The Ten Marks of a Deluded Person

Below in no particular order are what I consider the ten marks (or characteristics) of a deluded person. I think even educated Christians will agree with most of them. You might want to consider from this checklist how many of them apply to you. To the degree that more of them apply then the more likely you are deluded by your faith. Now it's quite possible that Christians can be deluded and yet their faith is true, in the same sense that a person might be brainwashed or indoctrinated into believing the truth. But the point is that if you're deluded then you have no reason to believe.

A deluded person is more likely than not one who...

1) Was born and raised into his or her religious faith. Just taking the odds at face value this is non-controversial and undeniable given the number of religions propagated around the globe and adhered to with utter and complete confidence as the one true faith.

2) As an adult never adopts nor cultivates the adult attitude of doubt. All adults must revisit the religious faith taught to them by their parents since #1 above is undeniably true. That means they must doubt. Doubt is the adult attitude.

3) Never reads widely or is exposed to other points of view in the media. I'm talking about non-fiction works about the sciences, different cultures, different faiths, and those written by skeptics or non-believers. To escape from being deluded, believers should read books that are written by people within different cultures and faith communities, and watch programs on the History Channel, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS, 60 Minutes, Dateline, and yes, YouTube.

4) Does not travel widely including travel into different cultures. A deluded person only experiences a small slice of the pie. One must experience the world to see how others live. The more the better. Such a person basically stays within the social confines of like-minded religious people. The Amish are the extreme examples of this. Many believers only have believing friends. Even if believers cannot travel the world they can still step outside their social grouping to meet other people who think differently. Most believers do not trust people of different faiths or non-believers. Seek them out. Attend a freethinker's group meeting. Get to know them. Become friends with them.

5) Never studies deeply into the nature of his or her adopted faith. The more you know the less you believe, the less confident you become, and the more you doubt.

6) Lies in order to defend one's faith. There are plenty of examples of this, from faking stories about finding Noah's Ark, to fudging the truth when there is no reasonable response, to making up personal healing stories, to claiming a conversion from a position of intellectual atheism (versus a practical atheism) to Evangelical Christianity like Lee Strobel and David Wood, to personal and unjustified attacks on anyone who questions one's faith in order to poison the well against them, to debate tactics like the ones used by Bill Craig and Dinesh D'Souza who as debaters, just like boxers in a ring, are out to win the debate no matter what must be said in order to win it. These are liars for Jesus to various degrees. If you have to lie to defend your faith then you need help.

7) Preaches to people who think differently rather than rationally engaging them. I am constantly amazed, bewildered, frustrated, and bored with the kind of responses I see from believers who comment here at DC. They come here preaching. They pontificate. They quote mine from the Bible. They even say we're going to hell with glee. Many of them merely mouth the words of the creeds and affirm what they believe, rather than actually engaging us with a rational discussion about the basis for believing in the first place. They come here preaching to us from an ancient superstitious set of texts rather than showing us why we should believe them in the first place.

8) Claims he or she does not need evidence to believe. Take notice Alvin Plantinga and Bill Craig! This is utterly delusional thinking especially when we consider all of the things they must take as properly basic beliefs coming from the witness of the Holy Spirit. As someone said, "what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." Anyone who claims his or her faith does not need evidence, even if true, ought to take a reality check.

9) Must be convinced that his or her faith is impossible before seeing it as improbable. Time after time believers will claim I have not proved that their faith is impossible, and so lacking this kind of proof they still claim to have a reason to believe. However, we're always talking about probabilities. So even if it's still possible to believe in light of a number of problems for faith, it's still an improbable faith and that should be good enough.

10) Must denigrate the sciences in order to have faith. This is what I see time after time. Believers denigrate the sciences in a number of ways in order to believe. That's because faith demands it. Some believers don't even know what I'm talking about. Since science tells us prayer doesn't work then it doesn't work. It tells us the universe is 13.7 billion years old. It tells us we evolved. It tells us there was no Israelite Exodus from Egypt. It tells us the Nativity stories in the Gospels could not be true. It tells us virgins do not have babies. It tells us that dead people do not bodily rise from the grave. Christians must denigrate science in order to believe. Science or Faith? Science has a track record. Faith flies planes into buildings. Science all the way, hands down. End of story.

First posted 3/8/11