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When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion.
—Robert M. Pirsig[1]

A delusion is an aggressively-held belief that is evidently false. It is commonly (but not exclusively) the result of a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia.

Systematically shared beliefs between close social groups, such as religious systems, are commonly regarded as delusions amongst scientists, philosophers and psychologists, but are typically considered exempt by most clinical diagnostic criteria (e.g., the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The noted New Atheist, Richard Dawkins, wrote a book entitled The God Delusion, in which he asserted that the question of God's existence was tied to the question of special creation, and then argued that since special creation has largely been demonstrated to be false, belief in God is a delusion.

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  1. Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals by Robert M. Pirsig (1991) Bantam. ISBN 0553299611.
  2. What we talk about when we talk about Donald Trump and ‘gaslighting’ by Caitlin Gibson (January 27 at 1:25 PM) The Washington Post.