BBC 2 aired a documentary on the 17th of April 2003 in which a totally unfounded and prejudiced claim was made. It said that faith was a so-called illness and leaders of religion in history were people who should have been treated as patients. In this article, we will explain why this claim is invalid and why it is the product of a warped mind.
The “GOD ON THE BRAIN” documentary by the BBC 2 made the adverse claim that faith was an illness and suggested that this claim was supported by medical research. According to a research on epileptic patients, during seizures, they experienced spiritual feelings. The electric activity in the temporal lobe causing seizures, when artificially induced, could evoke the same kind of mystic feelings in healthy individuals. Going by this, it was claimed, that the temporal lobe epilepsy was where the terms of faith and religion were born.
This and other similar research are benefiting the better understanding and treatment of epilepsy, but it is a great error to link brain pathology and faith and religion.
Mysticism: Escape Into The World Of Imagination
First of all the warped perspective dominating the program needs to be looked at. “Mysticism” and “religion” are not parts of one another. Religion is a God given way of life explained to people by His messengers. After people see in themselves and their environment the evidence for God’s existence, they determine by using their intellect and conscience the truth of this “call”. The truest way of life on earth is the religious morality prescribed by God. Beginning to live according to the morality of religion, makes rational analysis essential.
Mysticism on the other hand, contrary to religion, is the search for metaphysical experiences in an imaginary world which cannot be reached by reasoning or logic. The word mysticism is derived from the root “myein,” meaning to “shut ones eyes.” In meditation or the state of trance, one seeks to evoke a mystical environment by leaving the world of reason and logic behind. Schools of mysticism put aside reason whilst emphasizing emotions.
For these reasons it is wrong to create links between “mysticism” and the true religion or the existence of God. True religion requires the comprehension of God’s existence with rational evidence.
Current research suggests, that religion is a fundamental necessity for mental health, contrary to the atheist’s view that it is a mental illness. This “mental illness” perspective is the brainchild of the 19th century atheist thinker Freud, but since then he has been comprehensively refuted. The American author Patrick Glynn sums it up:
Yet the last quarter of the twentieth century has not been kind to the psychoanalytic vision. Most significant has been the exposure of Freud’s views of religion (not to mention a host of other matters) as entirely fallacious. Ironically enough, scientific research in psychology over the past twenty-five years has demonstrated that, far from being a neurosis or source of neuroses as Freud and his disciples claimed, religious belief is one of the most consistent correlates of overall mental health and happiness. Study after study has shown a powerful relationship between religious belief and practice, on the other hand, and healthy behaviors with regard to such problems as suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, depression, even, perhaps surprisingly, levels of sexual satisfaction in marriage, on the other. In short, the empirical data run exactly contrary to the supposedly “scientific” consensus of the psychotherapeutic profession. (1)
In the end, using one of Patrick Glynn’s expressions, “far from replacing religion, modern psychology at the close of the twentieth century seems to be reacquainting itself with religion” and “a purely secular view of human mental life has been shown to fail not just at the theoretical, but also at the practical, level.”
Despite these realities, the BBC 2 pushed an inherited old claim by Freud, dressed up with some so-called new discoveries, albeit, as we said above, without supporting it with any scientific or rational evidence. This proves that the BBC 2’s starting point is its atheist prejudices, just like it was with Freud himself.
Champions Of Civilization: The Prophets
The program, by claiming that the pathological irregularities in the temporal lobe cause mystic experiences thought to be the source of religion, suggested wrongfully that the prophets in history were people with such problems. This expression shows that the claim is pure speculation.
There is much evidence to disprove this perverse suggestion. The prophets were the most intelligent people of their era and transported their followers to the top of civilization. They were the most successful commanders, community leaders and thinkers of their time, led their people and became thus role models for the subsequent generations. Despite this truth being handed down from generation to generation, for the program to claim them to be “sick” is nothing but a repulsive act of slander.
The anti-religious prejudices of those people caused them to misinterpret the results of the experiment. For a person who finds the truth, confirmed by his reason and conscience, in the true religions proclaimed by the prophets, there can be nothing more rational than to begin to live as prescribed by God after acknowledging this truth. To define this rational approach as an illness is illogical.
In reality, accusing the prophets of “mental illness” is not a new development. It is a slander used by the deniers throughout history to prevent the prophets’ struggle on the righteous path. The Qur’an reveals that similar claims were made against many prophets. The same was done to Muhammad (may God bless Him and grant Him peace) and God revealed to him:
""Nun By the Pen and what they write down! By the blessing of your Lord, you are not mad. You will have a wage which never-fails. Indeed you are truly vast in character. So you will see and they will see which of you is mad."" (Qur’an, 68: 1-6)
(1) Patrick Glynn, God: The Evidence, The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World, Prima Publishing, California, 1997, pp. 60-61
(2) Ibid., 69
(3) Ibid., 78