Thanks, Moe

Sometimes I hope I’m wrong.  One of those times was when I decided to be open about my mental illness.  I had hoped that there would not be Christians who would view my condition as an opportunity to snipe at me, as I thought they would, but would find common ground in that we can empathize with the suffering of other human beings.

Repeatedly though, I am disappointed.  This one comes from Moe.

Given some of your comments about Christians, I am seriously starting to wonder if some of your rants are influenced by your mental illness.

Nothing personal, but there is precedent for it.

Nietzsche comes to mind.

Christianity either encourages this kind of callous stupidity or it is useless in making already dense people better.  Either way, people like Moe undermine Christianity’s claim to the moral high ground every day. 

It’s very confusing to Moe, my issues with Christianity.  It cannot be that there is no supporting evidence for it, as I have said repeatedly.  It cannot be that it requires myself and others to sublimate our checks against being gullible to a point we can believe someone rose from the dead.  It’s not the claims of some guy 2,000 years ago suspending the laws of nature to walk on water with absolutely no corroborating evidence.  It cannot be that believing absurd things brings harm to the world we share, as I have said repeatedly.

No, for Moe all that stuff resonates with all the normalcy of a sunny day.  To his eye, someone must be crazy to “rant” about how someone being born from a virgin doesn’t happen.  My motives must be insincere.  To find claims of talking snakes ridiculous, there must be something wrong with my brain.  If I think the rules of the universe are inviolate, it must be on account of my insanity.  To Moe, the problem is not with the myths of a time when “magic” was a suitable explanation for things being believed in an age of science, the problem is with me.

Yes, someone who believes in the contents of a book bursting at the seams with medieval stupidity has found the temerity to say that because my sanity has failed me with food, it must be failing me on the question of people rising from the dead.  “Nothing personal” my ass.  The difference, Moe, is that I’m aware of where my brain is malfunctioning.  I know when I’m delusional and try to work around it.  What worries me is all the people in the world believing ancient nonsense who don’t.

And as for Nietzsche, he is not quoted because he was a paragon of mental health.  We atheists elevate ideas, not people.  He is quoted because crazy or not (and the answer is “not” for most of his life), the things he said often made quite a bit of sense.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Ing: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream So I Comment Instead

    If it wasn’t mental illness it would be because you were crippled, or handicapped, or abused, or poly, or gay, etc etc etc.

    Note that these people never appreciate suggesting that either they themselves might be delusional and not know, or that they only believe because they never bothered to question what their parents taught them.

    • Clarissa

      How do you know “Moe” is a Christian?

      It could just as well be a disinformation post.

  • TCC

    Having a mental illness didn’t stop Nietzsche (and lots of other people) from making more sense than Moe does. You’d think that would give him pause, at least.

    Also, I know a lot more Christians with mental illness than I do nonbelievers with mental illness. (Of course, I also know more Christians in general, but I figured we weren’t working with facts here.)

  • Supermental

    Great response.

  • Hein

    I think it’s a defence mechanism. He finds his faith shaken but is so invested in maintaining his beliefs that he is compelled to find some means (any means) to dismiss your arguments. He needs to reassure himself that it’s OK to keep believing in all the superstitious nonsense and since he has no good arguments, he resorts to using your mental illness as justification for dismissing yours. It serves exactly the same purpose as saying “You’re just angry with God.”

  • anne mariehovgaard

    Well, strictly speaking it is possible for a woman to become pregnant while technically a virgin – through artificial insemination or (more relevant for a case 2000 years ago) – if she is really unlucky – by some guy coming on her, not in her.

    • Hein

      I once read an excellent short story – I can’t remember who the author was – about a woman in a South African township who gets pregnant in this way (she and her boyfriend have “pretend sex” with his penis between her thighs) at the age of 16 and about her bizarre relationship with her son. Thanks to her religious upbringing she keeps drawing parallels between her situation and the story of Jesus. Because of this (and the fact that technically he was the one who “took her virginity”) she is unable to control or discipline him, which of course leads to endless misery for both of them.

  • rikitiki

    Yeah…and in times past, these are the folks who would see mental illness (or even epilepsy) as demonic possession, evil spirits, witchcraft, etc, and imprison, torture (for their own good, of course), and eventually kill the afflicted. Rarely did the religious try to actually help them in any effective fashion.
    So, basically, Moe here is following a long-established tradition.

  • Drakk

    Sorry, JT, but do you suffer from any mental illness besides anorexia?

    Because I really don’t understand how that has any possible effect on what you write about religion.

  • Sid

    I hope Moe doesn’t take it personally that I think he should go fuck himself.

  • Egaeus

    I came to say what Sid said, but that’s probably because I’m MENTALLY ILL!!!! See? I used more than 3 terminal punctuation marks! That proves it!

    Watch out Moe, my ADHD and major depression might just be catching! If I were being intellectually honest, I’d admit that mental illness typically isn’t contagious, and that my depression is a side-effect of the Ritalin anyway, but since Moe’s not making sense, then why not join the non-sequitur fun!

  • GMacs


    It may cheer you up that my Lutheran girlfriend has never once tried to attribute my dysthymia or ADHD to my atheism or vice versa.

  • Rory

    There will always be assholes like Moe who use anything they can to tear down other people. Don’t let it get you down, JT. Your willingness to be open about your situation means a lot to a lot of people, and hopefully that counts for more than sniping from idiots.

  • alisonmeyer

    What always makes me shake my head over these types of accusations is that the people who make them seem to have spent so much time studying philosophies about which I, personally, know nothing about. (Actually, I don’t care much about philosophy in general – it’s thinking about thinking, and I don’t see the point.)

    They take all this knowledge, and assume that we’ve done the same in order to form our worldview. It comes down to projection. But projection is really, really easy without doing all that research – so maybe the obsessive need for hyper-informed projection indicates, oh, I don’t know, some sort of mental illness?

  • John Horstman

    I think he’s jealous; mental illness is hip (so I’ve been told by someone who thought I was posturing when I said I suffered from type 2 bipolar disorder; that person was shocked to find I’d been telling the truth the first time since meeting me that I exhibited symptoms). :-)

    Actually, I DO think people suffering from mental illnesses tend to be more interesting than those who do not on average (I tend to have the same “That’s awesome!” reaction JT described in his Skepticon talk) because they (we) offer perspectives that differ from the normative, which can be really important for challenging presuppositions or essentialized notions. Not to say that completely sane people can’t be interesting (if any actually exist – the DSM covers a LOT of territory) or insane people can’t be boring (the neighborhood coffee shop’s resident schizophrenic becomes progressively less interesting after one hears him explain the same paranoid delusions with the same rapid-fire delivery a few times because everything comes back to them after a few sentences, regardless of one’s attempts to engage him on other topics), but on the whole, I find mental illness of all varieties thoroughly fascinating.

  • leni

    Remember when Stephen Hawking came out and said that science basically made God an unnecessary hypothesis? I read a Yahoo article about and noticed there was something like 2000 comments and foolishly decided to read them.

    It was the most horrifying barrage of nastiness I’ve ever encountered, and most of was regarding his illness. I’m not exaggerating, either. The people who were calling him “retarded” were probably the nicest ones. (Apparently they don’t know that he does differential calculus in his head because of his inability to write.)

    So, JT, at least you are in good company. Plus hey, Nietzsche!