Likening of autistic kids to atheists causes fury

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Autism associations around Turkey have reacted angrily after the head of Adana’s Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children reportedly said autistic children were “atheists due to a lack of a section for faith in their brains.”


“Autistic children do not know how to believe in God because they do not have a section for faith in their brains,” sociologist Fehmi Kaya reportedly said. “That is why they don’t know how to pray, how to believe in God. It is necessary to create awareness [or religion] in these children through methods of therapy.” 



He also reportedly said atheism was a form of autism.



Kaya’s statement caused a strong backlash in the country, with individuals and associations speaking out against his remarks. The president for the Association of Protection of Autistic Children (ODER), Engin Güngör, told the Hürriyet Daily News that the remarks were “unfortunate.”



“I do not know what purpose the statement serves,” Güngör said, adding that the media should also be sensitive toward the exposure of such statements.

Written By: Dilara Sarı
continue to source article at hurriyetdailynews.com

46 COMMENTS

  1. Later in the article, there’s a fascinating quote. “Kaya also said they would turn autistic children into believers through sessions that would be offered for free at therapy centers in the future.” As if autistic children don’t have enough challenges already.

    An interesting paper that tried to look into the relationship between belief and autism (among other things) is here if you’re bored. http://csjarchive.cogsci.rpi.edu/proceedings/2011/papers/0782/paper0782.pdf

    – Marcel Gagné

  2. Whoa! I don’t have that section either! What section is it? Where is the section located?….

    Please, go on, tell us more about this fascinating section! Astound us with your expertise on the brain.

    We’re all ears!

  3. Gods damn it (this is a figure of speech and I don’t actually believe in one or more gods)! Stop making sociologists hard(er) to take seriously. I don’t know how it worked in that person’s college, but in mine, we learn NOTHING about “brain sections” in the Sociology course. “No section for faith in their brains” is an asinine statement if I’ve ever heard one, but then again, what do I know about “brain sections”?

    • In reply to #3 by Dreamweaver:

      Gods damn it (this is a figure of speech and I don’t actually believe in one or more gods)!

      I love it… if you think about it, plural applies to 0 as well as multiple… 0 gods, 1 god, 2 gods.

      I’m very tempted to start using the phrases “Oh my gods”, “gods forsaken”, “for the love of gods”…

      We already have “in the lap of the gods”

  4. “I do not know what purpose the statement serves,” Güngör said, adding that the media should also be sensitive toward the exposure of such statements.

    Well, that’s not too difficult to work out. It’s an ad hominem, and a very crudely done one.

    For a start, there’s no “faith section” in the brain any more than there’s a “gullibility” section or a “believing things section”. It’s the product of many interacting sub-modules across the brain. Secondly, most atheists are ex-believers, so unless their “faith section” suddenly died, they don’t fit the simplistic model. Thirdly, atheism is a position on a set of true/false statements, and is not a form of brain disorder. Heck, autism isn’t necessarily a brain disorder – just ask the people on various places on the autistic spectrum what they think about it – and the evidence of autistic people who are religious (and atheistic people without autism) contradict the point. Fourthly, this is a sociologist speaking, not a neuroscientist. Fifthly, there’s nothing special about believing that a god exists any more than any other kind of belief, as they reduce to statements of fact that the brain treats as true, partially true, or false. Sixthly, this doesn’t evade the burden of proof. Brains could be set up so that what is called the “faith section” is actually a portion of the brain that promotes illogical beliefs based on built-in and unjustified assumptions rather than on specialist technology for apprehending real truths. So that’s a dead end.

    What a pathetic attempt at character assassination of atheists, but then this is Turkey.

    • In reply to #4 by Zeuglodon:

      “I do not know what purpose the statement serves,” Güngör said, adding that the media should also be sensitive toward the exposure of such statements.

      Well, that’s not too difficult to work out. It’s an ad hominem, and a very crudely done one.

      For a start, there’s no “faith section” in the brain any more than there’s a “gullibility” section or a “believing things section”. It’s the product of many interacting sub-modules across the brain. Secondly, most atheists are ex-believers, so unless their “faith section” suddenly died, they don’t fit the simplistic model. Thirdly, atheism is a position on a set of true/false statements, and is not a form of brain disorder. Heck, autism isn’t necessarily a brain disorder – just ask the people on various places on the autistic spectrum what they think about it – and the evidence of autistic people who are religious (and atheistic people without autism) contradict the point. Fourthly, this is a sociologist speaking, not a neuroscientist. Fifthly, there’s nothing special about believing that a god exists any more than any other kind of belief, as they reduce to statements of fact that the brain treats as true, partially true, or false. Sixthly, this doesn’t evade the burden of proof. Brains could be set up so that what is called the “faith section” is actually a portion of the brain that promotes illogical beliefs based on built-in and unjustified assumptions rather than on specialist technology for apprehending real truths. So that’s a dead end.

      What a pathetic attempt at character assassination of atheists, but then this is Turkey.

      What if people didn´t have any clue of what critical thinking is, objectivity and common sense, I wonder.

      I am still thinking on a discussion held on RDF, I quote the sentence that still occurs me: “science is not in the business of morality” (something like that came to be partly the issue discussed or what really concerned me, from commenting an article written by Frans de Waal), and actually science (and common sense of course) helps a lot, I think.
      Can you imagine that because of phrenology taken seriously by Captain Fitzroy, Darwin didn´t go on board of the Beagle as Fitzroy believed that Darwin´s nose was not the right shape of a good character person ? What will prompt us then to use of objectivity to avoid all kind of unfair prejudices people feed against others ?

      As I used to follow the neurophilosophy blog, I have find the under link article and.

      ** “For a start, there’s no “faith section” in the brain any more than there’s a “gullibility” section or a “believing things section”. It’s the product of many interacting sub-modules across the brain” .**

      to stand for the same.

      (“the mind is what the brain does”, Dr. Andy Thomson quoted the same which the author of the blog, Mo Costandi, did )

      See:

      THERE IS NO “GOD SPOT” IN THE HUMAN BRAIN

      Dr. Andy Thomson at Imagine No Religion Conference

  5. The fabled faith section is located right under the woo-bollox synapse and posession of both enables the posessor to disregard any evidence whatsoever about the true nature of reality even if their lives depended on it.

    Feckwitz!

  6. Unfortunately I appear to have banged my head and damaged the ‘making smartarse comments on a serious issues’ section of my brain and therefore have nothing to say on this subject. Luckily the ‘speak even if you have nothing interesting or useful to say’ section is still fully functional.

  7. As he comes from Turkey he is presumably a Muslim therefore he has parts of his brain which doesn’t know how to worship Jesus, or Jehovah, or Odin, or Jupiter, or Buddha (I know Buddhists don’t actually worship Buddha), or Ra, or Quetzacotl or any of the thousands of other gods humanity has invented.

    Unfortunately however, the part of his brain for determining the difference between fact and fiction doesn’t seem to work either.

  8. “Autistic children do not know how to believe in God because they do not have a section for faith in their brains,” sociologist Fehmi Kaya reportedly said… He also reportedly said atheism was a form of autism.

    So is autism necessary or sufficient for atheism? Kaya’s position is confused. Indeed, it is nonsense. Although autistic and neurotypical brains do differ, it’s not in whether an entire section is present. And why should there be a section for theism but not any other belief? If there was one, “god genes” would be more sensible to speak of.

    Incidentally, research shows autistic people are less likely to be religious, but it’s far from being impossible.

  9. I have taught several extremely religious Asberger’s kids. One of them is probably the student I’ll carry in my heart until I die. When he earned his Eagle Scout, he spoke out against the Boy Scouts discrimination. He took much of what is attributed to Christ (as far as Christ’s words) as literal and the rest as metaphor.

    He lives life the way religion should make you — nice and tolerant and kind. Perhaps he could teach the rest of the religious world a thing or two about respect and compassion. I have never met a more idealistic thinker and as a result the world constantly let him down.

    He earned a 98% or higher in Advanced Biology and went on to study Botany in college. He views studying Biology/Botany as being the thing that you can do here on Earth that gets you closest to the creator.

    We often laughed at what a strange combo we were, the atheistic teacher and the hyper religious student. I look forward to his 21st birthday so we can share a pint and catch up.

  10. Just a sociologist? Apparently he’s also a developmental psychologist, neurologists, logician, pathologist, and an expert in a variety of fields related to his claim. The only question is, which Nobel Prize does he accept?

    • In reply to #15 by This Is Not A Meme:

      Just a sociologist? Apparently he’s also a developmental psychologist, neurologists, logician, pathologist, and an expert in a variety of fields related to his claim. The only question is, which Nobel Prize does he accept?

      Jack of All Trades, master of none. Subjects like Sociology are SO useful compared to rubbish like science, mathematics, medicine…

  11. It is good that this excellent site posts such views as Kaya propounds, if for no other reason than to remind us what battles reason and the pursuit of knowledge face.

    Where do you start with refuting such garbage? Well others have had a go literally, so instead I will take a “metaphorical” approach and start in the dustbin. No not the recycling bin.

    Sorry, I didn’t get any further than that. Our Turkish opponent is probably too old in the tooth to change his mind, but I’m sure a few locals will have a good laugh at his expense !

    What a wally!

  12. My autistic son is basically athiest by default because we have devoted our time to actually teaching him rather than go to church. Time well spent, but it’s been a tough road. This gentleman would prefer parents divert their time and resources on therapy for the stated objective to “turn autistic children into believers”. No thanks, we have enough on our plate.

  13. Encouraging that Turkish people are not all mindless muslims as sometimes perceived-

    by ‘Kozus Cosmopolit’

    Hooray for AKP-brand science! Much better than boring old evidence-based science because it’s powered by the magical method of Making Stuff Up! And Sociologist Kaya? Clearly this man is a huge-brained science genius! Quickly, sign him up for the Great Islamic Bicycle Project!

    by ‘Misses Ataturk’

    Clearly this man should NOT be the head of Adana’s Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children with those baseless pathetic ideas!!!! I AM AN ATHEIST BECAUSE I HAVE A BRAIN AND I WAS TAUGHT HOW TO THINK, NOT WHAT TO THINK!

  14. Well, that just about puts the tin hat on it.

    Does Steven Pinker know about this section of the brain?

    Religious people just make it up as they go along. It irritates me beyond words.

    Actually, I can think of a lot of appropriate words but it would lower the tone somewhat.

  15. In a way they are right. Asperger’s children are very literal. God is make believe.
    If you told such a child there was an invisible man hiding in the closet watching them all the time, they would look in the closet, wave their hand around to feel for such a man, and say “no there isn’t”.

    • In reply to #24 by Roedy:

      In a way they are right. Asperger’s children are very literal. God is make believe.
      If you told such a child there was an invisible man hiding in the closet watching them all the time, they would look in the closet, wave their hand around to feel for such a man, and say “no there isn’t”.

      I guess it might be a bit like that for autistic children as I have two autist nieces, and sometimes I used to ask my sister to take my niece to visit some exhibitions, and the last time I did it my sister said it was better not to, once the “half man half ape creatures” were causing the child some confusion, even dinosaurs or a sagitarium thing once I tryed to offer her and my sister told me not to, but of course, even avoiding these kind of things she has much more things to be “confused” about, even her pillow (and there was a period in which she loved mermaids a lot, but it was not causing her confusion).

  16. “Autistic children do not know how to believe in God because they do not have a section for faith in their brains”

    This is popularly known as the circle of gullibility or the sheep gland. Its purpose is to make people defer to authority or consensus. It helps squash innovation or dissent in primitive societies where experimentation is survival-threatening.

  17. If this is true, doesn’t it count as evidence that God no longer wants to be worshipped, nor to have his various pronouncements over the last few thousand years taken seriously anymore?

    Unless autistic people, in common with homosexuals, choose to be that way, their autism must be His will; Jehovah has deliberately created a sub-category of humans without the need or even the ability to believe in Him. Who is Fehmi Kaya to challenge God’s will?

    Take this to heart, all you true beliebers… sorry, believers (I sometimes forget that RDnet is only my second most visited website after this one); take it to heart that God is sick to death of you and has had to manufacture a new species of us broadband-owning apes who will leave Him the fu#k alone for the first time in millennia.

  18. There is a high correlation between atheism and autism. When you’re not very good at understanding nuance and subjectivity in language, that can be quite a handicap, but that cuts both ways and is both a handicap and an advantage. Having a hard time understanding people who are communicating emotions means BOTH having a lot of hardship in personal relations and ALSO a strong resistance to emotionally manipulative uses of language designed to fool and persuade.

    To get an autistic person to understand your religion, you are reduced to having to explain it in cold hard precise language without the veneer of “Deepities” as Daniel Dennet would call them. And religions don’t hold up well when communicated with that sort of brutal honesty.

  19. The only person I know with Aspergers is a believer , as it happens. I put it down to the fact that she saw things as being black or white, with no shades of grey and felt comfortable in the certainty of religion. I’m very surprised that the general tend is towards atheism. That just shows that one shouldn’t generalise when only being acquainted with one example.

  20. What f-ing idiocy. Clearly a better use has been found for this locus of brain matter in atheists and autistics. If we can use data on the effects of brain lesions (loss of faith, impaired communication with god and so forth) to define the god locus with high precision, attention could shift to treatments and even a cure. A religioectomy or other more subtle interventions (stem cell or gene therapy, precision radiation therapy) could put a cure for religiosity within reach in our time.

    • In reply to #35 by therbert03:

      *adding that faith would “normally” exist in kids. *

      I didn’t even notice that! That makes him not only a sociologist who believes himself a neurologist, but also a TERRIBLE sociologist. Don’t judge all sociologists by this idiot and other idiots like him. There is PLENTY of sociological work dealing with religion in a neutral way, scientific way, even work written by religious people. Peter Berger, for example, is pretty reasonable in his sociological view of religion, for a christian. He advocates “methodological atheism”, studying religion for it’s effects on society, the existence of that religion’s god being irrelevant, since religions would work the same way wether their gods actually exist or not.

      In another perspective… I’m seriously considering moving to Turkey. If this moron has a PhD, how hard can it be to get one there?

  21. My son has Asperger’s and I have traits of it too (I am umming and aahing about bothering to get an adult diagnosis). One thing we both share is a fairly ironcald belief in our own opinions and a certain invulnerability/ indifference to peer pressure. This is a useful defense against childhood indoctrination which is all faith amounts to when you analyse it.

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    At only £199.99, these faith sections are guaranteed to have you believing in all manner of guff in less than 2 weeks. No fairies in your garden? Whoosh! That flickering light could have been one! Blind chance? Hell no! Thor was displeased! All orders dispatched immediately via cosmic communication satellite infidablution. We also have a limited number of bridges available. Money back guarantee (terms and conditions apply*).

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  23. A common problem of some economists and sociologists is that they think their degrees have bestowed upon them the “divine” gift of omniscience, especially when it comes to knowledge of scientific fields such as neuroscience, biology, education, astronomy, etc. The truth is that very often they can’t even explain the “mysteries” of their own fields of knowledge.

  24. People with Asperbergers and other high functioning autistic disorders are characterized by extreme concrete thinking and their inability to grasp abstract thoughts and concepts which include relationships, feelings. Extending this to ones ability to have a spiritual relationship with GOD…it is easy to see how this manifests into a spiritual poverty and frustration=atheism. Add some arrogance and depression and there you go.

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