The Difference Between Religion and Delusion
First, a big thank you to phhht on the Panda’s Thumb Bathroom Wall for this… and confusion or mistakes are purely my own.
Let’s play a game of pretend. Let’s say that we know a woman. She has no prior history of mental illness and she has no family history of mental illness. She hasn’t been injured recently and lives a comfortable life. Except for one thing. She firmly believes she has two children.
This isn’t a case of “I wish I had”. She ‘sees’ them. They exist, but only for her. You can be having a conversation with her and she’ll suddenly turn and fuss at one of them for hitting the other. Then she’ll have a quiet talk in the corner with the one who was hit. She buys them clothes and toys. She takes them to school every morning.
In her mind, there is no doubt that these children exist.
How can you make her see that they don’t actually exist?
You can’t tell her they were never born. She can describe the birth pains, the C-section for the second one, the morning sickness. She describes it the exact same way every time, even years between questions.
You can’t tell her there’s no birth certificates. She can produce the papers. You can tell her that they are really advertisements for cable TV, but to her they are birth certificates and social security cards.
You can’t tell her they don’t really exist. She can see them.
Indeed, she thinks you’re a little nuts because you can’t see the really cute outfit that one of them is wearing and you don’t get excited when she tells you about their first tooth or a goal in a soccer game.
This woman isn’t dangerous. She has a good job and is a model employee. Most people just play along with her. There’s no harm in it. The teenager across the street loves it because she gets paid $20 an hour to sit in an empty house. The school district people think she’s crazy, but she’s not dangerous. She has no record. She even volunteers for the PTA and helps out in the classrooms (just don’t put her in her kids’ classes).
Other than this one persistent delusion, she’s as normal as anyone else in the world.
I don’t think that there’s anyone reading this who would think that those children actually exist. They are purely products of this woman’s mind.
Someone, I don’t care who, explain to me the difference between this woman’s children and god.