Martin Luther King, Jr., Was Mentally Ill?

A foolish consistencey is the hobgoblin of little minds.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Atheism Sucks (a blog which I wish would change its name since I think it can distract from the content) has published an interesting piece on an e-mail exchange with Brian Sapient of the Rational Responders which seemed of interest to people on this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. According to the piece:

According to the atheist group Rational Response Squad, yes! Leader Brian Sapient says that Christians ought to be committed to mental hospitals and even suggested that his own mother be put in one. I asked him through e-mail correspodence if he would agree that Martin Luther King, Jr. suffered from mental disorder. Brian Sapient answered "Yes"!

* * *

Aside from that, RRS member, Chris Benard, admitted,

Remember, the paranoid schizophrenic thinks it's perfectly "logical" and "rational" to speak to themselves and have MPD. Christianity does a lot more harm than paranoid schizophrenia (see history and laws).
Well, you ought to hand it to the guys, they stick to their guns. Even though it's insane.

Yes, they are being consistent, aren't they?

Personally, I don't care what Brian Sapient or any of his cohorts at Rational Responders say. They have proven on more than one occasion to favor rhetoric over dialogue. However, I think that this post is representative of a position that seems to be becoming standard fare for the atheist-clones of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Bill Mahrer and the like, i.e., to make the absurd claim that Christians are not only wrong but mentally ill.

As I have pointed out in the past, there is no basis for such absurdity. It is pure rhetoric that is being foisted on the public apparently under the theory that if you throw enough crap at the wall, some of it will stick. It is very much the same principle on which commercials operate -- the more frequency that a person hears a commerical the more likely that person will come to accept the commercial's claims. Repetition is what makes commercials work. Yet they seem to be willing to not only make this claim but stick with it despite its patent absurdity. Basically, they are saying that every person who has ever been a Christian is mentally ill. Now, that may have some appeal when you are referencing people in generalities, but when you start identifying the people who they are saying are mentally ill, the foolishness of the view becomes more and more apparent.

The e-mail in the original post identifies Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as being mentally ill. The claim that Dr. King, Jr. was mentally ill (heading into MLK Day) is quite astounding. But, of course, they shouldn't stop there if they are going to be consistent. Everyone who was a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu or any of the hundreds of pagan religions that believe in a god were all mentally ill, according to this view. So, in addition to Dr. King, on the cultural reformer front the list of mentally ill people would include Mahatama Gandhi, William Wilberforce, Frederick Douglas, Mother Teresa, Jesse Jackson, and hundreds of other cultural reformers who have helped to improve society through the ages. (And let's be clear here -- it is a mistake to confuse disagreement with someone's position with mental illness. I don't agree with Jesse Jackson, but I don't think he's mentally ill because I disagree with him. Yet, that's what the followers of this New Atheism want you to believe.)

You don't think it's bad to name these particular people as mentally ill? Well, let's consider some of the names of scientists who need to be included on the list of mentally ill people in history (adapted from 100 Scientists Who Changed the World):

Isaac Newton; the Newtonian Revolution; Anglican
Albert Einstein; Theory of Relativity; Jewish
Neils Bohr; the Atom; Jewish Lutheran
Charles Darwin; Evolution Anglican (nominal); Unitarian
Louis Pasteur; the Germ Theory of Disease; Catholic
Galileo Galilei; the New Science; Catholic
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier; the Revolution in Chemistry; Catholic
Johannes Kepler; Motion of the Planets; Lutheran
Nicolaus Copernicus; the Heliocentric Universe; Catholic
Michael Faraday; the Classical Field Theory; Sandemanian
James Clerk Maxwell; the Electromagnetic Field; Presbyterian/Anglican/Baptist
Franz Boas; Modern Anthropology; Jewish
Werner Heisenberg; Quantum Theory; Lutheran
Linus Pauling; Twentieth-Century Chemistry; Lutheran
Erwin Schrodinger; Wave Mechanics; Catholic
Andreas Vesalius; the New Anatomy; Catholic
Tycho Brahe; the New Astronomy; Lutheran
Max Planck; the Quanta; Protestant
William Herschel; the Discovery of the Heavens; Jewish

I could go on naming famous people in other categories like philosophers, teachers, leaders, military men, explorers, businessmen, charitable workers, etc., but what's the point? It's apparent that many of the most famous, influential, thoughtful, compassionate, artistic and intelligent people in history have been religious -- and quite often Christian. So, that brings me to an observation that I think people who hold this point of view overlook: If Sam Harris, Bill Mahrer and Richard Dawkins are examples of what it means to be free from mental illness while Martin Luther King, Jr., Isaac Newton, St. Thomas Aquinas and Mother Teresa are examples of people who are mentally ill, I side with the mentally ill -- they seem like much more pleasant, helpful, intelligent and compassionate people.


Frank Walton said…
Thanks for the link. RRS ought to know better. It saddens me.
Anonymous said…
Albert Einstein was Jewish? "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
- Albert Einstein
BK said…
Einstein referred to himself as Jewish. As I understand it, being Jewish is both a religion and a cultural link. He may have been Jewish culturally only, but I have never looked much into the issue.
Don Boone said…
Considering that they call themselves "RATIONAL Response Squad" you would expect them to make more rational statements in response to theism. But their many irrational and juvenile statements only serve to contradict their title. If they make these outrageous statements they need to back this up with evidence - this would be rational. In many debates and dialogues they similarly pile assertion upon assertion, assuming that this is enough to raise questions in the mind of the theist regarding the veracity of faith. If they could provide evidence they might succeed. They insist on evidence from their opponents but somehow feel they are exempt of the same. How rational is that?

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