At the private level, total belief in the existence of a two way communicating personal God is harmless to society as a whole, and only likely to give a placebo benefit at the most, or unfortunate unintended harm at the worst, to the believer themselves; in the same fashion as does the folly of responding to predictions made by astrologers about how your coming day is likely to pan out, and what actions you should take to extract the most benefit from these predicted events.
This narrow band of effect, of course depends on: the level at which the believer exercises this assumed two way communication, the level of influence they have – or hold – over others, and the scope of the actions they take as a result of their believed communications from the entity they presume to be talking to.
In the cold light of day, such believers are all, without exception, having a mental conversation with themselves; playing both the roles of themselves asking the questions to the entity, and the entity itself supplying back, the answers they seek.
So, in actuality, the believers ask themselves a question, supply themselves the answer, and convince themselves that the answer came directly to them personally from their divine maker. The answer is therefore perceived, by the believer, to be flawless.
For the hard core religious inductee, in difficult situations which require rational consideration before making monumental decisions, rationality, and worry about the issue at hand, go out of the window; the believer will form the view that worrying about the decision to be made, or applying immense effort into obtaining and reviewing all possible actions and outcomes prior to taking the decision is futile, because, in the final analysis, God will lead them to the correct decision. Therefore, any decision finally made will be considered, by default, the correct one; even the disastrously wrong ones.
Nor can rational counter debate by other concerned parties be accepted, once the divinely prompted action has been selected. This leads to some believers following very flawed paths, in spite of good sound, rational, well intended counter argument.
This can be harmful, and in some cases dangerous, to those who are directly affected by the adverse actions from the believer following their pseudo conversation.
At the micro level, the believer may do their own prospects in general life harm, or even their own well being. At the macro level, the belief that these conversations are a reality can be devastating for others under the control, protection or influence of the believer.
Independent Erie, Friday 30th September 2011:
Guilty of killing: Couple who prayed over their sick child rather than get a doctor.
“An American couple who prayed and rubbed olive oil on their sick newborn baby rather than get medical attention for him, have been convicted of manslaughter.
Dale and Shannon Hickman, both 26, are the latest members of the controversial Followers of Christ Church to be blamed for their child’s death.
The Church has a history of rejecting medical care for their children and relying instead on techniques such as prayer and anointing the sick with oils…
Dale Hickman testified that he didn't call an ambulance once he realised his infant son was ailing "because I was praying". Shannon Hickman said that as a woman in the church, she must defer to her husband. "That's not my decision anyway," she testified. "I think it's God's will whatever happens."
Five other church members have been convicted in Clackamas County for crimes related to the rejection of medical care for their children, said Greg Horner, chief deputy district attorney.
Two other parents from the Followers of Christ church were convicted earlier this year for failing to seek medical care for their infant daughter, who had a growth that could have left her blind in one eye.”
It has to be pointed out that: Dale and Shannon Hickman’s child might have died even if it had received prompt medical attention, but it would at least have stood a chance of survival; However, it was doomed to die in this situation, because the Hickman’s had been indoctrinated with religious belief to a level which had rendered them incapable of rational thought, and incapable of questioning the indoctrination they had received.
It is what the religious alumni call ‘faith’; and it is the nemesis of ‘reason’.