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Jul 29 2009

Chemical imbalance supercedes God’s Love

One of the arguments our favorite Creationists troll par excellence Zdenny has made in recent weeks is that God’s love is perfect, and if you believe in God (and are a True Scotsman), then even a chemical imbalance in your brain will keep you from doing horrible things to your friends, family and children.

So why did this religious woman who was afflicted with post-partum depression kill, dismember and eat the brains and several body parts of her 3 1/2 month old baby? Because Satan told her to.

The scene was so gruesome investigators could barely speak: A 3 1/2-week-old boy lay dismembered in the bedroom of a single-story house, three of his tiny toes chewed off, his face torn away, his head severed and his brains ripped out.

Officers called to the home early Sunday found the boy’s mother, Otty Sanchez, sitting on the couch with a self-inflicted wound to her chest and her throat partially slashed, screaming “I killed my baby! I killed my baby!” police said. She told officers the devil made her do it, police said.

Let me make this perfectly clear. Being religious did not directly lead to Sanchez’s psychotic break. She was suffering from post-partum depression and had been in psych wards several times recently, coupled with the fact that her baby’s father had moved out just a week prior. The problem here is not that religion leads to psychosis. The problem is that religion teaches you that supernatural omnipotent beings like God or Satan exist, and that they talk to people in the Bible and impel them to do things.

When you start to hear voices in your head commanding you to do things nowadays, it is known that you are suffering from some kind of chemical imbalance and that certain medical treatments are available to fix them. However, if you are brought up to believe that these voices are possibly commands from some deity or another, you might just do what they tell you to do, or try to maim or kill someone that you think is being influenced by some demon.

The other two examples given in this article are illustrative of this:

Andrea Yates drowned her five children in her Houston-area home 2001, saying she believed Satan was inside her and trying to save them from hell. Her attorneys said she had been suffering from severe postpartum psychosis, and a jury found Yates not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006.

In 2004, Dena Schlosser killed her 10-month-old in her Plano home by slicing off the baby’s arms. She was found not guilty of reason by insanity, after testifying that she killed the baby because she wanted to give her to God.

I’d like to think rationalists like myself, who believe in evidence and proof and do not believe in supernatural deities, who understand that our mental state is concomitant with the neurochemical processes that happen within our brains, would seek help immediately if we start hearing voices. I can’t say for sure that I actually WOULD — I mean, my brain chemistry will have been compromised in such a situation — but I certainly hope that I’d be cogent enough to recognize the signs and seek medical help before I hurt someone. I mean, what’s the likelihood that “probably no god” will start speaking to us?

Hat tip to Friendly Atheist.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    ZDENNY

    You haven’t shown that she had God’s love to start with. In addition, you still have not shown that if she did have God’s love that a impairment in her faculties had removed God’s love from her inner life.

    Lastly, the woman violated the Word of God when she hurt her innocent child. If God told her to do something contrary to His Word, then that is not the voice of God speaking to her.

    Jason, you simply don’t understand Christianity. Your argument is very poor and certainly not convincing.

    The argument is a Red Herring…

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    So you’re saying she’s No True Scotsman. Wow, just like I predicted in my very first sentence of this post. I must be magic or divinely inspired!

    Go click that “true scotsman” link. Read it. Come back here and understand why you cannot say what you are saying because it is tangential to the discussion. In fact, I want you to post your very next comment with an earnest explanation as to why your previous comment is wrong and stupid. If you do not, then you forfeit this entire argument.

  3. 3
    ZDENNY

    The reason that she killed her baby is due to Secularism.

    Secularist are always trying to convince people that the Bible is not trust worthy. In this particular case, the woman acting on her own feelings rather than on the Word of God decided to kill her baby.

    Secularism confuses nominal Christians because Secularism teaches that man is God and that the decisions that a person makes are always right.

    Christians don’t support acting on feelings. Christians believe acting in accordance with the Word of God.

    The real trouble for this woman is that she has mixed secularism with the idea of the devil.

    Secularism by itself is dangerous; however, a person can mix the idea of the devil with secularism and end up with a justified action in her own mind.

    The problem is that she should have acted on God’s Word. This woman appears to be a religious secularist rather than a Christian.

  4. 4
    Jason Thibeault

    Secularism as a philosophy is the desire to have government make absolutely no pronouncements or preferences regarding any religion. To be secular is to abstain from religion.

    A) she believes in God and Satan, which directly contradicts your assertion of secularism.

    B) she believes Satan told her to kill her child, which a secular person would not believe.

    You have not read the No True Scotsman fallacy link, because you are making the argument again. You forfeit the argument. You lose.

    You’re also incapable of understanding the point of my post. Here, maybe if I bold, underline and italicize it, you’ll understand.

    Let me make this perfectly clear. Being religious did not directly lead to Sanchez’s psychotic break. She was suffering from post-partum depression and had been in psych wards several times recently, coupled with the fact that her baby’s father had moved out just a week prior. The problem here is not that religion leads to psychosis. The problem is that religion teaches you that supernatural omnipotent beings like God or Satan exist, and that they talk to people in the Bible and impel them to do things.

  5. 5
    ZDENNY

    Jason said, “To be secular is to abstain from religion.”

    Your definition is incorrect.

    The reason one abstains from religion is because they don’t believe it is true. Secularism teaches either that God does not exist or if He exist, He cannot be known.

    A secularist can believe in ‘God’ and ‘Satan” or anything thing else they want to believe. Since the woman did not consult the Word of God, she acted on her feelings.

    Why did the woman not act in accordance with the Word of God?

    The reason for that is because she is a religious secular humanist. She is acting on her feelings rather than the Word of God. She acts on her feelings because she does not believe that the Word of God is knowable.

    A secularist can believe in God…Obama does for sure. Obama is a secularist though because he doesn’t believe that God can be known.

    The example you give is also a perfect example of how atheist look at an exception to create a general rule.

    The fact is that without the love of God, the only alternative is brute power.

    The argument is really a mirror argument because I can flip it right back at you and note a few secularist who have done horrible things while they were sane! A few good secularist I can mention are Stalin, Hitler and Kim Jong Il.

    Without love in a society, society becomes based on power. Without love, you end up with monsters like Stalin.

    Does Stalin speak for all Secularist? Well, Obama is certainly trying to centralize power in Washington in a similar way that Stalin did. There certainly does seem to be a pattern.

    Jason, can’t you see it…One of these days it will hit you like a pile of bricks!

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    Secularist != atheist. What the hell dude.

    Stop saying that every Christian that does shitty things, or even just things that YOU consider shitty, is an atheist or secular. All you’re doing is making the No True Scotsman argument again, and a-fucking-gain. You’re a damnable broken record.

    Hitler was Catholic. He believed in God and believed he was doing God’s work. We do not care that he was Catholic, and don’t blame his Catholicism for his being genocidal maniac. Nor should you care that Stalin was atheist. His problem was not his atheism, his problem was that he was a genocidal maniac.

    Shut the fuck up. I’m tired of you.

  7. 7
    ZDENNY

    The fact is that the fact can be falsified so it is not a a True Scotsman fallacy.

    The fact is that she did not act in accordance with the Word of God; rather, she acted on her feelings. As such, she is a religious secular humanist or at least acting like one in her actions. She does not believe that God’s will is knowable, so she makes it up something which any secularist can do.

    Her actions identify who she is and what she believes. She believes the exact same thing that a secularist does!

    Secularist get feelings all the time! A secularist might feel they need to call their girlfriend and tell them something. They might feel hungry and get something to eat. A secularist might feel like they want to kill someone. The fact that she is acting on her feelings makes her dangerous… It has nothing to do with Christianity or Religion.

  8. 8
    Jason Thibeault

    Psst. The “Word of God” says God and Satan can talk to people. She started hearing voices because of her chemical imbalance. She thought it was Satan. Because the “Word of God”, the Bible, says it can happen. And she believed it. BECAUSE SHE IS CHRISTIAN.

    I don’t know why you’d think that being a secularist, meaning being pro-separation of church and state, is somehow responsible for this woman thinking Satan was talking to her. And I’d like you to prove what she thought about the separation of church and state. Also, I’d like you to prove that everyone who believes in the separation of church and state also disbelieves in God. You said yourself that some believe in God.

    Your arguments are just so fucking full of LOSE, that it’s not even funny.

  9. 9
    ZDENNY

    She violated the Word of God. The 10 commandments say that “Thou shalt not murder” She clearly violated that command.

    God does speak to people; however, There are no examples in Scripture where a murder of an innocent person was carried out at God’s instruction. Rather, just the opposite… God’s command is to love your neighbor…Love does no harm to ones neighbor…

    When you combine secularism belief that the Word of God cannot be known, you end up with actions like this woman who acts on her feelings.

    Separation of church in state is not in the Constitution; rather, the Constitution says that the “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    In other words, I don’t support a state church like they had in Europe at the time. I believe that an individual has the freedom to be authentic with both their speech and their religion no matter where they serve in the public which is what the Constitution supports. I believe in voluntary prayer in public places as well as religious expression in public places as a result of the Constitution.

    Secularism is not defined by the Constitution. It is a religious belief that says God cannot be known or that God does not exist.

  10. 10
    Jason Thibeault

    She absolutely did violate one of those commandments. However, she also violated two matters of public trust, as informed by the society of secular laws: she hurt her own child, whom she is entrusted to take care of; and she murdered another living, breathing, viable human being. Both of these take precedence over breaking a rule in a really old book that, while well intentioned, really only meant “thou shalt not murder people from your own tribe, but killing the people in the rival tribe across the river is fine”.

    Secularism is not defined by the Constitution. It is a religious belief that says God cannot be known or that God does not exist.

    Wrong. That’s agnostic atheism, like me. And if it is a religious belief, then it is also included under the umbrella of “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. So you’re saying that I’m more likely to think Satan’s talking to me, than a religious person who actually believes in Satan?

  11. 11
    Clifton

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/?p=1564

    That is all.

  12. 12
    Jason Thibeault

    I admit it Clifton, I LOL’d.

    Here’s another.

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOitIzUGJqk

  13. 13
    Clifton

    I can picture how the conversation with Otty went:

    God: Otty! How are you doing?
    Otty: I’m pretty sad. Who is this, anyway?
    God: Its me, Satan (stifling laughter)
    Otty: Satan? What do you want with me?
    God: Well Otty, I’ve noticed you’ve been having a tough time lately, and I thought I’d cheer you up.
    Otty: You can’t cheer me up. I’m miserable. I’m considering going goth.
    God: Nonsense. You know what would make you feel better?
    Otty: What?
    God: Eat your kid. He’s been ripe for 3 1/2 weeks now.
    Otty: Seriously?
    God: Yes. If you don’t eat him now, in about 18 years you’ll find he’s a full grown fruit.
    Otty: Well, OK, I guess
    God: Excellent. I’ll stop by tomorrow morning at 10:00, don’t start without me!

    And then God forgot to set the Alarm.

  14. 14
    Jason Thibeault

    Secularist get feelings all the time! A secularist might feel they need to call their girlfriend and tell them something. They might feel hungry and get something to eat. A secularist might feel like they want to kill someone. The fact that she is acting on her feelings makes her dangerous… It has nothing to do with Christianity or Religion.

    Society generally frowns upon killing random people on a whim, but society says nothing about whether or not it’s acceptable to go get something to eat or go call your girlfriend. I would think that the understanding that killing people is bad for society, which is what informs all people’s innate moral cores, would override any such sudden urge to kill (in most cases — sometimes the heat of passion can override that, and sometimes a chemical imbalance can compromise you). That said, if you believe your God wants you to kill, and tons and tons of killers believe so, then they believe it is justified to do something horrible. Ever hear of the Millgram Experiment? If an authority figure says it’s okay to do something otherwise considered immoral by society as a whole, and you accept that figure as an authority, then you’re more likely to do that immoral thing because you think the responsibility for giving the orders is out of your hands. This has little or nothing to do with what the person actually believes, and everything to do with the mode of thinking employed — if they believe there is an ultimate authority in charge of the universe, then hearing voices could seem like part of that ultimate authority’s divine plan. Yes, including the parts where you get punished for your crimes. (Or, say, crucified???)

    Now, kindly tell me the difference between the voice Abraham heard that told him to kill Isaac, and the voice Otty heard telling her to kill her son. If you say the difference is that God took back the command, that’s not the actual difference I’m thinking of. And if you say that Otty heard Satan, that’s not the difference either. Can you guess what difference I’m thinking of?

    Also, something a little birdie suggested I mention to you: you claim that all people are sinful by default. You also claim that Christians that break a commandment are not real Christians, because breaking a commandment is a sin. So to be Christian, you have to be without sin and follow the commandments perfectly. Except, all people are sinful, even you. So there are no Christians period.

    The only way out of that logical trap is to say you get a clean slate when you convert, because doing so absolves you of all sins. What’s to stop people from being immoral and even objectively evil their entire lives, then converting on their deathbeds? Would Stalin go to heaven if he converted on his deathbed, despite being a genocidal maniac? And I do mean a true, “finding God” moment, not just equivocating or playing Pascal’s Wager.

    Ultimately, I’m glad that you’re too moral to go out and kill people randomly. But it’s more than a little scary that the only reason you’re too moral for that is because you’re super-religious. If you ever lose your faith, you could very well become a crazed killer, because you derived your sense of morals from some imaginary deity, instead of from the very real obligation you have to humankind.

    You see, atheists and irreligious folks who are also good, have their sense of right and wrong instilled in them by something that will continue to exist whether you believe it or not: specifically, humankind, and your obligation to make sure that the most good is done for the most people in all situations. In that way humanism has a better moral grounding than any religion you could choose to name.

  15. 15
    ZDENNY

    Jason said, “Abraham heard that told him to kill Isaac, and the voice Otty heard telling her to kill her son. If you say the difference is that God took back the command, that’s not the actual difference I’m thinking of. And if you say that Otty heard Satan, that’s not the difference either. Can you guess what difference I’m thinking of?”

    The difference is the one boy is dead and the other is not. The fact that God was giving us an example of the sacrifice of Christ a 1000 year before Christ is something to be appreciated.

    In the example, please remember that Isaac was replaced with a lamb. Jesus is called, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World” which was an approved form of worship that pictured Christ all through the old testament!

    Since Soren Kierkegaard failed to understand the passage which has lead many non-theist to run wild is a incorrect reading of the text in context.

  16. 16
    Jason Thibeault

    That’s not the difference I’m thinking of. At all.

    The difference I’m thinking of is that, today, when someone hears voices, we know that it’s because they have a mental condition. In the Bronze Ages, when people heard voices, they thought they were talking to God. And some of them even built up religions.

    I suppose there are more modern examples of people who were crazy and got religions started that are still around today the way Jesus managed to do. Like Joseph Smith, or L. Ron Hubbard, or Claude Vorilhon.

    There are also failed religions by people who were obviously crazy but were too crazy to get mainstream acceptance, like David Koresh, or the dude or the guy who wrote timecube.com.

    Abraham probably existed, since three whole religions came out of his particular brand of crazy. But just because a person existed, and said crazy things, doesn’t mean those crazy things are necessarily right. They could just have been sick. Very mentally ill, long before anyone knew that mental illness comes from chemical problems in your brain.

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