The Huffington Post is running a series on the conflict between science and religion. I largely think this perceived divide is the false construct of the most dogmatic extremes at both ends -- religious fundamentalism and scientism. That said, there is no arguing that many avowed atheists with incredible antipathy towards religion and spirituality point to science as an absolute "truth" which disproves religion. Worse, the new trend among atheists is to define such beliefs as a form of mental illness. That view is typified and galvanized by books like Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion. (See previous discussions here and here.)
Knowing a little something about mental illness, psychology professor Matt J. Rossano takes on the religion as delusion argument.
Calling religion delusional has become an increasingly popular strategy for its critics. To my ear, there's more to this than just a benign slight -- there's at least the hint of the pathological. Religion can be delusional, but to think it inherently so is to misunderstand both religion and delusion.
Having spent my entire professional career around psychologists, I'm all too aware of how clinicians cringe when diagnostic terms get tossed about willy-nilly. So let's begin with what the latest APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM IV-TR, p. 821) says about delusion:
A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture (e.g., it is not an article of religious faith).