Delusions? "Come to your senses"? You and I may disagree with
the statements, but that hardly makes them delusional.

> but "the Self" doesn't qualify for this [my] select
> list, because no one really hypothesizes "the Self."
> Instead, almost everyone grows up inloading this
> delusion by cultural osmosis. IOW, it's a product of
> evolutionary psychology and emotional conditioning
> rather than deliberate hypothesis.

I don't think that it's a delusion. The extent of the
integrity of behavioral responses and information
processing make "selves" as real (in many people, at
least) as many other higher level patterns.
> So, my point is that if we can locate the area of the brain responsible
> for religious ecstasy, perhaps we can also locate the area of the brain
> responsible for violent religious zealotry... and remove it like a wart
> or a tumor.

You have to expect that anyone who disagrees with you will
interpret this in the worst possible way. Were we all on
the same wavelength, then perhaps disclaimers like "of course
individuals (or their parents) would be the ones authorizing
such removal" wouldn't be necessary. But they are here.

> > This tends to "debunk" the premise of "Debunk All
> > Religiosity Equally", but that should be obvious.
> > (Would you propose to attack all philosophies
> > equally? How about economic systems; are they all
> > equally bad?)
> It may be "obvious" or seem that way to you, but I doubt it. I rather
> think you know better, and that you're just trolling for a flame war.

How can you be so sure? I'll be really impressed if you turn out
to be right, but in the mean time, what are the signs that M. E.
Smith doesn't just have an honest difference of opinion?

> You are probably not stupid enough to believe that I'd propose
> anything of the sort you mention. Your implication that I would
> do so belies your dishonesty and attempted deception.

Probably the writer was merely over-reacting to some of your
strongly worded statements (some of which really ought to have
been qualified, like I said). Still, the writer is entirely
unjustified to state that you (or anyone else here) favors
violent suppression of religion. At most he could have been
uncertain, and so should have inquired as to what you meant.

> Thank you for conceding... (the first part of your rant),
> but this does not logically lead to the conclusion of the
> last part of your rant.

What do you mean by rant? I thought that a rant was a lengthy,
highly charged emotional attack on someone or something. Quite
frankly, what you've written is closer to a rant (well, what
I think that "rant" means) than what Smith wrote.

> That fact that religious experience
> resides in a part of the human brain in no way excuses the mass murders and
> mayhem inflicted upon the human population by religious fanatics and zealots
> (the Crusades and the Inquistion to mention just two). One might as well try
> to excuse the actions of rapists on the grounds that sexual gratification
> operates in a particular area of the brain.

If that's what people are doing, then I couldn't agree with you more.
We have too much of a tendency in this society to excuse behavior
once we understand it.

> To conflate meditative experience with religious fanaticism
> is a cheap trick of the lowest kind. Shame on you.

Again, how the devil do you know that it was deliberate? Or
rather, was a deliberate trick? Couldn't it have been just
erroneous views coupled with misunderstanding? Or am I being

> > You're argument has generally been that all religions
> > are bad and should be wiped out (through force?), and
> > then you turn around and recommend a book which presents
> > "mystical experiences" in a positive light, revealing
> > how they have their basis in actual occurrences
> > in the brain.

> Please re-read the subject line. It reads "Debunk All
> Religiosity..." Your over-reaction and defensiveness
> shows how weak you must feel.

Many things besides weakness cause over-reaction and
defensiveness, e.g., (1) fear of ridicule (2) fear of
being shouted down [yes, ridiculous on an email list,
but nonetheless a real feeling] (3) anger at having
been insulted or made light of (4) impatience or
frustration at unexpected opposition or argument (5)

> Since you are a troll, go back to lurking. Welcome
> to my "Blocked Senders" list.

Talk about over-reaction! Or do you have a lot of
previous experience with Mr. (or Ms.) Smith?

Lee Corbin

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