ATHEISTS MENTALLY ILL?
proposed that atheism is the sure way to mental illness and that, in fact,
atheism is a sign of mental illness. This author simply proposes that
atheists over-rely on too much of a good thing that can lead to mental
illness over time.
This is the parallel
question that some atheists have also posed about believers. There is no
doubt that in both groups there are psychotics (People who are out of touch
with reality), psychopaths (People without a conscience) and neurotics
(People prone to anxiety, depression, etc.).
There are psychotics who
believe in God. Some believe that they talk to him on a frequent basis. Some
may believe that they are god. One individual I dealt with many years ago in
one of my psychology practica believed that he was greater than God.
Some atheist psychotics, on the other hand, may believe that God does not
exist and thus they have no one to fear as they pursue their distorted
delusions, or that god is simply an alien that they regularly communicate
In the past, there have
been believing psychopaths, such as Hitler and atheist psychopaths, such as
I am sure that there are
lots of neurotics in both camps.
Though there are mentally
ill people in both camps, I would like to propose that to succeed in
negating God's existence atheists play mental games by over-using
psychological defense mechanisms which neutralize high levels of mental
It is the view of this
author that the existence of a Creator is the most provable of all realities
and that the proofs are many and sufficient. But accepting God’s reality
for many atheists also means accepting corollary realities that are too
painful to confront. The mind of many atheists protects itself from these
realities by rejecting God’s existence. To accomplish this very difficult
feat, atheists rely heavily on the psychological defense mechanisms of
denial, rationalization, repression, suppression and displacement.
The human mind has been
given the capacity to neutralize painful mental pain by using defense
mechanisms. Such mechanisms are many and they are very effective. They help
the human mind to block out the source of pain and thus the mind is able to
function without being overwhelmed by mental discomfort.
Why is accepting God’s
existence so painful for many atheists? I would like to propose the
existence means accepting a God that permits worldwide suffering to occur on
a daily basis, whether caused by other humans or by natural disasters. To
some such a God is too painful to fathom, as it is painful to fathom that
one’s parent may have done heinous actions.
Many feel betrayed
by a God who they feel should have protected them and who instead allowed
them to come close to extermination. I am referring to the Jews in
particular. (52 % of Jews are either atheists or agnostics).
Some are afraid of
God -- the God of the Bible in particular. They have read and heard
terrifying descriptions of hell, and they are horrified that they may be
deserving of it, because of their sinful ways. Rather than mend their ways,
they block out God’s reality -- and consequently hell.
Some are angry with
God by association. They are upset with former fellow believers who may have hurt
them. They may be angry at a minister, or a priest who may have hurt or
betrayed them. They may also be angry at the hypocrisy of many religious
people and transfer their anger at God for allowing it all. They finally
punish Him for allowing their pain and disappointment and they do so by
negating His existence.
There might be more, but
I would like to propose that these are probably the major
lead many atheists to rely on defense mechanisms to block out the pain.
How do atheists use
defense mechanisms to negate God? What follows are what I believe to be the
DENIAL: This mechanism is very
simple: one simply denies reality and does so with intensity and
persistence. There are people who are told by doctors daily that they have a
terminal illness. Their way of coping is to deny that it could be true.
Atheists do the same: they intensely and persistently deny that God could
exist. They block out the possibility and fight it with all their might.
RATIONALIZATIONS: This is a
favorite mechanism of atheists. It is simply the reliance on
logical-sounding but false reasons to negate reality. Atheists will
offer countless “logical-sounding” reasons why God does not exist, or why
they cannot accept the existence of God. They are very creative at doing so,
and they specialize in using pedantic language to sound convincing to
others and to themselves. They fool themselves that they are of
superior intelligence and that they must be correct in their conclusions. In
reality, they are simply rationalizers.
REPRESSION: This mechanism
entails forcing painful material into the sub-conscious unconsciously. The
person who uses this mechanism is not aware of it. All of existence yells
out, "design." Every little detail in nature offers evidence of the Artist’s
touch. One only has to stop, observe and see that we are not surrounded by
the grotesque, but by beauty, unity and harmony. The atheist mind will not
stop and observe and see the connection. If they do stop to look, they will
acknowledge the art -- but not the artist.
SUPPRESSION: Suppression is
similar to repression, but with one exception: it is conscious. Science
is continually offering evidence of intricacy and brilliance on the
Creator’s part. The concept of design is daily being reinforced by all the
sciences. Accepting the evidence for former atheist, Anthony Flew, may have
been painful at first, but he finally accepted the glaring reality. Most
atheists will not. They will consciously “reject” the evidence,
without any fair and sufficient analysis.
DISPLACEMENT: This mechanism
has to do with transferring feelings from one deserving object to another
undeserving one. As explained above, many believers are angry and hurt,
because of abuse or mistreatment by religious people or religious leaders.
In time, they transfer their anger to God who allowed the events that
caused their pain to take place. The end result of this mechanism is to
abolish what they see as the ultimate source of their pain: God.
Having an awareness of
these and other defense mechanism is critical in maintaining a level of
mental health and of emotional maturity. Over-relying on them to cope with
life and specific pains in life can lead to disjointed thinking and
emotional immaturity. It is crucial that one develops an awareness of the
mind’s proclivity to neutralize pain by relying on these defense mechanisms.
It is essential, though, that we recognize that reality must be confronted
-- be it painful or not -- and that the causes of the pain must be faced
head on, in a courageous, honest and mature way.
I would like to encourage
atheists to consider the possibility that they may be over-using the
above defense mechanisms to cope with psychological pain relating to
religion and God. I would like to encourage them to confront the realities
that are the source of their turmoil and by so doing I believe they will
enter a new phase that will bring relief from the pain and greater mental
Finally, I would also
like to suggest to them some free literature provided by an organization
that produces high quality material for free and without follow up,
that I believe will help them greatly along the way.
hell: What does the Bible Teach?
Why does God allow suffering?
Does God exist?
Who is God?
INSIGHTFUL QUOTE PROVIDING AN ALTERNATIVE VIEWPOINT
“Further, neurological research indicates that a particular part of the
brain is connected to religious experiences. Perhaps atheists are the
product of a genetic deficiency or disorder – and if so, one can only wonder
is wrong with them. After all, most atheists seem to suffer from delusions
of grandeur, convinced that they hold the keys to humanity’s march toward
utopia. They are also quite happy to embrace programs to “improve” humanity
to suit their own purposes – hardly a coincidence, one would have to
suggest, that the most repressive regimes of recent days have all been
formulated along atheistic, humanist principles. One can only hope that the
possible link between atheism and mental illness is examined honestly before
countless others suffer needlessly.”
Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness? Wallo’s World, <http://www.walloworld.com/index.php?p=327>
(28 September, 2008).