Autism effects 1 in 88 Americans across all economic classes and races1 . Parents and health professionals search their hardest for a link, a reason, and when science fails they cling to faith. From the anti-vaccination movement, to chem trails, or even reptilian overloards.
What this video says about religion…
How are high functioning autistic individuals different than average people?
Other than the difference in their language development, people with high-functioning autism and people with Asperger’s syndrome share many similar characteristics. They typically have average or above-average intelligence. They may, though, show other behaviors and signs similar to what’s seen with other types of autism. These include:
- A delay in motor skills
- A lack of skill in interacting with others
- Little understanding of the abstract uses of language, such as humor or give-and-take in a conversation
- Obsessive interest in specific items or information
- Strong reactions to textures, smells, sounds, sights, or other stimuli that others might not even notice, such as a flickering light More from WebMD
Cause versus correlation
Religion relies on emotion. Alain De Botton argues in Atheism 2.0 that religion has a way of communicating that hits at an emotional level. Rituals of the devout are based on linking sensory and social signals.
For example a congregation magnifies emotional energy and using crowds. Churches also interlace music through singing, smells through incense, taste through sacrament and refreshments, and touch through laying on hands and embracing other members of the faith.
High functioning autistic spectrum individuals can be perfectly logical, but often lack the ability to interpret or understand social signals. These are the signals that theists use to intensify religious experiences. I’m not arguing that Autism causes people to become sociopaths. They may empathise with others in the room, but not feel the social need to or pull to act on emotions and satisfy the group dynamic.
The pastor wears no clothes
When you take the amped up emotions of a room full of “true-believers” the bare facts of any religion are hard to swallow. Each of the major religions relies on faith whether it is a deep feeling belief or an intimate personal connection with an imaginary diety.
Perhaps Autistic people are better equiped to avoid this “sales” pitch because they are not susceptible to the emotions transferred through sermons or the social norms requiring dancing, speaking in tongues, or snake handling. Without social pressures clouding their judgement the preacher and their holy book become a naked skeleton where belief seems silly.
Canary out of the coal mine
In a world as socially charged with group think and emotion as religious philosophy, the only objective judges can be people who do not understand emotional communication. Highly functioning autistic people are great problem solvers and often have superior talents in certain areas involving logic. Perhaps we should defer to them on topics of origins and the truth of a creator.
1About 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network read more facts from the cdc
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