Atheism: A Form of Insanity?





Novelist Tom Knox, who writes under the pen name of Sean Thomas for some of his work, certainly knows how to ignite a firestorm.  In The Telegraph he argues that atheism is a form of insanity.


In the last few years scientists have revealed that believers, compared to non-believers, have better outcomes from breast cancer, coronary disease, mental illness, Aids, and rheumatoid arthritis. Believers even get better results from IVF. Likewise, believers also report greater levels of happiness, are less likely to commit suicide, and cope with stressful events much better. Believers also have more kids.

What’s more, these benefits are visible even if you adjust for the fact that believers are less likely to smoke, drink or take drugs. And let’s not forget that religious people are nicer. They certainly give more money to charity than atheists, who are, according to the very latest survey, the meanest of all.

So which is the smart party, here? Is it the atheists, who live short, selfish, stunted little lives – often childless – before they approach hopeless death in despair, and their worthless corpses are chucked in a trench (or, if they are wrong, they go to Hell)? Or is it the believers, who live longer, happier, healthier, more generous lives, and who have more kids, and who go to their quietus with ritual dignity, expecting to be greeted by a smiling and benevolent God?

Obviously, it’s the believers who are smarter. Anyone who thinks otherwise is mentally ill.

And I mean that literally: the evidence today implies that atheism is a form of mental illness. And this is because science is showing that the human mind is hard-wired for faith: we have, as a species, evolved to believe, which is one crucial reason why believers are happier – religious people have all their faculties intact, they are fully functioning humans.

Therefore, being an atheist – lacking the vital faculty of faith – should be seen as an affliction, and a tragic deficiency: something akin to blindness. Which makes Richard Dawkins the intellectual equivalent of an amputee, furiously waving his stumps in the air, boasting that he has no hands.

Go here to read the rest.  Assuming this is not a parody of the constant, and unintentionally hilarious, atheist proclamations that they are so much smarter than anyone else, Knox hits upon an important point.  Not that atheism is insanity, atheists are no more insane than people who are devoted to socialism in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.  They are wrong and pigheaded, which is certainly annoying but not a manifestation of insanity.  No, the important point is that humans are hard wired to worship.  If they do not worship the true God they will worship false gods.  Today we have an ever growing pantheon of new false gods:  Feminism, Hedonism, Gay Lifestyle, Political Correctness, and all the other objects that human beings seize upon in a vain effort to stuff and fill the God-sized hole in their souls.  Substitute religions give temporary satisfaction, but ultimately leave their worshipers feeling empty and longing.  The arc of Communism in the last century is a prime example of the failure of a substitute religion.  Richard Crossman’s collection of essays in 1949 by disillusioned Communists was presciently entitled The God That FailedAtheism of course is also a substitute religion, at least as manifested by most atheist websites and the New Atheists, rapidly becoming the old bore atheists.  It is evangelical, has its dogmas and attacks competing faiths.  As Mr. Knox illustrates, it does tend to be as unsatisfying a God substitute as all the other attempts of humans to channel the impulse to worship down dead end paths.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Peter Kreeft on the idea that faith and reason being opposite is a wrong minded stance. The five minutes in the video above are valuable for short attention spans pondering the idea and yearning for a way to verbalize it.

    The example of the contrast between Sir Isaac Newton (Father of Physics and a fervent believer in God) and Leonard Susskind (Professor of theoretical physics at Stanford who says, “Real scientists resist the temptation to explain creation by divine intervention. We resist, to the death, all explanations of the world bases on anything but the laws of physics.”) is telling about the degeneration of worthwhile developments in recent history. Worthwhile has become tied to monetary value. Also, the latter’s attitude toward the Father of his discipline is akin to how it goes for trashing the Fourth of the Commandments. Honor thy father and mother that it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long on the earth. Sir Isaac Newton begins every introduction into physics. Will Susskind have a place?

    “Who are the closed minded ones in the debate?
    The conclusion that God exists doesn’t require faith.
    Atheism requires faith. It takes faith to believe in everything coming from nothing.
    It takes only reason to believe in everything coming from God.” – Peter Kreeft

  2. While it’s not a form of insanity, I would submit that atheism is certainly irrational. If you look at the design of the human body all the way down to the biochemical nuts and bolts, it’s an amazing machine that certainly demonstrates a design. To observe our biology and claim that there is no God is akin to finding a Boeing 747 on Pluto and claiming it just arose from chance without the involvement of intelligence. To say that we arose from random processes is the same as saying that if you shake up a box of computer components long enough that you’ll end up with a functioning supercomputer. Atheism engages in magical, superstitious thinking in its cosmology.

    Atheists claim to believe in science. Yet there is no evidence of functioning proteins, the building blocks of life, being formed in nature outside of an already living cell. The smallest forms of life, if you consider them alive, are viruses and prions, yet they also require a living cell (lacking their own cellular structures) to reproduce. No functional protein or DNA has ever been observed, even indirectly, to be replicated outside of a living cell. Yet the atheists demand a leap of faith that it happened. Likewise for other various cellular structures upon which life depends. That’s not scientific, and it’s not rational.

    I’m convinced that they engage in atheistic sophistry for psychological reasons. It allows them to escape the sort of introspection that belief in God makes necessary.

  3. I wouldn’t say that atheists are insane. I’d say that a sense of the divine is a normal human function, and those who don’t have it are missing something. Me, I have a terrible spatial sense. You wouldn’t want me designing your house. I enjoy calculus and algebra but I’m terrible at geometry. Most of us have a defect (absence) or two – be it color-blindness, impatience, inability to tell a joke, whatever.

    The big thing is, you don’t need a sense of the divine to be a theist or a Catholic. When the saints talk about the dark night of the soul, I think this is what they’re talking about. A sudden loss of their most relied-upon function. As traumatic as Beethoven’s loss of hearing. But you soldier on.

    The article’s right that a person without hands shouldn’t look down on people who have them. Somewhere along the way a lack of awareness of the divine got spinned into a virtue, at least in some circles.

  4. Chesterton spoke to the deficiency in people’s thinking who reject matters of faith. I don’t know how one could appreciate the realm of liberal arts and remain atheist.

  5. What if the atheist, the hedonist, the pagan, or whatever, in worshipping a false god (e.g., one’s self, sexual pleasure, stone idols, etc.) really is insane? What if the only truly sane response, once the truth is known, is worship of the Lord Jesus Christ? Certainly that isn’t a medical description, but who is really in his right mind? The God-denier who worships himself, the hedonist who worships the titillation of his genitals, the pagan who worships stone idols, or the Catholic at Eucharistic Adoration? While not all insanity is rooted in atheism, hedonism or paganism, maybe those conditions or behaviors or whatever lead to insanity for denying the truth simply isn’t a sane response.

    PS, I am not too sane myself, but for reasons other than these. 😉

  6. Therefore, being an atheist – lacking the vital faculty of faith – should be seen as an affliction, and a tragic deficiency: something akin to blindness. Which makes Richard Dawkins the intellectual equivalent of an amputee, furiously waving his stumps in the air, boasting that he has no hands.
    –Tom Knox (quoted by Donald R. McClarey)

    So, will this angry anonymous letter writer demand “euthanize him!!!” upon encountering an atheist?

    The arc of Communism in the last century…
    –Donald R. McClarey

    …was a long, difficult trek from capitalism all the way to capitalism.

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