Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Need for Religion

PZ Myers has posted a response to his response to a criticism of new atheists.

(See: Stephen Asma Responds)

The response contains the following text.

A student told me recently of how his brother had been brutally stabbed to death five years ago. He and his whole family were utterly shattered by the loss. He told me that his mother would have been institutionalized if it were not for her belief that her son was in a better place now and that she would see him again.

As I see it, this responise yields four possible implications.

Choose the one you like.

(1) Statistically, atheists are more likely to need institutionalization as a result of a tragedy such as a loved one being stabbed than theists - because theists have a coping mechanism that atheists do not have. We should be able to investigate this implication empirically.

Let us assume that the empirical research shows no such benefit.

We are then left with these three options.

(2) If this student's mother had been atheist, she probably would not have needed institutionalization. She would have dealt with it the way atheists generally cope with such things. The claim that she could not have done so and needed religion is false.

(3) For every person who could not cope as an atheists and needs religion to deal with an issue such as this, there is somebody who cannot cope as a theist and needs atheism to cope with an issue such as this.

(4) Atheists are simply better than theists in that theists need to invent fictions and myths to avoid institutionalization, while atheists are just as able to avoid institutionalization without these crutches. This suggests that religion either is, or is a system of, a mental defect of some type.

I could have missed something. If so, please let me know.

However, with these options, I pick Option 2 as being the most likely.


mobathome said...

> I could have missed something. If so, please let me know.


(5) His mother would have done better with institutionalization but did not get it because of her religion.

Anonymous said...

Even if it were true that this person's mother needed her faith in order to avoid institutionalizing; it does not prove that religion is true in anyway. This is just an example of "belief in belief", and what about those who are institutionalized just because they got became crazy as a result of religious based fears?