Some people believe things that are just downright crazy. Or, they would be, if lots of other people didn’t also hold the same belief. Then, it’s religion! Richard Dawkins expressed that exact point on Q and A on Monday night:
“As to whether religious belief is a mental illness, I don’t think it’s fair to call it a mental illness because so many people actually do it. On the other hand I think you could say that if you met one person, just one person, who claimed to believe some of the things that religious people as a whole claim to believe, you would think they were suffering from (indistinct). I mean it’s just because so many of them believe it that we treat it as normal. But if you actually met somebody who said he believed that water could turn into wine, a man could walk on water, that a man could raise somebody else from the dead, you’d say, “Well, put him away.” But because so many people believe it, you take it seriously.” – Richard Dawkins
One of the most silly beliefs I’ve heard is that of transubstantiation. For those who aren’t educated in this practice, it’s the belief that the consecrated communion wafer and wine are the literal flesh and blood of Jesus (or become that once imbibed, or some such). I’d expect that to be purely a metaphor – surely no-one would take that literally – but, well, I’m wrong. If you haven’t heard of Crackergate, I suggest you check out the post which brought death threats and a torrent of conservative ire down on the head of an atheist blogger, PZ Myers. Long story short: he stuck a rusty nail through a communion wafer (and some pages of the Koran and The God Delusion for good measure), to show that nothing should be held sacred. Kaboom!
Turns out there are a lot of people who think they are literally consuming the flesh of a two thousand year old dead guy at communion, and that stabbing a cracker with a nail is assault on the divine.
With that in mind… the excellent Mr. Deity (you might want to watch a few episodes to work out who is playing whom)!