Why is belief in God not a delusion?

Robert M. Ross*, Ryan McKay

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Religious beliefs and delusions tend to be puzzling to those who do not share them, often violating established biological and physical principles. Indeed, some scholars have suggested that there is no meaningful difference between religious belief and delusion. This suggestion, however, has serious pragmatic limitations, as it effectively pathologizes billions of people. We propose that a core research goal should be to develop a comprehensive and nuanced theory of belief formation – and malformation – that encompasses religious beliefs and delusions, yet elucidates the differences between them. Such a theory will recognize the importance of culture in psychiatric diagnosis, without ruling out the possibility of group delusions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)316-319
    Number of pages4
    JournalReligion, Brain and Behavior
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2017


    • belief
    • culture
    • delusion
    • religion


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