Christians are Delusional
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This debate will be focused around whether or not Christians are delusional. For the purposes of debate, we will be assuming that reality is real/true (no brains in jars or other baseless philosophical nonsense). With that presupposition in place, good luck to my competitor.
delusion: an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.
reality: the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.
rational: based on or in accordance with reason or logic.
- Christianity is not idiosyncratic:
As an idiosyncratic belief is necessarily unusual or strange, a belief in Christianity in America can, by definition, not be a delusion as it is neither strange nor uncommon. In fact, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center poll, 76.9% of Americans are Christians and around 2.3 billion people globally are Christians . Therefore, a belief in Christianity is quite certainly not a delusion as it is an ordinary and conventional belief, particularly in Pro's country of residence (America) but also globally.
- Christianity is not contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality:
Religious beliefs are generally considered to be unfalsifiable, therefore it seems strange to suggests that a Christian belief is "contradicted" by any form of empirical evidence as they should, by definition, not be able to. Science is concerned with the material and has nothing whatever to say about the spiritual (if something of that form does exist). Additionally, Pro ignores the term "generally". Is Christianity "generally contradicted"? It certainly isn't in the United States where Christianity is generally accepted as reality. Atheism, on the other hand, would be a delusion if one only relied on this part of the definition as according to another Pew Research Center poll , there were approximately 1.1 billion religiously unaffiliated people globally which is a clear minority compared to the other 6 billion humans in the world . Clearly Pro would not be willing to entertain the notion that atheism is a delusion (as is ironically suggested in 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ) and for the same reason, Christian belief ought not to be considered a delusion. Christianity is not generally rejected and even if it were, it would hardly be sufficient grounds for considering it a delusion.
- Christian belief is explicitly excluded from the classification of delusion in the DSM-IV:
Professor of psychology Matt J. Rossano pointed out that religious belief is necessarily excluded from the classification of delusion:
"A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture (e.g., it is not an article of religious faith)."
- APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM IV-TR, p. 821
(1) its general notions and practices are not obviously contradicted by evidence,
(2) it requires very little mental effort to sustain most religious notions,
(3) it encourages community integration which promotes healthy psychological functioning. Indeed, most empirical studies confirm that religious people tend to be happier and healthier, as well as financially, socially, and interpersonally more successful than their non-religious counterparts — wholly inconsistent with the religion-as-delusion theory. 
- 4. Surely not all Christians are delusional:
As I have pointed out before, there are approximately 2.3 billion Christians. It is likely that some of them are delusional, however, it seems ludicrous that all 2.3 billion (Pro clarified in the comment section that the debate resolution does refer to all Christians, i.e. Pro has to show that all Christians are delusional) Christians who hold vastly different religious views are delusional. Professor Jordan B. Peterson, for example, believes that Christianity contains a higher, perhaps metaphorical, truth which expresses itself in the psychological significance of the Christian stories and he argues that the probability that someone who asks him what his religious faith is construes "belief" or "God" in the same way that he does is "virtually zero" . Finally, the Christian philosopher Paul Tillich argued that religious statements are not to be understood literally but rather symbolically. Neither Prof. Peterson's, nor Prof. Tillich's beliefs are falsifiable and can thus not be shown to be false and are vastly different from what many other Christians believe. Therefore, claming that "all Christians" are delusional is an assertion that is evidently wrong.
In conclusion, Christianity does not fit the definition of delusion in several different ways as it is neither idiosyncratic, nor contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality and is inconsistent with the psychiatric classification of delusion. Furthermore, the claim that all Christians are delusional necessasitates that Pro shows that not only every one who believes every single word of the Bible literally, but also more moderate Christians and even those Christians who take an entirely non-literalist approach to Christianity are delusional.
I will address Pro's arguments in the second round to ensure fairness as I would otherwise have one more round for rebuttals than my oponent.
- For example, science has unearthed enough about chemistry and biology to allow us to extrapolate that someone who has been stone-dead for 3 days in a cave cannot be resurrected by any natural means (Mark 16:5-7). Note, there are different contradicting accounts of resurrection in the Gospels, but all the accounts make the proclamation of resurrection, which is what I am contesting.
- Scientists, through radiometric carbon dating, can demonstrate the world is older than 6 thousand years, contradictory to the extrapolated age from Genesis .
- Scientists, with their latest understandings in biological speciation and genetics, can demonstrate Adam and Eve never existed .
- A miracle would require the suspension of natural laws, and science, at the very least, detect this.
1. Several Christian beliefs are contradicted by evidence, as I previously aforementioned.
2. It requires indoctrination and often weekly congregational communions and commitments.
3. It can also obstruct science (stem cell research ) and politics (same sex marriage ), and inspire genocide . I’m not saying it always does, but it can and often has had negative effects.
If a person doesn't wish to follow or believe the Christian doctrines, that's perfectly fine; but they are then not a Christian by the definition of the word. They are simply a person who amalgamated a few Christian ideas (like Islam borrowing Judaism ideas, and Judaism borrowing Zoroastrian ideas, etc).
So when I say "all" Christians believe in magic, I am referring to all people who belong to an established and recognized Christian denomination.
- P1: All Christians believe in magic.
- P2: Someone who believes in magic is delusional.
- C: Therefore all Christians are delusional.
- Premise 1 Rebuttal:
1. Magic only refers to "apparent" influences:
The definition of "magic" that pro cited "Magic: the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces." only applies to apparently influencing the course of events. Therefore, if there was an actual influence occurring (e.g. if Jesus was actually resurrected), then it follows that it is necessarily excluded from the definition as only apparent influences are considered magic. So, unless Pro can show God definitely doesn't exist and could definitely not have performed these miracles, then it follows that most Christians do not believe in magic, even by the broadest definition of magic and would therefore not be considered delusional according to Pro's argument as the conclusion would not follow from a false premise.2. Some Christians do not believe that there is a literal God that performed literal miracles:According to Pro, "All Christians believe in one or more of the Christian tenants objectively centered around magic." this is however factually incorrect. As I have pointed out in my second round, there are some Christians who take an entirely metaphorical or symbolic view on Christianity. Furthermore, Christian Mystics focus on developing a spiritual relationship to God, rather than on literal interpretations of the Scripture. Since Pro has to BoP to show that not just some but all Christians are delusional, Pro has to show that those who take a metaphorical, spiritual and entirely non-literal approach are also delusional.
Paul: “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” [Galatians 1:11-12].
: The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine by John Anthony McGuckin 2010 pages 6-7
: Basic Christian doctrine by John H. Leith 1993 ISBN 0-664-25192-7 pages 1-2
hopefully changed some people's views.
Defence of Rebuttals:
- 1 - Christian beliefs are not idiosyncratic:
After I outlined that Christian beliefs are not idiosyncratic (the definition I gave was "idiosyncratic tendencies are unusual or strange, and not shared by other people ". Pro, on the other hand, claims that Christian beliefs are nonetheless idiosyncratic as they are "idiosyncratic to Christianity". Pro cites "google" as his source for this, presumably as to avoid a more specific analysis of his definition of idiosyncratic as he claims that "in its most basic definition it simply means peculiar or individual to something" where Pro gets the "to something" from remains unclear as when clicking on his source one merely gets "relating to idiosyncrasy; peculiar or individual.". There are however several reasons (other than that his own source does not correspond to his definition) reasons to reject his interpretation of "idiosyncratic". Firstly, if idiosyncrasy in the definition of delusions referred to "individual to something" beliefs, then it would be redundant. Every belief is "individual to something", whether it be a specific culture, country, religion (such as Christianity which has 2.3 billion members, which makes the use of the word "individual" questionable) or even a species (every single known belief is "individual to humanity" and not shared by any other species). Secondly, other definitions of the term "idiosyncratic" clearly contradict Pro's interpretation. "idiosyncratic tendencies are unusual or strange, and not shared by other people " for example clearly specifies "unusual", "strange" and "not shared by other people" which suggests that in this case, it refers to beliefs that are specific to a few individuals and uncommon in most people. Therefore, as Pro's interpretation of "idiosyncratic" is inconsistent with the source he has provided, his interpretation of the term would make it entirely redundant and it is directly contradicted by precise definitions of the term, his interpretation should be rejected. This alone leads to the conclusion that Christian beliefs can not be delusional as they are not idiosyncratic and is thereby sufficient to disprove Pro's thesis on its own.
- 2 - Christianity is not contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality:
Despite Pro's own definition of delusion and the source that he himself cited in favour of it, Pro tries to redefine delusion to be "beliefs contradicted by reality", whereas his definition reads "an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder." Pro thereby dodges the fact that whether a belief actually corresponds to reality is entirely irrelevant to the definition of delusion. The definition of delusion is merely centred around beliefs that are in conflict with what is generally considered reality. Pro furthermore argues that it is untrue that Christianity is generally accepted as reality in the US. This is however easily disproven by the fact that a clear majority of the American population believes in Christianity (around 75% ). Pro attempts to redefine another part of the definition to fit his narrative of all Christians being delusional and later even claims that the word “magic” inflammatorily connotates it’s [Christianitiy's] ridiculous nature.", this suggests that Pro's motive is to ridicule Christianity, apparently using any means necessary even changing the definitions of several words (delusion & magic), which I hope is neither taken personally, nor seriously by any one.
Pro finally argues that some claims of Christian doctrine are falsified by science. Pro thereby ignores that science can not decisively falsify supernatural claims which is noted by prominent atheists (e.g. Bertrand Russell's five-minute hypothesis states that the universe sprang into existence five minutes ago from nothing, with human memory and all other signs of history included . While scientific evidence suggests that the universe did not just spring into existence out of nothing, Russell's thought-experiment is nonetheless unfalsifiable as every possible objection such as us having memory of more than five minutes ago can simply be done away by claiming that is has been created alongside the universe five minutes ago and that all other evidence that suggests an older universe was similarly created alongside it. This demonstrates that an infinite amount of qualifications can be added to any supernatural claim to do away with any possible objection). Furthermore, Pro makes several claims that are unsupported by any sources such as that "there are different contradicting accounts of resurrection in the Gospels" although they are surely not self-evident to the millions of people that believe the word of the Bible to be literally true . Additionally, Pro goes on to cite young earth creationism (the belief that the earth was created six thousand years ago) as evidence in support of the thesis that all Christians are delusional, this is clearly not a widely held belief as even in the most Christian country (America), merely 40% of the Christians take the Bible literally  and even among the Biblical literalists the figure of six thousand years is contested. In conclusion, supernatural claims can not be decisively falsified by science as they are by definition outside the realm of the natural world (although we can show some beliefs to be less likely to be true than others) and Pro continually ignores that the majority of Christians take a non-literalist approach to the Bible and that some take an entirely symbolic or metaphorical approach to Christianity. Therefore, it does not follow that Christianity is delusional as it is false are not generally accepted as reality and as it is furthermore not entirely clear that Christian beliefs are not true (although appeals to the best explanation can in some people's opinion justify believing in a materialistic world instead).
- 3 - Christian belief is explicitly excluded from the classification of delusion in the DSM-IV:Pro claims that speaking in tongues, being possessed by demons and "other socially abnormal delusional traits" are "common" to Christians. Pro does not support this claim with a source and I find it difficult to come up with a source that investigates how high the proportion of Christians is that believes to have been possessed by demons. I would argue that this might be related to the fact that it is extremely rare, I for one can not recall ever having met anyone who claimed to have been possessed by a demon and although this is just a case study, I'm reasonably confident that everyone who reads this debate has not met considerable numbers of people that believe to have been possessed by demons. Other than that, Pro claims that because "special exclusions" were made in the DSM, this "further illustrates my [his] point". How this follows is unclear to me as in the relevant quote that I cited in round one, no "special exclusion" is made for Christianity, rather it is used as an example of a belief that does not qualify as a delusionbecause it is ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture. Clearly, no special exclusion is made, rather the diagnostic criteria are outlined and religious belief is then invoked as an example that does not fit these criteria.
- 4 - Surely not all Christians are delusional:
Pro's claim that me pointing out that it is incoherent to claim that 2.3 billion people suffer from delusions is an ad populum argument is flawed as one of the classification criteria in abnormal psychology (which delusions are a part of) is statistical infrequency . According to the statistical infrequency definition of abnormality, behaviour is classified as abnormal if it is rare or statistically infrequent, with 75% of Americans and 2.3 billion people globally sharing the Christian faith, it is evidently neither rare nor infrequent and therefore not abnormal by these standards.
Pro furthermore claims that all Christians subscribeto a particular doctrine and that all Christian doctrines encompass beliefs based in magic. Pro again provides no source to back up this point which make his claims hard to take seriously at face value as I have given examples of people that neither subscribe to a Christian doctrine, nor take the Bible literally throughout this debate. The clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson whom I have mentioned in my opening argument, for example, takes an archetypal and metaphorical stance to Christianity and said that he is not sure whether Jesus resurrected  and nonetheless he is described as a Christian by popular media , self identifies as a Christian  and even Wikipedia describes him as a Christian , therefore it seems reasonable to accept that Prof. Peterson is a Christian by any reasonable standard. By excluding Christians that take a non-literalist approach to the Bible, which would exclude 60% of all American Christians, Pro commits a No True Scotsman Fallacy by excluding all individuals from being Christian that do not fit his pre-conceived notions of being "believers in magic". Furthermore, Pro ignores Christians such as the American "cultural Catholics" which make up 9% of all American Christians , who in some cases even identify as atheists and therefore do not share any beliefs in the supernatural  and of which 40% do not share a belief in Jesus' resurrection either .
In conclusion, Pro fails to argue that all Christians are delusional as his sole argument in favour of the resolution is that all Christians believe in magic, which is wrong on several counts as the majority of Christians does not take the Bible literally and even those that do, do not “believe in magic” as what they are believing could be true for all we know and thus does not fit the definition of magic. Furthermore, to justify the (presumably provocative) claim that all Christians are delusional, Pro has to redefine the word “idiosyncratic” in the definition of “delusion” that he himself provided, which fails as it is contradicted by his own cited source, it would make the term redundant and as other definitions clearly outline that idiosyncratic refers to individual tendencies, not tendency that are individual to whole groups. Additionally, Pro neglects those Christians that take a non-literalist approach to Christianity (60% of the American Christians) throughout the entire debate, as they would not be considered delusional even if all of his arguments were sound which alone is sufficient grounds for rejecting the resolution that all Christians, without exception, are delusional.
: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDd2hXZPzb4 minute 1:50
: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIB05YeMiW8 0:00