Journey into a psychopath’s mind…

Is it possible to over-assess or wrongly categorise people by listing every possible potential mental illness known to man?

In this fascinating video from TED, journalist Jon Ronson talks about his inquisitive journey into an investigation into mental illness, especially what psychologists have termed psychopathic behaviour, and comes to some interesting conclusions about how we evaluate mental illness and the dilemmas we face in treating and dealing with people who suffer from mental conditions which run contrary to societal norms.

It’s worth going through the whole presentation because Ronson comes to an interesting question at the end, which can relate to how we judge or classify people we meet, or are familiar with, or acquainted with, who display traits we have been persuaded to place into Freudian labelled boxes.

Disclaimer:
The video presentation stands alone as an interesting subject and there is no intended comparison with any person currently or formerly associated with this blog.

 

Posted by Steve


48 thoughts on “Journey into a psychopath’s mind…

  1. He uses ‘Chainsaw’ Al Dunlap as an example of someone unfairly stereotyped as a psychopath? On the basis, that yes he did threaten his first wife, but hes been married to his second wife for 41 years.

    “”Chainsaw” Al Dunlap might score impressively on the corporate Psychopathy Checklist too. What do you say about a guy who didn’t attend his own parents’ funerals? He allegedly threatened his first wife with guns and knives. She charged that he left her with no food and no access to their money while he was away for days. His divorce was granted on grounds of “extreme cruelty.” That’s the characteristic that endeared him to Wall Street, which applauded when he fired 11,000 workers at Scott Paper, then another 6,000 (half the labor force) at Sunbeam. Chainsaw hurled a chair at his human-resources chief, the very man who approved the handgun and bulletproof vest on his expense report. Dunlap needed the protection because so many people despised him. His plant closings kept up his reputation for ruthlessness but made no sense economically, and Sunbeam’s financial gains were really the result of Dunlap’s alleged book cooking. When he was finally exposed and booted, Dunlap had the nerve to demand severance pay and insist that the board reprice his stock options. Talk about failure to accept responsibility for one’s own actions”

    This “journalist” goes to the Scientologists for proof of psychology’s wrong-doings. Then is introduced to a guy who didnt do very much, but by his own estimation would have got five years in prison for the crime. Then decides to fake insanity to get out of his punishment. But hes not a psychopath nooooo….

    So he got the psychos and the cults side of the story, but did he talk to any psychiatrists?

  2. “He uses ‘Chainsaw’ Al Dunlap as an example of someone unfairly stereotyped as a psychopath?”

    I didn’t hear where he said that. Could you tell me when he said that in this video?

  3. It’s always worrying when Christianity and mental illness get together. It really is one issue which is rarely addressed yet I have known many young Christians who have suffered from schizophrenia and depression.

    I think many Christians don’t see it as a disease but as some demonic force like the Gennesaret in Mark 6 who Jesus heals. Christians also like to think of themselves as some form of armchair psychologists because we’ve got Jesus and if you go back in your past enough you might be able to find forgiveness and healing. It also comes against the whole prosper me movement and it is an embarrassment as Christians are meant to have that peace that passes all understanding, that joy joy joy down in my heart and a hope that never gives up.

    God can heal the troubled mind. But I have known many that He hasn’t healed and who go off their meds thinking they were healed only to relapse into some form of psychosis.

    And you know when I’m struggling and things look really dark, I like to be with people who are struggling too. It proves to me I’m not mad and that other Christians go through this stuff too. I really don;t want to talk to happy Christians and bring them down.

    It only took a change in medication to screw around with my Dad’s head and end his life not that long after dedicating his life to God.

  4. Ronson seems to leave it open-ended, as if to say he really couldn’t tell whether a person was faking or not, and that there is a little or a lot of something flawed in all of us. If we were to be analysed according to Freudian techniques how many would come out looking normal or sane? What is normal or sane?

    Apparently, one of the reasons we need a Redeemer Saviour is that we have issues which don’t connect with God’s design for a perfect human being. Will we ever be anything but flawed until we see Him as He is?

    Connecting with Bones’ thoughts, it is true that we can look for demons in people simply because they don’t match up to a certain model of person when, in fact, they are simply, in some way, broken people, either physically, emotionally or mentally.

    There’s nothing wrong or amiss with this. In fact every one of us has been, at some stage, broken, at least spiritually. In fact, we can’t make it into the Kingdom of God unless we recognised or brokenness.

    I don’t know about you, but I need fixing is several areas, some of which I don’t think I’ve been told about yet!

    For example, there are people who suffer from what is termed bipolar issues who have simply acquired, by some means, a chemical imbalance in the brain which makes them susceptible to changes in rationality, behaviour and character. This doesn’t equate to demonisation.

    I don’t think we should mess with a person’s mind by characterising them as demonised. Only the Holy Spirit can really tell us for sure. We should treat everyone who is hurting as in need of care and love unless informed otherwise by God. If they need deliverance the Spirit will lead us into what to do.

    Furthermore, it is obvious that not everyone is healed in healing meetings, or even when we pray for them. This really means nothing but that they are not healed yet.

    They are no less important to God, and we should treat them with compassion and respect. There could be a number of factors involved here, but pointing the finger either at them or the person who ministers is wrong.

    Some people we have ministered to may never be fixed. This doesn’t mean God won’t or is punishing them or thinks less of them, or is even teaching anyone a lesson – them or us, or they don’t have faith, but that they simply need our attention and care for as long as it takes, including the rest of their lives if necessary.

    The Samaritan took the pragmatic approach when dealing with the man he found beaten on the street. Many times that is the best option open to us.

    I think Jon Ronson is making the point that putting anyone in a box and categorising them in a certain way simply because they seem o fit a pattern can often prove costly bot to them and to society at large.

  5. I think he makes it apparent that Dunlap exhibits signs of psychopathic behaviour, whilst being unsure about ‘John’ of Broadmare, who was either brilliant at faking psychopathy or normality, but he never made up his mind which.

  6. Well its no great revelation to say that all of us may exhibit some psychopathic tendencies or sign at some times, and that even the most psycho of business leaders – like Dunlap – may exhibit some normal tendencies.

    At the end Ronson decides not to have a drink with ‘John’, so presumably he thinks the guy may be a little dangerous, or not the best company.

    And we should not judge or put labels on people. But there are people in our society whose job it is to judge and put labels on others. For criminals, those people are called judges and for the mentally ill those people are called psychiatrists. Because as a society we have to make some kind of judgement about the safety or otherwise of allowing certain people freedoms.

    Ronson made a judgement call about whether to associate with John. He had to make that call, right or wrong, and as a society we do too.

    In the examples he gave, I’d say the psychs probably got it right. If someone is brazen enough to try to fake a mental illness to get out of a serious jail sentence, and then immediately tries to say “I’m better now” then they are manipulative and unable to own the consequences of their actions. Theres something wrong with him, but also the system has to make sure that people dont try to do this in future. They need to keep him in an unpleasant mental institution for longer than he would have been in jail as a deterrent to others.

    There is an argument that the DSM has grown too large and is categorising some normal behaviours as a mental illness, like generalised anxiety disorder etc. But the examples hes given of psychopaths do not help his argument in my view.

  7. Q

    “He uses ‘Chainsaw’ Al Dunlap as an example of someone unfairly stereotyped as a psychopath?”

    I didn’t hear where he said that. Could you tell me when he said that in this video?

    “I was desperate to shove him in a box marked psychopath, I was desperate to define him by his madest edges.. and I realised that my God this is what I’ve been doing for 20 years, its what all journalists do we trample across the world with our notebooks in our palms and we wait for the gems. And the gems are always the outermost aspects of our interviewees personalities and we stitch them together like medieval monks and we leave the normal stuff on the floor.”

    Al Dunlap was not a nice person. He had been cooking the books at various companies since the 1970s. He defrauded thousands of employees and shareholders of their rightful reward, for his own gain. He was cruel, aggresive and manipulative and apparently dosent recognise his own faults – chalking it up to leadership. The “normal” stuff that Ronson talks about was that he wasnt a juvenile delinquent and that his second marriage has lasted 41 years. Big deal. Thats why we have check-lists.

  8. @Steve, you said a lot of good things in that long post.

    Re the thief, I’m not defending the judge, but I have concerns for the amount of people in jails, and disagree with the concept that people necessarily need to be punished with jail time.

    What’s forgotten is the concept of restitution. If someone steals something worth a thousand dollars from someone, I’d like to see them pay it back regardless of how long they spend in jail or some alternative rehabilitation program.

  9. ““He uses ‘Chainsaw’ Al Dunlap as an example of someone unfairly stereotyped as a psychopath?”

    I don’t think he was saying at all the Dunlop was “unfairly” stereotyped as a psychopath. Unless you’re saying that Ronson himself did the stereotyping.

  10. “It’s always worrying when Christianity and mental illness get together. It really is one issue which is rarely addressed yet I have known many young Christians who have suffered from schizophrenia and depression.”

    I’m sure you have your anecdotes, but for what it’s worth I’ve been involved in three charismatic churches all of which had people who at times in psychiatric care. In one of those churches, a small one at that, there were two members who were psychiatrists.

    So, I think most Christian churches I know of are similar to other institutions in referring people to mental health care professionals.

    I think now in society we have the opposite problem where lay people assume psychiatrists know more than they do. The psychiatrist is considered by some to be the all-knowing one. Psychiatrists differ in diagnosis and treatment, especially in the case of prescription of medication for children.

    The second problem is that there are many people whose behavior is excused or overlooked because they have been diagnosed with a mental illness.

    I’m not a psychiatrist, but before anyone assumes that I don’t understand and am just some fundamentalist, I’ve had close relationships with people diagnosed with schizophrenia in two countries (the attitude and treatment of schizophrenia in different countries is a whole topic itself and one which leads to many questions) and have been in discussions with a psychiatrist caring for someone I know closely.

    Of those I know ,one committed suicide, and on the other hand I know a couple who were diagnosed with schizophrenia, met in hospital, became Christians and now are Pastors with a beautiful family not taking any medication or treatment.

    “Christians also like to think of themselves as some form of armchair psychologists because we’ve got Jesus and if you go back in your past enough you might be able to find forgiveness and healing.”

    Actually, I know plenty of arm-chair politicians, arm-chair economists, and dare I say it – arm-chair theologians.

    There are obviously some people who are said to be suffering from mental illness who have not dealt with guilt.

    (notice I said “some”).

    Ps Nothing I said here was meant to give offense. This topic is very close to home for me.

  11. I like your cautious approach, Steve, and I agree with Bone’s fears about mixing Christianity and mental illness. Most people here probably remember the Mercy Ministries disaster.

    I don’t have an issue with people listening to and trying to help one another, and I think that our relationships are important to our mental health, especially supportive ones. But I do think it’s good to turn to the professionals (even get several opinions) if something more than encouragement is needed, and church courses on counselling should probably include instruction on when to refer people on.

    I suspect that thinking of people only as psychopaths is to stereotype them. Psychopaths exist, and there are extremes, from which caricatures are developed. Most people are more than cliches though, so it doesn’t surprise me that chatting with a psychopath would reveal more than the cliche might lead one to expect. Likewise, any mentally ill person (which could include each one of us at some stage) is more than their mental illness. It’s interesting how many artists, comedians, writers and creative types suffer from bi-polar.

  12. “But I do think it’s good to turn to the professionals (even get several opinions)

    Good point about a second opinion.

  13. “It’s interesting how many artists, comedians, writers and creative types suffer from bi-polar.”

    And how many people who would be considered as having some level of Autism are inventors and researchers.

  14. “It’s always worrying when Christianity and mental illness get together.”

    Yes, well we’ve tried to explain to the liberal “Christians” the error of their ways, but they are wedded to their “theology” and refuse to come down from their ivory towers.

  15. Our church had a policy of working with health care professionals where the person suffering had a care management plan in place. We were there to assist, not to take over. We never recommended that any person on medication stop without the advice of their GP, even if they had been prayed for in a healing meeting, including any word of knowledge or wisdom.

    We saw regressive results in those who stopped their medication on their own account, against our advice, thinking they had been healed when, in fact, they were acting in presumption rather than genuine faith. For mental illness sufferers, there is always a short term residue of the medication present in those who stop, which some think is their healing, but the following gradual decline is always apparent.

    In a genuine healing the reverse would be in effect. The medication would begin a negative reaction which would indicate a change in their state, then there would have to be adjustments made by their GP to any continued treatment.

    Churches should work alongside health professionals where possible. There are many roads to wellness. God is the Healer in all cases, but we can’t allow presumption to work to the detriment of people who need assistance with their health.

  16. Well said. Same with other types of illness. I don’t think there are many pentecostals these days telling people to throw away their medicine.

  17. On the judge and burglary story, the fact is that it does take courage to break into someone’s house. That dosent mean that it is admirable. In the same way it takes courage to rise to the top of organisations, to sack people and to defraud the shareholders. That action is also to be deplored, but it does take courage, leadership, decisiveness etc.

    Society generally lets off the corporate psychopaths, excusing their behaviour unless they were really bad. Even the worst are interviewed by trendy journalists and the question is asked whether weve been too hard on them. But we come down hard on the small-time psychopaths who do petty theft. There is an outrage if we think a judge has been too lenient with them.

    I think this is the more important question. Not whether psychiatrists are wrong in classifying people in certain ways, but why do we treat mental illness in the powerful in a different way than for the weak.

  18. Probably because it’s easier to hide bad behavior when you have a high IQ, good looks, and good communication skills I’d say.

  19. “It’s always worrying when Christianity and mental illness get together. ”

    Thinking about your statement again, the flipside is as Wazza talked about – mental illness in the powerful. Jim Jones and David Berg of the Family of God – were they bad men or mentally ill?
    The scary thing is when a mentally ill person becomes a leader of his own Christian group.

  20. A sensible magistrate:

    The ACT Magistrates Court has ruled a man who used an iPhone application to track down his stolen iPad was not breaking the law.

    When a man identified in court as Mr S had an iPad stolen from his home, he used the tracking application to locate it.

    The man managed to activate the iPad and hear a ring tone inside the garage of the home.

    Mr S went to the police, who searched the property and found numerous stolen goods.

    But the homeowner refused to be fingerprinted over the robberies on the grounds that the search warrant was issued with tainted evidence.

    Lawyers for the homeowner argued that in finding his iPad, Mr S had electronically and physically trespassed on the man’s property.

    On Friday, Magistrate Lorraine Walker ruled the evidence was obtained lawfully.

    While Magistrate Lorraine Walker admitted a level of technological ignorance, she related it to the way a sniffer dog can legally use a person’s odour to sniff out drugs.

    She said that likewise, electronic radio waves are also in the public domain.

    Magistrate Walker said if it was trespassing, then every time somebody turns on their radio they to would be breaking the law.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-07/defence-loses-argument-against-tracked-ipad/4249202

  21. Religion is the worst mental disease of all. Mankind needs to cure it.
    Anyone who believes in super beings dwelling in the sky is suffering from this delusional disease of the brain.
    This disease,religion, has stopped the only hospitable planet for humans to live on from developing into a true paradise for all mankind.
    What’s incredibly bizarre, is that if you deny these non existent entities do not exist, it’s a esnfrterlgoswco of this illness to slaughter you.
    These maniacs have continued slaughtering sane humans who don’t believe in this gods muck rubbish ever since it was invented.
    I wish all these mad godgobbers would hurry up and finish killing each other, to point of extinction and leave the planet in peace.

  22. AS,
    Your pseudonym is an oxymoron. But even in your short rant you exhibit the prerequisites for psychotic behaviour. And you’re not even religious! So you claim. But deep down, you have a fear of something, and that where your religious begins…

  23. @Athiestsanity.

    Your plan didn’t work in Communist China or the USSR where atheism held sway. Do you know how many millions died there?

    “a true paradise for all mankind”
    Would you like a ticket to North Korea? I’m sure you’d love it there.

    “Anyone who believes in super beings dwelling in the sky is suffering from this delusional disease of the brain.”

    Brilliant. So who will be your first patient? Obama? Clinton? Scientists who believe in a deity? You have a hard job ahead of you, but go for it.

    “These maniacs have continued slaughtering sane humans who don’t believe in this gods muck rubbish ever since it was invented.”

    Actually, I could introduce you to many people who believe in God who haven’t slaughtered anyone yet. Bones and Wazza on this blog are two for a start – and they’re the smartest people on this blog.

  24. I used to use the atheist ideologies of communism as an attack on atheism.

    It really is totally different to western atheism. It’s a disingenuous argument.

    Just like we don’t like being compared to religious, blood thirsty psychopaths.

    Like Joshua.

  25. Maybe you’d like to set up a thread where you and Zorro can beat the living daylights out of one another in words.

  26. I see you haven’t moved on from the power-aggression-uncivil-contentious era, Bones.

    It’s true isn’t it.

    Atheists love showing the evils of (supposed?) Christians in church history. We have to wear it. Or deny it.

    You can’t compare the atheist ideology of Pol Pot with Richard Dawkins (except they both deny God). It’s like comparing you and the KKK, Steve.

  27. You can’t reason with people whose foundational origin is built on evolution, origin of species and survival of the fittest, whether they’re philosophers or totalitarian thugs. They all stem form the same basic error. Godlessness.

  28. God loves you, AS.

    Actually, I could introduce you to many people who believe in God who haven’t slaughtered anyone yet. Bones and Wazza on this blog are two for a start – and they’re the smartest people on this blog.

    Only slaughtered some fundie ideology.

    I have to say that Jesus hasn’t given me the urge to slaughter my Catholic, Muslim and atheist neighbours yet. Can’t wait to see Jesus take them out Rambo style on that day though.

  29. You can’t reason with people whose foundational origin is built on evolution, origin of species and survival of the fittest, whether they’re philosophers or totalitarian thugs. They all stem form the same basic error. Godlessness.

    You can’t.

    I can.

    The difference. I don’t get hung up on a literal reading of the Bible as a scientific text.

    Just like Paul reasoning with the philosophers at the Areopagus.

  30. So you could reason with both Richard Dawkins and Pol Pot, if he were alive, Bones!

    I dunno. I don’t want to burst you bubble but there are some people who’s heart is dead set against God.

    You an only go so far with the contention between evolution and creation. I tend to look at the end game as well as the ambit move.

    Sometimes one just has a gut feeling that, unless there is a profound change of heart, rather than a mere change of mind, the issue of the Creator God is not going to be resolved.

    In short, reason alone lacks the power of faith.

    But all the best with Richard. I’m sure he’d love to hear from you.

  31. Bones, are you okay?

    Richard Dawkins wasn’t even mentioned here? Richard Dawkins and his differences with communism don’t matter. I wasn’t attacking Richard Dawkins via communism at all.

    A man came here and said that religion was a mental disease. That people who believe in God and dangerous killers, and if people who believe in God didn’t exist we’d have heaven on earth.

    I simply responded to that. And I stand by that. Is it really true that if we had a country where there was no religion, and it was based on the premise that there is no God, would we really have no murder, slaughter and just paradise?

    There haven’t been many cases of that in history. But, I can think of the old USSR and China. But there was plenty of bad stuff that went down in both of those places. But things have changed so the only country I am personally familiar with that doesn’t allow any religion is North Korea.

    And I mentioned you and Wazza, because you like to think you’re smarter than the others here, and that fundamentalists are just an intellectual embarassment.

    So, I was hoping that the intellectual elite would be the best person to engage an atheist.

    But sadly, you just started defended Richard Dawkins (who I think is able to do that), started talking about church history, and then boasting yet again about how you slaughtered fundie ideology.

    Okay, if you are so clever and reasonable, engage the man. I made one comment – which I still stand by and was hoping to leave it up to you. Talk to a man who bothered to comment on a Christian website instead of attacking Steve.

  32. Of course AS is just trolling.

    I just pointed out that it’s not a good argument. Western atheism is not the same ideology as Stalinism or Maoism. It’s far more based on rationality, evidence and science than a pseudo religious personality cult like North Korea. And modern atheism would say those movements were religious with a man as the god figure.

    I find it helpful to trace the roots of modern atheism.

    Modern atheism dates back to the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment only occurred because of the Reformation.

    Without the Reformation and the questioning of religious dogma, we would not have modern atheism.

    And of course the best defence of Christianity is to

    live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28 and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 29 For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— 30 since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

    Phil 1:27-30

  33. “Anyone who believes in super beings dwelling in the sky is suffering from this delusional disease of the brain.”

    “Brilliant. So who will be your first patient? Obama? Clinton? Scientists who believe in a deity? You have a hard job ahead of you, but go for it.”

    Are these the same scientists who suffer from the delusion of believing science and evolution and in God?

  34. Bones, could you please just concentrate on one point at a time.
    Seriously, you sound like you’re either extremely angry, really depressed, or obsessed with attacking Christians.

    I simply responded to a man who stated that religion was a mental illness, and that the world would be a better place if those who believed in a deity would kill themselves.

    The issue was not at all about the theology of such people.

    It was very simple. There are people who believe in some kind of supreme being or supernatural beings who are not killing each other and have no desire to do so. People who believe in some kind of God include, Obama, Clinton, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and most of the Buddhists and ordinary folk around me. None of them want to kill each other.

    And your talk about the different types of atheism and the history of such is interesting but should be on another topic. the simple fact is that one guy said that the world would be paradise if there were no religion or people who believed in God.

    Without going into the deeper issues, I simply pointed out that his sentiment may be fine, and I’ve thought it myself before esp listening to old Lennon songs…but really we don’t have many historical examples of closed societies where religion was outlawed and the belief in God dissuaded. You might be right that if an American or British atheist started a new country where religion was banned and everyone was an atheist that it might be nice, or at least better than North Korea or the old Soviet Russia.
    But we don’t know.

    All I know is that I can show you a country right now where religion is forbidden, and it’s not paradise.

    Very disappointed. You’ve said that fundamentalists are a stumbling block to non-Christians. I was honestly looking forward to seeing your intellectually respectable response to an atheist.

  35. You gave a good point about living your life as a defence. Hard to do on a blog.

    But with all due respect. do you really think that you are doing the following?

    “I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, ”

    I spent many months hear avoiding argument and treading so carefully. You seem so intent on arguing. One simple response of mine to a person asserting that belief in god is a mental illness and such people should be gone for the sake of the planet – one response, and you start attack me and talking about creation science?

    Bewildering.

    Especially when if you think about it, I was being as inclusive as I possible could when I talked about those who believe in God.

  36. “Of course AS is just trolling.”

    I try not to think that about you Bones, but it’s increasingly difficult.

    “I just pointed out that it’s not a good argument.”

    No, it was very simple and straightforward, but since you like to argue……

    “Are these the same scientists who suffer from the delusion of believing science and evolution and in God?”

    Yes, it does include those who believe in evolution.

    “Anyone who believes in super beings dwelling in the sky is suffering from this delusional disease of the brain.

    Yes, this includes people who believe in evolution. It includes peace loving Muslims, and it includes Bones and Wazza.

    More attacks?

  37. And Q I was pointing out that atheists are not trying to be Pol Pot, Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung or Kim whatshisface in North Korea.

    Fred Hollows was an atheist. A very compassionate man. Great contributor in society and no doubt we will have fun watching him burn or whatever is going to happen in the last days.

    You can never have a society devoid of religious belief. Even Stalin looked to the Orthodox Church for its support in WWII after slaughtering many of its clergy.

    Do you know any atheists?

    You do make it impossible for scientists to believe in God.

    I spent many months hear avoiding argument and treading so carefully. You seem so intent on arguing. One simple response of mine to a person asserting that belief in god is a mental illness and such people should be gone for the sake of the planet – one response, and you start attack me and talking about creation science?

    Are you alright?

    Is pointing out an invalid argument an attack?

    You do need to harden up a bit.

    And yes the atheist pointed out we were retarded. OUCH! Sticks and stones, dude. But I’ve been called worse by Christians on this blog.

    (Although he has a point about some of us)

    John Lennon has a point too. And in a sense the new atheists are calling religion and Christianity to account. Society says they’re not taking the sectarian hatred anymore.

    Listen to Imagine.

    Are we living in harmony with our brothers and sisters?
    Are we in this to get to heaven? Or not go to Hell? Is that it?
    Didn’t the prophets yearn for peace?
    Is there something wrong with being part of a brotherhood of man?

    Is our religion based purely on doctrine or as James says

    Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained [ac]by the world.

    That is serving others.

    I’m not scared of atheists. Nor do I despise them.

    Most of the time they haven’t rejected God but a caricature of Him. A caricature created by religion which has at times revealed itself as hypocritical, anti-intellectual, self-serving and arrogant.

    It makes me look at myself actually.

  38. I’m probably the last person here who needs to harden up. Lol

    You haven’t pointed out an invalid argument. You just think you have – by misunderstanding a simple point, and bringing in irrelevant points. I’m surprised you haven’t started madly copying and pasting again ….

    I’m not afraid of or despise atheists either.

    And I’m really glad you’ve starting looking at yourself. It all starts with one step my friend.

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