A Completely Unscientific Rant Where I Ask if Religion is Addictive as Alcohol or Drugs

? I have often wondered if religion is a lot like drinking – no one really wants to do it alone, especially if you are an alcoholic. I know that was true for me before I entered into recovery.


 As I found to be true with my substance abuse, once I went into recovery I had to clear a lot of toxic people out of my life, especially anyone who couldn’t support my not drinking. The same seems to be true of religion. The only difference is that in giving up religion so many people who supposedly loved me or, at least, cared about me are quite angry – even seemingly hateful and unforgiving of my decision.


 Religion is kind of addictive in its own way. Indoctrination affects us neurologically just as booze, drugs and just about anything psychotropic.  Neurological studies supposedly are showing that the right combination of sugar, sodium and fat are addictive. My physician recently told me that one study she read offered evidence that eating a McDonald’s Happy Meal stimulates the same areas in the brain as when you are snorting cocaine.


For those of you who are meticulous thinkers and require the rigors of the scientific method I hope you will forgive my rather huge leap. I have been researching, hoping to find some studies to reference, but this is really just a “rant” and not exactly the point (if I have one) with this post.


I watched a conversation between Bill Maher and Ron Paul a couple of years ago where Maher made an offhand comment that religious people just might have something neurologically wrong with them. Funny as it is, I am not sure how true it is. Nonetheless, my own experience with throwing off the yoke of religion has me wondering if there might be some truth in Maher’s joke and in my scientifically lacking comparison between religion and alcoholism.


Giving up religion despite that I can not believe in the god of my youth or in anything supernatural at all has been as challenging as giving up the hooch. Although, now I can sleep in on Sundays and received at automatic 10% raise when I stopped tithing. But, there seems to be a little agnostic voice in me - a voice I call Pissy God - who likes to thow spitballs made of unreason at me.



Views: 26

Comment by Doug Reardon on May 10, 2011 at 4:46pm
There probably aren't many substances or behaviors that aren't addictive to someone.
Comment by Bryan B on May 10, 2011 at 5:12pm
Interesting you should mention religion as an addiction.  I first discovered this idea when I happened upon a book called When God Becomes a Drug. This a very real thing, people destroy their own lives for their religion regularly. They give up family, work, school, their savings, their physical and mental health and so on. I haven't looked yet but I wouldn't be surprised if there is some science to prove this.
Comment by Ezra T. Klatt on May 10, 2011 at 5:25pm

THanks for the response and the book suggestion.


Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on May 10, 2011 at 5:41pm
Drugs, alcohol and religion have not been around long enough to be predisposed genetic necessity unto themselves.
But compulsive behavior in general comes from a time when life or death might just depend on finding more tasty grubs under rocks than your competition.
Since our outlets for the reward/punishment response have changed drastically in a short period of time, our compulsive behavior has evolved, too.
Instead of monotonous labor necessary for survival during our hunter-gatherer phase, we now play video games, gamble, drink, ect.
Every "addiction" has roots in genetic predisposition for compulsive behavior. The environment and life experiences also play a huge factor in what ever it is a person gets their reward/punisment stimulation from.


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