Thursday, December 06, 2007

Religion: Sacrificium Intellectus or Simply Delusional Psychosis

Sacrificium Intellectus: the sacrifice of the intellect, silencing the voice of reason in favour of blind faith is, according to Ignatius Loyola, the duty of those who believe in god. Though Loyola was a Jesuit, the followers of all religious cults and ideologies renounce reason with alacrity. These people are true misologists, haters of reason, a type excoriated by Plato and subsequently by Kant in his 'Critique of Pure Reason' and 'Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals', though he owes much to Bayle who argued in his 'Historical and Critical Dictionary' that religion is not preferable to atheism and that atheists can be morally upright members of society - a view sadly still denied today by the soi disant god-fearing dupes, weirdos, sickos, psychos, liars, fraudsters and swindlers who would like you to believe that their beliefs are paramount, and that we should respect them for no other reason than they claim to believe the vile and irrational nonsense which they spout.

Not to be outdone by Loyola, some 300 hundred years later the philosopher and devout Christian, Soren Kierkegaard, acknowledged that whilst one cannot know or prove that ‘God’ exists, Christians must simply and passionately commit themselves to make a ‘leap of faith’ that ‘He’ does. Further, he insisted that this leap of faith could not be based on rational reasons, but that it was simply the result of subjective or personal necessity and passionate commitment on the part of the religiously minded. What Kierkegaard failed to point out was that the ‘leap of faith’ he insisted was necessary for one who claimed to ‘believe’ in ‘God’ was nothing other than a symptom of delusional psychopathology.

Over the years, there have been a number of influential studies into the reasoning processes of deluded and delusion-prone individuals. Most of these studies used an approach consistent with the prevailing diagnostic definition of delusions, according to which delusional beliefs are based on an “incorrect inference about external reality” - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, International Version (DSM-IV) p. 783.

One of the most recent of these studies, published 2006, was entitled Need for Closure, Jumping to Conclusions, and Decisiveness in Delusion-Prone Individuals, by McKay, Langdon & Coltheart, where ˜need for closure” refers to a motivated need for certainty, whilst ˜jumping-to-conclusions” bias refers to the gathering of minimal data when making overconfident probabilistic judgements; both of these constructs have been associated independently with delusion-proneness.

The methodology involved the use of standard tools, such as the Peters et al Delusion Inventory, the Huq et al experimental beads task, the Milgram and Tenne scales of decisional procrastination, and the Kruglanski et al. need for closure scale, amongst others.

Whilst it was the view of some earlier researchers that the need for closure motivates a jumping-to-conclusions bias, leading, in turn, to delusion-proneness, no study to date has provided evidence of a direct relationship between greater need for closure and jumping to conclusions.

The findings of this study were that the various facets of need for closure proved to be independent; e.g. intolerance of ambiguity correlated positively with delusion-proneness, whilst decisiveness correlated negatively. The finding that delusion-prone individuals are more indecisive in everyday life was replicated using different scales. Delusion proneness is associated independently with jumping-to-conclusions bias on experimental reasoning tasks, intolerance of ambiguity, and indecision concerning real-life dilemmas.

The results indicated that the jumping-to-conclusions bias may be associated more specifically with a propensity to hold implausible beliefs with unwarranted conviction. Results also indicated that need for closure (NFC) is not a unitary construct in relation to delusion-proneness, i.e. NFC intolerance of ambiguity and NFC decisiveness dissociated, whereas intolerance of ambiguity correlated positively with all aspects of delusion-proneness, decisiveness correlated negatively. However the researchers noted here that it was primarily heightened distress concerning implausible thoughts that predicted indecision concerning real-world dilemmas, as assessed using the NFC decisiveness scales. Furthermore, in the case of implausible ideas that come to consciousness as self-generated notions, these might also be associated with an inappropriate sense of heightened salience, leading to the unwarranted sense of conviction. This suggest that delusional and delusion-prone people express unwarranted conviction in their implausible ideas and jump to conclusions on an reasoning task because they attach inappropriate heightened salience to whatever presents to consciousness as an internally generated first-person representation of reality,

The conclusion is that these results suggest that, if anything, delusion-proneness, or at least delusional distress, is associated with indecisiveness concerning real-life dilemmas. They also suggest that delusion-prone individuals attach an inappropriate heightened salience to whatever presents to immediate consciousness as an internally generated (first-person) representation of reality. The authors of this paper draw on the findings of previous researchers which suggest that it might be this inappropriate salience that then causes the unwarranted conviction in implausible ideas, the jumping-to conclusions bias on an experimental probabilistic reasoning task, and the intolerance of ambiguity and indecisiveness concerning real-life dilemmas that they found in relation to delusion-proneness.

Whilst this abstract does not do justice to a fine highly technical paper, it is interesting to see how many of these summarized conclusions apply to so-called religious beliefs and those who claim to hold them. If theists so-called ‘belief’ in ’God’ is not a motivated by their need for certainty, or that their claims that their ‘God’ is the first cause and prime-mover is not the making of overconfident judgements on minimal data, or the fact that they claim that the rules for living a decent life can only come from their ‘God’ indicate that they are unable to act decisively for themselves, then they must provide rational, objective reasons for their faith, otherwise they must accept the evidence of Loyola, Kierkegaard and McKay et al: religious belief is delusional activity.


papalazarou said...

sorry guy but that is too closely reasoned and logical to have any chance of being read, let alone comprehended, by any god botherer I've run across of late - good piece but ...

The Merchant of Menace said...

Ah, well, not to worry, since theists have never been interested in ratiocination and logic anyway when it shows their faith to be nothing other than delusional nonsense. This is why the philosopher and devout Xtian Soren Kierkegaard had to admit that their faith could not be justified by science,logic or reason.

audrey said...

Excellent explication, my good man! I have but one question: Is it wrong of me to wish that most xians would take that "leap of faith" from the top of a very high cliff?

The Merchant of Menace said...


Now I know that you are a wonderful warm-hearted person and that you mean that only metaphorically, so it is not wrong for you to wish that at all. Personally, I wish all theists were all piled into a heap and set on fire, but then I'm an old curmudgeon.

Silliman71 said...

Well I cheerfully agree with all you despisers of religious nuts and associated know-nothing arrogance but you're wrong about Kierkegaard as are most 20th-century readers. His point was that self-sacrificial LOVE cannot be justified by reason and therefore if there HAS to be a rational resolution of the will it will come in the form of the logical necessity for the sacrificium intellectus. For the rational mind that means death, and while your poster's psychologists are right enough about the jump to conclusions, Kierkegaard warned that such a fate would await anyone who understood the situation and did not have recourse to the actuality of the death of Christ on the cross. Why? Because it compels recognition of the reality of that death instead of one's own (one of those inappropriate probabilistic conclusions) which is the only way reason can be made to conclude the reality of anything without presupposing it (Kant, on Descarte, remember?). Hence the 'sacrificium intellectus,' far from being an embrace of delusion, is a consequence of one's introduction to the full reality of the Other, person, dead Jesus and solution-providing God, which reason always beholds only through a filter of unexamined self-interest.
Nice try boys. You're right about every existing believer, but not Kierkegaard and not the God he knew.

The Merchant of Menace said...

Only just noticed your comment, Silliman, and sorry I was unable to reply sooner.

Whilst I admire your confidence in asserting that not only do I but also most twentieth century readers misunderstand Kierkegaard - but not you, apparently - I completely disagree with your interpretation and conclusion, though I have neither the time nor the inclination to elucidate my reasoning here. Suffice to say that your concluding remark is completely misplaced and totally erroneous. I quote: "You're right about every existing believer, but not Kierkegaard and not the God he knew." Simply put, Kierkegaard did not "know" 'God'; you may choose to believe that he did, but he acknowledged that such knowledge was not possible.

In conclusion, thanks for sharing your own idiosyncratic interpretation of Kierkegaard's views on the subject, even if it is incorrect. It is also notable that you are unable to displace any of the objective evidence which substantiates my point, namely that all religious belief is delusional activity.

Just a Blogger said...

I think you totally miss the point....
Here is another point of view about what faith is and what faith is not...

The Merchant of Menace said...

Well, Just a Blogger, I'm sorry to disabuse you but it is not me who misses the point but YOU and the delusional person who wrote the blog to which you referred. Despite his alleged scientific background his faith is not scientific but simply a symptom of his psychopathology. Either that or he is a pathological liar.

Oh, and if you or the demented blogger in question wishes to dispute what I have said, please provide a single scintilla of credible scientific evidence that (a) can be independently verified and (b) proves that this so-called 'god' you claim to believe in objectively exists.

By the way, since no one so far has been able to prove the claim that this 'god' you refer to is any more real that the thousands of 'gods' mankind has invented over the millennia, your 'scientific' blogger will be odds on favourite to receive a Nobel Laureateship in science when he does so.

Now why don't you both retreat back into the cosy little word of make-believe that you like to hide in instead of waffling your delusional inanities here.

Just a Blogger said...

Is Love real?
Prove it.

The Merchant of Menace said...

This blog is about the fact that religious belief is psychopathology and that those who profess to believe in it are liars, imbeciles, or simply suffering from a mental disorder, so do stop trying to change the subject in an effort to obfuscate the issue.

The ineluctable fact of the matter is that neither you nor anyone else can provide a single scintilla of credible scientific evidence that (a) can be independently verified and (b) proves that this so-called 'god' you imply exists does so.

In conclusion, if you wish to question whether 'love' exists or if it can be proven, I suggest you do so elsewhere as I am not interested in your attempts to avoid dealing with the issues raised in this blog. Therefore, if you post another comment which I consider off-topic it will be deleted out of hand.

Just a Blogger said...

I am merely pointing out the fact that absence of proof does not necessarily prove absence.
In other words... you can't prove a negative.

Do you believe in love?
If you do then show me how you can prove that it exists.

It is a fact that we all believe in things we cannot prove.

The Merchant of Menace said...

Again you waste my time with irrelevant non sequiturs.

The claim that absence of proof is not proof of this so-called 'god's absence is not only irrelevant, invalid but mere sophistry.

Those who maintain that their version of this supernatural entity objectively exists are required to provide valid, empiric and testable proof for their claims.

To reiterate, no-one over the millennia has ever produced a single scintilla of valid evidence.

However, if soi disant 'believers' wish to remain in their psychotic delusions that's fine by me, but don't start telling the rest of us that your psychotic delusions are real.

Now stop wasting my time with your nonsense.