Saturday, October 16, 2010

When Believers Accuse Atheists of Being Psychopaths

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful."
      -Lucius Annaeus Seneca "the Younger," Roman stoic philosopher, writer, and politician (4-65).

Seneca's alleged dictum is useful both for the insight it gives regarding the way populations divide themselves on religious questions and for pointing out that there are two distinct groups of people.  No, not believers and atheists but, rather, those who are concerned with truth and those who are concerned with power.  

Needless to say, psychopaths are in the latter group.  To them everything in the world, including people, is just a thing to be manipulated to meet their desires.  As Seneca rightly pointed out, anything that gives those obsessed with power control over others is something they see as useful and desirable.

Religion obviously fits that category very well.  All religions are concerned with telling people what to think and what to value, what to like and what to hate, and they are almost all, especially the Abrahamic religions, authoritarian.  The members are expected to conform or face god's wrath (not to mention the wrath of the congregation, which represents the real threat--more on that in another post).  

Furthermore, they are easy to find and often engage in uniform activities, making them, to the mind of a power seeker, a pre-formed club or constituency (or mob, if need be) that will act in a predictable manner as a group.  Better yet, to the minds of such people, they are easy to manipulate without much investigation or guesswork because their thoughts and values are known and they have a clear track record of past behavior.

The religious are not just easy to manipulate because of their pre-conceived and well-known values and thought, but also because of their temperament.  For those who see truth as an overriding consideration, joining a group where membership requires the adoption of opinions that are incorrect is not acceptable.  Those who do join such groups do so in order to attain the comfort and strength derived from being part of a large and powerful group.  In short, they are usually the type who would prefer to be wrong and strong than right and weak--or perceived as weak.

Such a power base is too tempting to pass up for people who value power over truth in addition to being consistent with their own internal nature.  Whether such people actually believe or not doesn't matter (remember, they are more concerned with power than truth), they will join, conform and seek a prominent place in the church as quickly as they can.

So, how do you know if an atheist is a psychopath?  If he belongs to a church and pretends to be a believer, especially if he belongs to more than one church (and tries to keep it secret or at least low key).  Confusing you say?  Can't tell them from the real believers?  Well, consider the converse:  If he admits to being an atheist, then he probably isn't a psychopath because such a course of action is one of the most dis-empowering things a person can do in modern society (unless he lives in Sweden or such place where atheism is popular).  He may seem angry, depressed or bitter, but those are not the symptoms of psychopathy; they are the symptoms of being an out of the closet atheist in a society that discriminates against atheists.

So, the next time you hear this canard about atheists being psychopathic, say:

"If I were a psychopath, I would never admit to being an atheist.  Pretending to believe and cynically manipulating believers would give a psychopath much more gratification than constantly being abused by believers."

This is not to say that all atheists who stay in the closet are psychopaths.  Most who do so are simply acting out of fear because of that same track record of behavior by the religious that I mentioned earlier.  As I pointed out in earlier posts, the religious unconsciously admit to being psychopathic themselves by admitting they have no internal morality, their words and their holy writings reveal that their god is psychopathic, and their track record as a violent, intolerant mob is well established.

The average believer may not be an actual psychopath, but they often act that way because it is inherent in their belief system and because their congregations are so often in the sway of real psychopaths.

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