Thursday, July 24, 2008

Are Atheists the only sane people on the Planet?

This gentleman is Antonie Dixon.

Last week, jurors in the Auckland High Court were told he heard the voice of God, before a violent spree that left a man dead and two women with horrific injuries.

His weapon of choice to inflict those injuries: a samurai sword.

"I went outside and spoke to God and he said they were Judas's, to behead them, and to turn the sword and kill myself."

Dixon is charged with seriously injuring Renee Gunbie and Simone Butler and murdering James Te Aute in January 2003. Dixon said he shot Mr Te Aute because he could see horns coming out of his head.

Dixon also testified he could telepathically communicate with his mother, and that he was told by her that he had inherited a demon from his father.

What the court must decide is whether Dixon was truly ‘around the bend’ when he went on his rampage or simply feigning mental illness to get off the rap.

The ‘Devil made me do it’ defence is a fairly prevalent occurrence.

David Berkowitz, the serial killer known as ‘The Son of Sam’, claimed demons drove him from his family home and then the neighbours pet Labrador was possessed, and the dog commanded him to go on his killing spree.

But let’s face it - it’s not just so called ‘nutters’ say they can ‘hear’ God, Demons, Angels etc.

Are there simply degrees of ‘religious psychosis’ that modern psychiatry has yet to get a grip of?

Let me introduce my theory:

- At one end of the spectrum we have individuals who are not susceptible to religious indoctrination. They form the backbone of the skeptic,atheistic communities.

- In the middle some where, is your standard Sunday Church goer who likes to ‘believe’ in nice things, and accepts the existence an invisible god father. They engage in the practice as a harmless diversion to the real world. They would either label Dixon 'mad' or claim 'God would never instruct anyone to do this'.

- Then at the other end of the scale we have the Antonie Dixon’s, David Berkowitz’s of the world who claim profusely, to hear the literal voice of entities, and act on these. These are also the people that crash planes into buildings.

Worryingly we have people in the corridors of power in fall into this last category.

Namely, the most powerful man on the planet.

“God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them”

“George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq. And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me"

Believing in a deity, believing that deity controls your actions etc, is therefore a matter of degrees.

Billions of humans believe invisible deities guide their lives, and are not thrown into straight jackets.

By in large we treat those grasped by religiosity in the same way we treat a child with an invisible friend.

It’s only when that ‘friend’ instructs you to slice an arm off using a samurai sword, your sanity is questioned.

Speaking to God is fine, but receiving instructions from an Alien out the back of Proxima Centauri would be enough to get you certified.

Are atheists by definition, the only sane ones on the planet?


TobyRicketts said...

Exactly. I thought the very same thing when I read the article about this religious nutbar. Love the blog, keep up the good work!

Christian said...

It is quite the norm to believe in God, as much of the world testifies. Philosopher Alvin Plantinga argues that, if functioning properly, humans will believe in God. Interesting, this implies that those who reject God are therefore malfunctioning -- thus as the Bible teaches, those who reject God are in rebellion and their minds are darkened.

Did you guys see the recent William Lane Craig/Bill Cooke debate? It is on YouTube and

Canterbury Atheists said...

Hi there Christian (the guy from ‘The Bounty’ right?) Using your logic it is also normal to masturbate, so those who don’t, and those that futilely try and suppress the act, are abnormal = followers of The Bible. I’m afraid you are missing the point here mate. Even a rabid God Botherer like you, doesn’t seriously think Gods or supernatural entities physically issue commands to people? The only thoughts one hears in ones head, are self manifested. Individuals choose to invade Middle Eastern countries under their own volition, not via the command of an invisible sky daddy. If you want to try speaking to non-evident beings (call them Gods or the alien Zaphod Bebblebrox) then this could be termed a mild case of psychosis, but mostly harmless (to quote Douglas Adams twice in the same sentence). It’s fairly clear some people are just more susceptible to religious indoctrination. The more extreme of this scale are dangerous and delusional. As Toby put's it above nutbars!Thanks for your comments.Paul.

Fiducia Nullus said...

"When I look upon seamen, men of science and philosophers, man is the wisest of all beings; when I look upon priests and prophets nothing is as contemptible as man." -- Diogenes