After putting up my post about Muslims in Pakistan going batshit crazy over a Facebook page that celebrates Everybody Draw Muhammed Day!, I got to thinking about how religious believers would be considered certifiably insane (or at least seriously out of touch with reality) if society didn't look upon collective delusions more favorably than individual wacked-out'ness.
I mean, let's imagine that there aren't any religions on Earth.
So...no unproven metaphysical dogmas. No faith-based theologies. No imagined heavens/hells, astral planes, or soul-traveling destinations. No hypothesized divine beings with miraculous powers. No hidden system of godly rewards and punishments.
But people still have minds that can be in touch with reality to a greater or lesser extent. We still have mental hospitals, counselors, psychotherapists, and other means of assessing/treating those who appear to be way out there on the Got It Together horizon.
It just isn't possible for someone to use the "my religion made me believe it" excuse when some weird notion takes root in his or her psyche. I imagine a psychiatrist sitting in a room with a guy or gal, notebook in hand, listening to the patient say things like...
"If I draw a picture of this man who lived a long time ago in what is now Saudi Arabia, that's really, really wrong, and I should be punished for it."
"Someone was nailed to a cross. His blood washed away my bad qualities. I feel so much better knowing that he suffered a horrible death -- all for me!"
"I can't use electricity one day a week. Or eat meat along with a dairy product. Or use a dishwasher for plates that have touched both meat and dairy. I'd be a bad person if I did these things."
"Somebody invisible and super-powerful knows my thoughts. So not only do I have to do what he wants, but I also can't even think about going against his commands."
"Everything that is going to happen to me was planned out before I was born. I can't do anything about it now."
"What you see of me isn't really real. My body is an illusion, like yours is. What I really am can't be seen, even by me. My goal in life is to discard my fake physical form."
"Sex is bad. People are supposed to be celibate. When I have lustful thoughts, I know it is the bad part of me coming out."
Crazy or religious? Tough to tell in our actual world. But if religiosity didn't exist, the diagnosis would be easy to make.