At first, this disturbing article seemed like a good entry point to talk about the ways that religious belief can inspire people to believe things that are not 100% correlated with reality. Since religions basically instruct people to believe things that are not supported by evidence, it does often have the effect, and I do think that is troubling. However, as I thought more about this
Dena Schlosser saw a TV news story about a boy being mauled by a lion and thought it was a sign of the apocalypse, a delusion that led her to sever the arms of her baby, David Self said.
It occurred to me that things like this would probably happen no matter what the religio-cultural atmosphere. One could make an argument that in an atheistic, rational society, where crazy ideas like this were confronted and erased, it might be less likely to occur. In our society the statement, “God speaks to me,” would not be evaluated as dangerously insane, despite the fact that, on the face of it, it is crazy. Insanity, however, has been with us for a longer time than any of our current religions, so in this case I’ll just mourn the tragedy and hope that the mother can find some peace.