You may recall that I wrote a piece last summer in which I asserted, citing a Christian source, that God is a lousy babysitter. I’m sorry to say that I have more evidence to support that assertion.
Today’s edition of the Washington Post includes the tragic story of a 16-month old Baltimore boy who was starved to death by his caregivers (the snotty little tyke refused to say “amen” at mealtimes), then stuffed into a suitcase and transported to Philadelphia, where his remains were abandoned in a shed.
The part of the article that I find fascinating is this (emphases added):
Psychiatrists who evaluated Ramkissoon at the request of a judge concluded that she was not criminally insane. Her attorney, Steven Silverman, said the doctors found that her beliefs were indistinguishable from religious beliefs, in part because they were shared by those around her.
“She wasn’t delusional, because she was following a religion,” Silverman said, describing the findings of the doctors’ psychiatric evaluation….
Silverman said he and prosecutors think Ramkissoon was brainwashed and should have been found not criminally responsible; prosecutors declined to comment. Although an inability to think critically can be a sign of brainwashing, experts said, the line between that and some religious beliefs can be difficult to discern.
“At times there can be an overlap between extreme religious conviction and delusion,” said Robert Jay Lifton, a cult expert and psychiatrist who lectures at Harvard Medical School. “It’s a difficult area for psychiatry and the legal system.”
I recognize that Richard Dawkins’ selection of The God Delusion as the title of his recent book was, at least in part, a marketing ploy. But, when one reads the story cited above and contrasts it with the one below, one is inclined to think that Dawkins actually, perhaps somewhat unwittingly, called it right (perhaps the title was inspired?).
Karyn (yes, the one who imagines that Jesus is her boyfriend) wrote a post this past week about how she lost her keys – couldn’t find them anywhere – prayed about her dilemma, had a colleague pray too, and voilá – the keys were found! Praise God for all blessings great and small. (He obviously focuses solely on small blessings now – finding keys, appearing on grilled cheese sandwiches and the like).
Now, I ask you: who is more delusional? The believers who starved a child to death for not reciting their mantra, or the narcissist who imagined that a deity observing the affairs of 6.7 billion people gave a damn about her keys? What kind of a deity allows one set of believers to starve a child to death, but spares another believer the expense of cutting a new set of keys? Obviously, the legalistic beliefs that led to the death of a child are far more destructive than the self-centered belief of the key lady. Nevertheless, both sorts of beliefs (and all other similar ones) are delusional. Humankind needs to grow up and discard all such nonsense on the trash heap of our juvenile, superstitious, less enlightened past.
– the chaplain