Some experts see religion as a psychological problem or condition.  Others go further and see it as a mental disorder.


Psychologist Valerie Tarico says that if one can explain how Christian belief originates then the belief is false. According to her, the origin of the belief can be explained by neuroscience and neuropsychology. This however, Christians love to tell us, does not prove in itself that the belief is wrong. True. I could be programmed to believe in God. And there could be a God. But what I worship is not God. I can have a delusion about what is true! If the faculties that cause me to have a delusion cause me to accept something that is actually true then it is still a delusion in the psychological sense. If I have a fault on my cornea that makes me see a streetlight and there is a streetlight there, the fact remains is that I did not see the real streetlight. A delusion can be actually false and or psychologically false.
Christians surmise that Tarico commits the genetic fallacy. They accuse her of reasoning, "If one can explain the origin of a phenomenon (Christian religious belief), then the phenomenon is false." But given that if you have a delusion that your dead daughter is alive and it turns out you are right, the fact remains that it is still a delusion for your perception of reality is still psychotic. Christian faith is not real faith and brings people to what they want God to be not what he is. Tarico is right that the Christian faith is false subjectively.
Christians answer Tarico by saying if God exists and created humans, then it is possible that God made our cognitive faculties function as they do so to reveal himself and so that we might believe. Then even if we are programmed by our past to believe in God, we find God through this programming and the belief is still valid. This makes no sense. If I pretend to be a rich Mr Perfect and convince women I am for real then I do not lead them to me but to a mistaken perception of me. God cannot lead people to genuine faith if Tarico is right. And she is.


Ellis held that people must see themselves as just good only for no other reason than that they are alive and human. They must then consider and measure what they do and keep their essence, their self out of it. The idea is that you matter as much as a person whether you do terrible things or good things.

To develop that is what counts. Not that a God made you, that a religion says God made you, that a God celebrates you. You are what you are and you just count...

You must never need others or what they think or praise to have a sense of self. Your self-worth is worthwhile in itself and does not need their opinion. That can be a painful and difficult realisation. It is worse when you realise you are important and it does not matter if God exists or not - you are important anyway.  Failing to see that divine affirmation and that of others and of God does not matter at all never mind a bit can harm. What God thinks does not matter at all for he does not.  Telling you that God matters even a bit is odd for God by definition is the ultimate value and he alone matters.  If you need God to affirm you then you are clearly lacking a sense of self in the first place.  If you haven't got it and don't feel it then God's opinion of you cannot give it to you.

Religion says, "Nothing is to be loved or wanted as an end in itself but only because it is a gift from God and you want to honour him by taking it."  This is nothing more than a charter for conditional love which is not love at all.


Some try to make out that if religionists are disturbed in the mind then scientists are too. Such arguments are based on supposing that bias and a gripping need to believe can be psychological difficulties.

The anthropologist Jonathan Marks in Why I Am Not a Scientist: Anthropology and Modern Knowledge (University of California, 2009) tells us that that scientists often see what they want to see. Their methods and peer reviews are a lot less objective and fair than people think. Even the amount of the funding money available can affect what the scientist concludes from his experiments.
The proper view is that though science can be biased and unfair it is still the best method we have for getting at the truth. At least in principle, science extols being open-minded and looking at what is there. If science is faulty then religion is worse. Choose the lesser curse.
Christians use such statements to show that science does not give certainty. But they only weaken their own religion by doing so.
Atheists say that Christians are too sure of themselves when nobody should be that sure. Christians reply that this argument undermines atheists too when they are very sure of themselves. Suppose they are right. We can then say yes it does undermine such atheists. But it undermines Christians more. Choose the lesser evil! Atheists resist the temptation to believe in a God that adores them. Christians do not. So the Christians should not be so sure of their beliefs being true when they are that biased. Plus if atheists are right, then they may know it. In that case, they are not undermining themselves by saying Christians can't be that sure their faith is true!

Also, Christians assert that if an atheist says nobody can be sure how can the atheist know that nobody can be sure? Perhaps there are people out there who are sure that their beliefs are correct.

Christians say that there is evidence for the resurrection and that if we only believe things because we want to and not because of the evidence that does not mean there is no evidence for the resurrection (page 19, The Infidel Delusion). True. But it does mean we never believe because of the evidence even if we use it. Christians then would be lying bigots for saying they have an honest and justified belief in the resurrection. Even if there is evidence for the resurrection, there might as well be none for all the good it does Christians.
Scientists believe that we are hardwired to filter out counterevidence. Suppose all our beliefs are more biased than what we think. It follows then that we should only believe what we need to get by on in this world. Eg, that doctors may cure you, that food keeps you alive, what we are told about maths and geography is correct etc. To start getting religious is going too far. The further you go the more bigoted you are in danger of becoming.

Christians say that many scientists believe that people by nature only believe what they want to believe. Christians view themselves as an exception. They contradict their claim that human nature is biased and unfair with belief and then they contradict this by denying that they are among such people.


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Further References

Dein, S. (2012). Mental health and the paranormal. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 31 (1) 61–74.

Dutton, E., Madison, G., & Dunkel, C. (2017). The Mutant Says in His Heart, “There Is No God”: the Rejection of Collective Religiosity Centred Around the Worship of Moral Gods Is Associated with High Mutational Load. Evolutionary Psychological Science. doi:10.1007/s40806-017-0133-5

Farias, M., Underwood, R., & Claridge, G. (2012). Unusual but sound minds: Mental health indicators in spiritual individuals. British Journal of Psychology, no-no. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.2012.02128.x

May, M. (2017). Should I Stay or Should I Go? Religious (Dis)Affiliation and Depressive Symptomatology. Society and Mental Health, 2156869317748713. doi:10.1177/2156869317748713

Nie, F., & Olson, D. V. A. (2016). Demonic Influence: The Negative Mental Health Effects of Belief in Demons. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 55(3), 498-515. doi:10.1111/jssr.12287

Orenstein, A. (2002). Religion and Paranormal Belief. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(2), 301-311. doi:10.1111/1468-5906.00118

Rogers, P., Caswell, N., & Brewer, G. (2017). 2D:4D digit ratio and types of adult paranormal belief: An attempted replication and extension of Voracek (2009) with a UK sample. Personality and Individual Differences, 104, 92-97. doi:

Schofield, K., & Claridge, G. (2007). Paranormal experiences and mental health: Schizotypy as an underlying factor. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(7), 1908-1916. doi:

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Voracek, M. (2009). Who wants to believe? Associations between digit ratio (2D:4D) and paranormal and superstitious beliefs. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(2), 105-109. doi:

Wilson, M. S., Bulbulia, J., & Sibley, C. G. (2014). Differences and similarities in religious and paranormal beliefs: a typology of distinct faith signatures. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 4(2), 104-126. doi:10.1080/2153599X.2013.779934