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The Abraham Dilemma: A Divine Delusion By George Graham, Oxford University Press 2015, £29.99 (hb), 192 pp. ISBN 9780198728658

  • Andrew Sims (a1)
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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The Abraham Dilemma: A Divine Delusion By George Graham, Oxford University Press 2015, £29.99 (hb), 192 pp. ISBN 9780198728658

  • Andrew Sims (a1)
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eLetters

The God Delusion Revisited

Eugene G Breen, psychiatrist, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital Dublin
10 May 2017

Andrew Sims gives a good, sober and respectful description of religious delusion in his review of "The Abraham Dilemma; A Divine Delusion." As we all know people who believe in God are ordinary people with or without mental or physical illness who have the gift of Faith. This is not a human psychological reality but something beyond nature oftentimes called super-natural. The true image of God held by humanity is of a Father who is kindly powerful and forgiving. Any image not of this gentle nature is erroneous if not deluded according to all established religions.

Abraham is a great example of this super-natural Faith. After all he is Our Father in Faith according to the Christian tradition. As such he demands respect. What would a good and faithful father do to his treacherous son who accused him of sleeping around? Punish him at least. To doubt Abraham's mental health, or even the wisdom of God, or both, is to misunderstand Faith and God and Abraham. Abraham was obeying the clear command of God to sacrifice his son ...and we know how the story goes - he was praised and rewarded by God for his humble obedience to God (who knows more, much more than we do). He was not deluded - unless Mr Graham is really God instead of Abraham's God.

Faith is a super-natural or gifted virtue that elevates the person to Divine life. Not everyone has it and you can lose it. It is a significant part of the lives of most people who live - see internet for numbers of those who believe in God and those who don't. As such half the planet are not deluded and half the planet should have their world view acknowledged and respected. It is often said that philosophy is the servant of theology, and one might well ask where does that leave psychiatry? Psychiatry is not an appropriate tool to study the essence of religion, nor is science as exemplified in the fallacious tenets of The God Delusion.
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Conflict of interest: Yes I have written an article called "Man and Delusion" in The Catholic Medical Quarterly; and also several books about The Human Mind and Belief.

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