Switching off religiosity

At Debunking Christianity, Frank relates how a stroke led to his loss of religiosity

My religion was my life, I was a man of God. I was anointed, Spirit filled, chosen and called for the work of the ministry. I loved the life. I loved the purpose it gave me. I had no desire to question it or ever leave it…Then one morning I had a stroke…[My] faith which [I] thought was unshakeable was not only shaken but eliminated entirely. As simply as flicking a light switch. The stroke cut me off from my religion, it severed the emotional and intellectual ties. I had a religious “Off” switch.

To me, this shows unequivocally that religiosity and spirituality are the products of cognitive processes, which can easily be disturbed when their neurobiological bases are damaged.

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One thought on “Switching off religiosity

  1. Theological truth is independent of what we can believe, perceive or understand. Just as, if one is suddenly struck physically blind, the scenery before us still exists, or though one’s mind is not sensitive to beauty, the “harmony, clarity, and radiance” of the setting sun over the ocean or a Chopin nocturne still obtain, the fact that one’s mind can no longer perceive or understand the concept of God or transcendence does not affect the objective existence of God. Holy people in all ages have experienced the “dark night of the soul” in which blind, heroic faith was the only thing available. The fact that a stroke triggered this loss of religious feeling shows that to be unable to believe (i.e., feel one’s belief) is a brain defect which in no way affects the reality of that which had been believed. Now, epilepsy seems to heighten religious perception, and perhaps it does make one more sensitive to that which cannot be seen, but of itself epileptic experience is no more proof of the existence of God than stroke-related unbelief is disproof. In the case of the man with the “religious off-switch,” he mistook his feelings for faith and when the feelings were gone, abandoned his beliefs and God, perhaps as a kind of tit-for-tat. I recommend a therapeutic reading of the book of Job and of the Passion narratives.

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