John Cameron
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  • Contoocook, NH
  • United States
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John Cameron's Discussions

Atheist responsibility

Started this discussion. Last reply by Michael Black Dec 6, 2010. 9 Replies

Does anyone else think that reality based rational thinkers have a moral responsibility to help those afflicted with delusional religious thinking?  The most clear cut example for me is the child…Continue

Another closet door opening.

Started this discussion. Last reply by Linda Nov 29, 2010. 1 Reply

Hello all,I have been a lifelong athiest fortunate enough to have atheist parents.  I sincerely feel that my life has been all the richer and my mental health protected because of this.  I, however,…Continue

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Latest Activity

John Cameron replied to Gary C.'s discussion What is the best response to "Jesus loves you"?
""I'm glad thinking so makes you feel good"  or... if wanting to offend: "I know....  My ass still hurts.""
Jan 26, 2011
John Cameron replied to Park Bierbower's discussion FREE WILL
"I think the answer is yet to be determined.  We are just begining to peer into the physical basis for thoughts and memories.  Any opinion on the origin of agency in our conciousness must necessarily be mostly conjecture.  That said,…"
Jan 26, 2011
John Cameron replied to Park Bierbower's discussion How Can We Atheists Do Our Job Better?
"Very cool. "
Jan 21, 2011
John Cameron replied to Park Bierbower's discussion How Can We Atheists Do Our Job Better?
"I couldn't agree more.  The mental disorder is delusion.  I believe it arises to resolve the cognitive dissonance that results from someone being told by everyone they know and love a thing which is patently and obviously untrue.…"
Jan 21, 2011
Michael Black replied to John Cameron's discussion Atheist responsibility
"I emphatically agree with Loren Miller on this one! I would like to add that "moral responsibility" is one of those catch phrases that is used to guilt someone into acting against their own interest."
Dec 6, 2010
Loren Miller replied to John Cameron's discussion Atheist responsibility
"I would be careful with the whole "moral responsibility" thing. For openers, that's the crap we get from the door-to-door god peddlers, and I have NO desire to be associated with that brand of behavior in any way, shape or form. If…"
Dec 6, 2010
John Cameron replied to John Cameron's discussion Atheist responsibility
"I like this line of thinking. For myself, I just don't know if a passive approach of leading by example and waiting for opportunities is enough. The level of credulous belief in nonsense is so staggering to me that I want to address it in a…"
Dec 6, 2010
Peter White replied to John Cameron's discussion Atheist responsibility
"I think it is absolutely our responsibility to help others avoid delusional thinking. I find myself getting involved any time I hear someone express some nonsensical belief. I feel it is my moral duty to try to prevent the harm that comes from…"
Dec 4, 2010
John Cameron added a discussion to the group Psychology

Treating delusion

Are there any phsychiatric techniques for treating delusional disorder that might be applicable in speaking with religious people to motivate them to critically examine their beliefs? See More
Dec 3, 2010
John Cameron joined Skylar's group


This is a group for psychologists and those interested in psychology, mental processes, intelligence, behavior, cognition, emotion, perception, relationships, personality or consciousness.
Dec 3, 2010
John Cameron replied to Sol Gartner's discussion Is there a figurative 'critical period' for rational thought? in the group ORIGINS: UNIVERSE, LIFE, HUMANKIND, AND DARWIN
"Thanks, I will definitely check out the book."
Dec 3, 2010
John Cameron replied to Jacob's discussion Parents force me to go to church, read Christian "literature". What should I do?
"I think you should definitely not worry about letting your fellow athiests down. Anyone with any sense would be proud of what you have done. I think you should feel free to discuss your beliefs and how you came to them with your siblings by way of…"
Dec 2, 2010
John Cameron replied to Sol Gartner's discussion Is there a figurative 'critical period' for rational thought? in the group ORIGINS: UNIVERSE, LIFE, HUMANKIND, AND DARWIN
"Ryan, I like a good book and you deliver. I agree totally with the compartmentalization of thought and I have used the term "religious mind" to illustrate this idea. i.e. when speaking to a religious person about their faith I have given…"
Dec 2, 2010
John Cameron replied to John Cameron's discussion Atheist responsibility
"Seeing nothing wrong with an action is not the same as seeing a moral responsibilty to undertake the action. Do you feel it would be immoral not to teach a child that more than one viewpoint exists? I certainly do. I also feel that it would be moral…"
Dec 2, 2010
Jennifer Nicole replied to John Cameron's discussion Atheist responsibility
"I see nothing wrong with teaching a child or anyone else that more than one viewpoint exists. But that is not the same as attempting to "cure" them."
Dec 2, 2010
John Cameron replied to Marc Draco's discussion Christopher Hitchens beats Tony Blair to a pulp (in polite debate) in the group ORIGINS: UNIVERSE, LIFE, HUMANKIND, AND DARWIN
"I had to stop watching this at about the midway point because I got so tired of the apologetics of Blair. He must have said "at least you have to give religion blah blah blah" about 10 times from what I watched. His amorphous definition of…"
Dec 2, 2010
For some time now, I have been watching the atheists arguments against religion with a rather fatalistic perspective. I have accepted that those who adhere to a religious doctrine have a part of their mind, what has been called the "religious mind", walled off from reason. There are many theists who in every other way appear to be rational, intelligent, and sensitive people. I have believed that this is an irreversible state against which it is futile to try to change. This opinion is mostly based on the pernicious and repetitive pattern seen in atheist/theist arguments. The pattern is basically:

1. There is a religious claim with no basis in fact or reality.
2. Atheists thoroughly discredit the claim with logical arguments.
3. Religious adherents deny reality and rely on conviction in an unfalsifiable claim. They generally fall back on some version of "I know it in my heart."
4. Atheists throw up hands in frustration, walk away, vent anger, and/or resort to name calling, i.e. religiotard, etc.
5. Theists turn away angry both angry at having their cherished beliefs questioned and with the impression that atheists are mean spirited and unfriendly.

I also have heard the argument, sometimes from an evolutionary perspective, that "humans are just built to believe" and that "people need answers to the question of the meaning of life". I have accepted these arguments and shrugged my shoulders, in effect saying that there is nothing for it. However, never in my life have I personally felt the need to "believe" or felt that a made up answer to the meaning of life was any satifactory answer at all. But I and those like me are probably not "built" differently in this regard. There is not likely to be a "religious" gene which predisposes someone to be more likely to believe in theistic ideas than others. So what is it that makes me have a lack of belief and a theist cling for dear life to theirs?

I began to wonder if there might be some more effective way to reach these people and convince them of the truth that seems so clearly obvious to a rational thinker. I really began to think about what was going on in the minds of the theists. I realized more and more surely that, just as Richard Dawkins accurately put it, these people were suffering from delusion.

This seems a trivial statement, but, realize that this is a very specific medical term which has some very significant implications. The most widely accepted psychological medical manual, the DSM IV (diagnostic and statistical manual) defines delusions as false beliefs based on incorrect inference about external reality that persist despite the evidence to the contrary and these beliefs are not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture. I would propose that the last part of the definition should not be included. What does it matter what the person's culture or subculture ordinarily accept? Were the people in the subculture of Charles Manson not delusional? We're the Germans of the 1940's not delusional? Culturally accepted delusional beliefs should not be excluded just because a great many people are deluded. I propose a subtype of delusional disorder which I would denote as "culturally supported" and which would carry specific implications for treatment.

It is a fact that delusional thought is notoriously hard to treat with reasoned counterargument. The underlying pshycological state that perpetuates and supports the delusion is the target of successful treatment. For religions, the basis for delusional thought can be complex and varied among individuals. However, the crux of the matter (pun intended), is that the delusion is most commonly introduced before the age of reason by trusted adults. The delusion is blindly accepted as truth and held as a cherished and valuable belief by the individual for which she is rewarded with acceptance and praise. Once the person is capable of complex reasoning, the delusion is entrenched and the psycological cost of rejecting the delusion is percieved, perhaps unconsciously, to be greater than the cost of the cognitive dissonance required to maintain the delusion in the face of reasoned argument.

How we best go about targeting this psychological state in an effective way to bring about a resolution to the dissonance that most religious people suffer under will be the subject of my attention in the time to come. I look forward to the comments and insight of people on this site that will hopefully help to free more and more of humanity from these dark age superstitions that seem so ineradicable.

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At 11:44pm on December 18, 2010, Susan Benfold said…

Hi John.  Glad that you joined us. 

At 4:00pm on December 1, 2010, Dr. Terence Meaden said…
Hello John. Welcome to the site of the rational people of the world.
You have made a very fine introductory statement showing that you will be a useful contributor to the discussions.
Among the many groups you might be interested in there is
"ORIGINS: Universe, Life, Earth, Humankind, Fossils, Religion, Evolution, Darwin..." with its 2100 members and 350 discussion topics.

We invite you to come and join, and to make good new friends.

At 12:28am on November 30, 2010, Atheist Princess said…
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