Is Mental Illness Curable by Miraculous Intervention By God?

Every now and then in my happy travels of the internets, I run across stuff in social media I’m energized to respond to.  Below is my response to a blog hosted by a young woman who professes to, in her words, have frank conversations with readers.

My topics are controversial. My tone is unapologetic. And I won’t be distracted by                 readers who want “nice” more than they want “true.”  

So I’m like, hey I’m up for some honest chit chat about controversial topics.  The post was promoted on twitter directly to the atheism hash tag, so the author must want atheists to respond.  Um, not so much as it turns out.  Evidently Amanda just wants to “say” her version of “true” things without the tedium of having to hear from anyone, [an attitude I find typical of US christians] as my comment didn’t make it out of moderation.  It is my policy to mirror posts here that don’t make it elsewhere.  I love freedom of speech.  Amanda is welcome to post comments here, the only person currently prohibited from comment here is my good friend SilenceOfMind.   If he actually had constructive things to say, he would be welcome also. But I digress.

The post centered around a gentleman who made a video whose apparent purpose is to be a personal testimony of how his life was changed by faith and prayer.  It’s intended to be more credible because “he used to be an atheist”. Where have I heard that before? It’s over 30 minutes but I find myself in the curious position of asking patience of readers of a video I found distasteful and dishonest, and completely unsupported by fact.  He makes some fantastic claims your should hear.

Here’s the video:

Here’s my comment:

Hi~ newb comment.

First off, in the interest of honesty, I haven’t read your other posts linked so I don’t know what your feelings are about mental illness, and I *really* had to force myself to watch the whole video. Nothing I heard was intellectually or emotionally compelling to me in the slightest. It DID make me angry to hear the same old tripe dressed as a miracle, and the “atheism whitewash” we get from apologists who wish to demean atheism.

I have no way of knowing how much of what he said was true. He certainly didn’t offer any evidence. Was he a sociopath with schizophrenic episodes cured by a prayer of all things? If he was diagnosed as such, it would defy current medical knowledge that he had achieved anything other than a recovery. Recovery doesn’t mean cure. Traditionally, the medical model of treatment has defined a “good outcome” from schizophrenia only in terms of a total cessation of symptoms, with no further hospitalization. There are a certain percentage of schizophrenics that have structural brain abnormalities. If he is one of those, then his claims are testable, and I know of no recorded instance in medicine where structural anomalies have been miraculously cured. Also, sociopaths can integrate by learning to use coping skills from life experience and therapy. They still don’t feel empathy, but they know to “act” like they do. That’s how serial killers hide in plain sight in their communities.

There are compelling reasons for Dave to present as a “christian”. It’s de rigueur for prisoners to get a good case of jesus right before the parole board hearing. There are religious prison outreach programs that provide support for parolees, housing jobs, etc. and it’s helpful with maintaining the facade of propriety in the communities where they reside. Is it possible he’s reformed? Yes. Prison’s not a good place to be and most will try and avoid it given an opportunity. Is his position on belief credible? In my mind Dave starts from a position of horseshit and ends with the conclusion that god is the answer. Not even beginning to buy it. Would I sleep with him in the same house? Not in this lifetime. He falls into the category of trust only after lengthy and repeated rigorous verification.

…..”how do we know anger and fear and torture aren’t just the next stage of Human Evolution?”

Because it’s not a successful model biologically whereas cooperation is. There’s absolutely no environmental pressure that would encourage that behavior long enough to produce a speciation event.

Any thoughts?  What do *you* think?


Update: Well that didn’t last long.  In the space of one reply from me, Amanda is “struggling to know when to end our conversation”.  [See highlighted area of the graphic]


I answer the central premise of her original post, [Can mental illness be cured? Not the kvetching about feelings we end up with]  she complains I didn’t answer her questions. Then I answer her questions and she claims I don’t understand her point peppered with ad hominem about atheism.  If her original point was about feelings, then it was a masterful misdirection to make the centerpiece about mental illness being healed by prayer and faith.

I do understand one thing.  She admires a psychopath who hammered his father in the head while he slept, and seemingly wants to defend his actions by validating his “lack of empathy” as a different path unworthy of any kind of criticism.  She might  examine her moral compass as it might be flawed.  But what do I know, I’m just an atheist.

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18 Responses to Is Mental Illness Curable by Miraculous Intervention By God?

  1. mrsmcmommy says:

    For the record, I have a policy of all first-time commenters going straight to moderation. But I approve everyone who isn’t a robot. So, have no fear.
    Now all two dozen of my readers can see your very lovely dance around my questions. 😉


    • persedeplume says:

      It’s common for first time commenters to go to moderation. I have the same settings here. But let’s not play with each other. Those who have blogs know instantly upon reading whether or not someone is a “robot”. That’s what Akismet is for. Based on past experience, more than 8-12 hours until approval is generally an indication the comment is going to be screened for content. I’m delighted you chose to participate. As you can see from my original response and the followup if you do line by line answers to rhetorical questions and opining, it doesn’t take long for it to exceed the length of the original post. So I commented on the central theme of your post and left the peripheral issues alone. Also, questions are generally characterized in grammar by “?” at the end of a sentence. I’m more than happy to bat any ball you or your readers pitch, as long as you don’t mind the length of the answers.


  2. Think Always says:

    Well put. Theists who focus on the red herrings of meaning and morality are playing games. It essentially comes down to question-begging.

    She wrote in one comment: “On one hand, you tell me love and empathy are chemical processes in the brain–and we can’t rely on them. But, on the other hand, you claim they give meaning to life. Meaning to life?! How can molecules and electricity be MEANINGFUL?”

    Well isn’t that the amazing thing about it? Chemical processes in the brain give us a sense of meaning in life. Who would’ve thunk it? Now remind me how that fact proves God’s existence…

    Where does someone learn that chemical processes and the human brain cannot create a sense of meaning in life without the existence of the Judeo-Christian God? Weak apologetics tactic. How would you justify a presupposition such as that?

    And where did God get his sense of meaning to begin with if no one was able to give it to him? Like the design argument, they are willing to leave God’s complexity as fully unexplained but unwilling to leave the universe itself unexplained; thus postulating a God of the gaps.

    If God exists, wouldn’t he be wondering what the meaning of his existence is too? He would probably create stories of gods to explain his existence as well.

    And where do people learn that chemical processes in the brain are ‘unreliable?’ We are fallible certainly; but what do Xians even mean by that assertion? There goes that another Lewis ‘argument.’

    I’m sarcastic tonight. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. persedeplume says:

    They never seem to get around to explaining what the difference is between the meaning people assign to their thoughts, emotions, and lives and the meaning “god” gives it in his mysterious way. Either way it happens inside their head, not in the universe at large. [sigh]
    The whole concept of god is an infantilization of ourselves as a species. It’s ridiculous. We need to grow up.


  4. KIA says:

    Oh did you piss off mommy dearest? She’s not much of a Christian at all


  5. Pingback: On the Enigmatic Mr Wood, An Response to Mel Wild | MyDoorIsAjar

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