Robert Sapolsky, a Professor at Stanford University, has said that religion is a mental illness, and that the behaviours exhibited by ‘prophets’ in religious texts are diagnosable acts.
The self-described atheist, who is also a neuroendocrinologist, argues that religion is comparable to a shared schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.
Sapolsky said he was raised in an Orthodox (Jewish) household.
“I was raised devoutly religious up until around age 13 or so. In my adolescent years, one of the defining actions in my life was breaking away from all religious belief whatsoever,” he boasts.
According to him, the parables and teachings of prophets — such as the stories of the construction of the world in seven days, virgin births and burning bushes — are stories constructed by “extremely formative, extremely schizotypals throughout history.”
Online portal, Mayo Clinic, describes people with ‘schizotypal personality disorder’ as those who are odd or eccentric and usually have few, if any, close relationships. “Schizotypals generally don’t understand how relationships form or the impact of their behaviour on others,” Mayo Clinic asserts.
Prof. Sapolsky argues that “religious rituals are a form of exhibiting obsessive-compulsive disorders;” and that “religious people are on a spectrum of mental illness.”