I’m autistic myself, and I find this puzzling. Autistic people are known to become obsessed with narrow, specific interests (as has happened to me when I was younger, although this autistic trait has diminished over the years), and I would expect religion to qualify here. I’ve known autistic people that could recite every saint from the 14th through the 16th centuries, or have memorized the speeches of specific popes.
In fact, I would argue that Jesus and Moses (if they existed) were autistic.
As far as Moses goes:
He seems to have had difficulty communicating, as he was "Slow of speech and tongue . . . " (Exodus 4:10).
He seems to have had dietary and stomach issues, which are much more common among autistic people. Dairy is especially problematic with autistic people, and there are a considerable number of dietary laws relating to dairy that were put in place by Moses, hence the Kosher dietary laws concerning milk products.
If he was autistic, he probably had a lot of sensory issues, as many fabrics are a big problem with autistic people because of the textures . . . and there are laws in Leviticus about mixing different types of threads when weaving fabrics.
He was very, very rigid about following rules, which is another autistic trait.
He seems to be socially incompetent, as is evidenced when he slew an Egyptian for beating a slave, and for going back to confront Rameses.
The burning bush may have been a manifestation of temporal lobe epilepsy, and epilepsy is much, much more common in autistic people. Certain forms of epilepsy are heritable, which is why I expect that certain tribes and/or families may have been considered divine, as epilepsy as also been considered divine. I suspect (but don’t know) that epilepsy may be behind the practice of some “holy rollers” whom are “possessed by the spirit” and fall to the ground while shaking and convulsing. I imagine that societal attitudes were similar in the Bronze Age.
The laws of Deuteronomy (although this book was probably not written by Moses, but rather much later after his death) relating to keeping a clean camp may have been partially inspired by Moses, as autistic people often have a very big problem with certain odors . . . and Moses required his military personnel to carry a shovel to cover their waste after a bowel movement (Deuteronomy 23:13).
In any case, do you guys have any thoughts on the reasons why autistic people are quicker to reject religion? Maybe because we are very literal and don’t handle metaphors too well? Or is it because we see things clearer than everyone else?
Please . . . what are your ideas?
Thank you in advance.
P.S. I know you guys like to fact-check (as I do), so I put some things below to add substance to my claims:
I’ve often wondered what makes anyone an atheist. I like this research that suggest atheist are smarter than average
Researcher Helmuth Nyborg and Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, compared belief in God and IQs. Using data from a U.S. study of 6,825 adolescents, the authors found that the average IQ of atheists was 6 points higher than the average IQ of non-atheists.
It’s my understanding that people with autism have a range of IQ levels so I guess that wouldn’t account for more atheists among the autistic. Maybe it has something to do with the logical way of thinking autistic people have? There is “nothing” logical about religion.
Sometime back I asked if anyone else here was left-handed as a higher than expected number of atheists are lefties. A higher than average number of people with autism are left-handed too. Are you a lefty? Having traits outside the norm seems a characteristic of atheists, though I have no idea what that means.
We dispute the assumption that individuals with ASD are inherently less religious and spiritual than the neurotypical population. Religiosity is possibly expressed differently in ASD with unique spiritual experiences and beliefs (“gifted, visionary, and truth-seeker”). In some circumstances, a religious background can be helpful for both children with ASD and their caregivers. These circumstances should not be neglected, and clinicians are encouraged to consider patients’ religious context, resources, and needs.
However, in contrast to the simplified view that religious and spiritual thoughts are minimal, mechanistic, or absent in “mind-blind autism”, comprehensive descriptions suggest that some individuals with autism experience a rich imaginary world with benevolent invisible minds (bodiless agents of gods, angels, and spirits). These individuals live with unusual sensory impressions that bring stability and emotional safety, even when the external world is fragmented, incoherent, and overwhelming [17,18]. Ingela Visuri concluded that the results “do not conform to popular expectations that autistic minds are less adapted to experience supernatural agents, and it is instead argued that imaginative, autistic individuals may embrace religious and fictive agents in a search for socially and emotionally comprehensible interaction” .
Whilst there is some research to support this, I wouldn’t get too excited. We have had plenty of atheists come here who were dumber than a bucket of hair.
While there are also theists who are very intelligent, and well educated, though their arguments for a deity are just as woeful, poorly reasoned and irrational. Paradoxically of course we have seen atheists on here who use the same absolute claims, and irrational arguments.
Who can forget programmingjordan (roughly his username I think) and his claim to have written a thesis for his PhD, that would rid humanity of theism, using his invention of non-beliefism (I kid you not). Basically dumbed down for middling intellects like mine, he explained “everyone should abandon all beliefs, as they are always subjective, and that we all use only knowledge as this was “proven” to succeed in getting to the truth”.
It was in vain to explain to him that beliefs can encompasse objective facts and of course be true, or that humans would likely be unable to function without forming beliefs about the world, he cursed me for a fool, and suggested I might actually be a theist, bless him. That was a fun few weeks, nothing on the news since though, and he swore his thesis would be published, and the world would change, alas t’was not so.
Yeah, well, I said I like the idea of atheists being smarter, not that I whole heartedly bought into it . It’s a personal bias . I’ve known plenty of smart theists and the only common thread I ever noticed was that they’d been indoctrinated since early childhood. Lots of atheists though had the same kind of upbringing. If only it could be figured out why it dawns on the atheist that it’s all bs while others embrace the bs and gleefully fling it about.
It may devolve into how people make decisions. Is a person more likely to trust their logic and reason or their emotional states (Brain States). IMO the religions of the world have usurped human emotional states with spirituality. Science is only now, in the past 20 years, started to seriously study brain states associated with spirituality, NDE, Lucid Dreaming and the rest. If you have not experienced these things directly, it may be difficult to understand how people can be influenced to believe. I can tell you, from personal experience, the subjective reality of these brain states are real. They feel every bit as real as does your waking experience. This is why you will hear me use the phrase, “Believing is seeing.” The brain is a really strange thing, and it can be convinced of anything under the right circumstances.
Soon I will go senile, I will not remember this. I will not be able to find my way home. I will not be able to find the keys on my keyboard. Then, someone will tell me of a magical man with magical powers. I will not have the cognitive skills to question the claims. And, once again, I fear, I will be a victim of religion.
Good point, I had meant to mention this in my previous post but got sidetracked. While emotions are important, so is objectivity and sound reasoning, and the former should never usurp the latter if one cares at all about the truth. The notion of faith then, that is strong belief in the doctrines of religions based on spiritual conviction rather than proof, is just such a notion, and is in my opinion not just useless in validating the truth of claims and beliefs, it can and often does positively encourage people to stop looking at the facts, and believe blindly and with a closed mind.
To paraphrase @rat_spit in a recent exchange, he admitted to holding irrational beliefs and making irrational claims, then asserted that he did not need to be rational, as his beliefs enabled him to transcend logic. Of course this assertion is not new from theists and religious apologists. How many of them have asserted that “god does not need to adhere to logic” as if they were saying something deeply profound, rather than admitting they were content to hold irrational beliefs and make irrational assertions and arguments, but wanted to try and ringfence them from critical scrutiny and rationality, which would otherwise expose them as erroneous or at least very weak and poorly reasoned arguments and beliefs.
I’m sorry that you feel that this may happen to you, but they are coming up with breakthroughs all the time for Alzheimer’s. Don’t lose hope.
You may buy yourself extra time before senility sets in if you exercise, take up a vegetarian diet, give up alcohol, get sleep and sleep apnea issues addressed, and take classes (in whatever subject) to challenge your mind.
If you implement these ideas, you may buy yourself an extra 7 to 15 years before this happens . . . and this means better odds that some effective treatments for dementia will come up in the meantime.
I have very little faith that a breakthrough cure for Alzheimer would be here within, say, 10 years. Yes, we might get medications that can slow the development and/or delay the onset of the symptoms. But a cure? Colour me skeptical. That said, I’ve witnessed up close the slow development of Alzheimer over the course of approximately a decade, from the beginning with decreased short term memory to a state of almost no cognitive abilities, so I would certainly welcome a cure.
It runs in my family. I’ve been “screened” for it a few times. Last time the Dr. asked me to count backwards from a 100 in steps of 7. Of course I passed with flying colors, but I wonder how good a test that was, heh.
@Kevin_Levites here is something you may wanna watch. When it comes to significant religious figures apparently condition is named psycho-like, not autistic and it may have had a significant role in our social evolutionary development. Not Moses or Jesus, they most likely didn’t exist, certainly not as described. More like all the way from shamans.
My opinion is that autistic people have more chance of being skeptic and atheist, exactly because of the nature of the condition. I think that it doesn’t feel like guided experience, and argument about free choice may not work well