Sunday, April 15, 2012

Scientific American Mind: Can Atheists be Happy?

I can't believe even a magazine with the word "Scientific" in the title would honor that old lie about religion making people happier by referencing it in an article:

Well, duh.  Can't anyone be happy?  And can't anyone have depression?  We have the recent example of Andrea Yates to prove that being a devout Christian is no guarantee of happiness.

Being religious also seems to be most beneficial if you live among mostly religious people, indicating it is way of fitting in socially. In countries where few people believe, the psychological benefits of faith disappear.

So... living in a society where everyone agrees with you and supports you is beneficial, not religiosity per se.  Her advice?

So if you are nonbeliever, surround yourself with like-minded people, and work on achieving your goals in other parts of your life...Your social and professional successes will then help you weather life’s ups and downs just as religion does.

So... this means we should read atheist blogs, go to atheist meetups, choose professions where whether something's true or not matters, and come out to people you think might share your non-belief.

...and put up billboards to let the ones in the closet know they're not alone!

I think we're on the right track.  That makes me happy.


LadyAtheist said...

...and using Annoying Orange and a happy face in the same blog post really makes me happy!

Infidel753 said...

I find it hard to believe the militant judgmental kind of religious people can be very happy when they seem to obsess to much about the fear that other people might be doing sexual things they disapprove of.

At least atheists are not subject to ridiculous taboos that would set them constantly at war with their own nature.

As for the more spacey peace-and-love ones, is it really good for anyone to be happy based on comforting delusions?

The only decent societies to live in are those based on secularism. So while being an atheist is (at worst) neutral as far as generating happiness is concerned, atheism itself contributes a lot to creating the conditions for people to be happy.

Chatpilot said...

Not surprised one bit by that article LadyA. I personally can attest to the warm fuzzy feeling of the delusion of being in God's good graces. The old adage holds true here that like attracts like. In theism it is essential to be amongst those that share your delusion.

Both the Old and New Testament's of the bible actually advocates this. In John 15:18,19 Jesus makes a distinction between his followers and those of the "world." The Hebrews were commanded to be separate from all other nations and not to do as they do repeatedly in the O.T.

Being Christian is like being a member of a fraternity or brotherhood. Their job is to preach the gospel to us poor heathens and if we don't accept it they are to just wipe the very dust from their feet as a testimony against us lol.

LadyAtheist said...

You'd think that more commentators would point out the anxiety of living with the "knowledge" that all your thoughts are being eavesdropped by a supernatural being that can send you into the fiery furnace forever. One of my coworkers got upset when he realized he'd said "cheeses" in a way that sounded like "Jesus" and worried that he'd said God's name in vain. uhhhh wouldn't God be able to tell the difference? How could someone living with that kind of anxiety really be happy?

Chatpilot I think the warm fuzzies are the true reason for the success of evangelism. If they really thought about their theology they'd stop raising their hands and start giggling instead.