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Can atheists be happy?
Posted: 13 April 2012 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Very interesting discussion here from a Scientific American Mind article.

Can Atheists Be Happy? Being religious confers big benefits. Time and again, studies have shown that people who have a religious faith are more likely to be healthy and happy than those who lack one. Religious people may even live longer. Go to church and you could outlive your atheist friends by a good seven years, as we report in this issue (see “Healthy Skepticism,” by Sandra Upson). Yet doctors don’t counsel patients to take up Christianity, say, as a way of beating back mental or physical distress. Even if such advice were socially acceptable, it wouldn’t work. Most people can’t just go out and find religion if the idea hadn’t resonated with them before. But finding out the secret ingredients behind religion’s powerful effects might reveal something that could be prescribed.

Post: Can Atheists Be Happy? And Other Answers from Scientific American Mind (The part specifically about unhappy atheists starts near the bottom.)

Basically I think I agree with the general idea. It’s not believing in a deity that confers benefits but possibly more about group identity and support. Which we need more of.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Eh? Many Buddhists are atheists, and yet they are in a religious group. Are they any less happy than Christians? I doubt it. If not, then the issue isn’t atheism but something else. Perhaps social factors. (Belonging to some group, etc.)

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Posted: 13 April 2012 08:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Here we go again, confusing correlation for causation. Growing up in the Czech R. I am well aware of the fact that atheists can be a bunch of grumps, but I don’t think it is atheism that causes one to be less happy or religion to be happier.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 11:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’ve heard that before, but I don’t really buy it.  There is however a correlation between intellegence and unhappiness; and for the lack of a better word,“stupid” people are less likely to be atheists.  Maybe that is what’s going on?

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Posted: 14 April 2012 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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mid atlantic - 13 April 2012 11:17 PM

I’ve heard that before, but I don’t really buy it.  There is however a correlation between intellegence and unhappiness; and for the lack of a better word,“stupid” people are less likely to be atheists.  Maybe that is what’s going on?


But the point being made is that correlation is not causation. Coming up with another correlation changes nothing.

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Posted: 14 April 2012 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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dougsmith - 13 April 2012 08:23 AM

Eh? Many Buddhists are atheists, and yet they are in a religious group. Are they any less happy than Christians? I doubt it. If not, then the issue isn’t atheism but something else. Perhaps social factors. (Belonging to some group, etc.)

Just scanning the article shows you are right:

But finding out the secret ingredients behind religion’s powerful effects might reveal something that could be prescribed.
One clue: religion makes the biggest difference for well-being in places where life is hard, suggesting the belief system, or the camaraderie that accompanies it, provides support when times are tough. But if you are affluent, and things are going well, you may be perfectly happy without this psychological safety net, studies show. 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.

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Posted: 14 April 2012 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I seem to recall a study that showed that people who have a strong social life with a group tend to outlive loners.  While it’s only correlation, this may contribute to the results reported since churches are based on connected groups while there is a low frequency of atheists in the population along with the scarcity of atheist based groups.

Occam

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Posted: 16 April 2012 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I seem to recall a study that showed that people who have a strong social life with a group tend to outlive loners.  While it’s only correlation, this may contribute to the results reported since churches are based on connected groups while there is a low frequency of atheists in the population along with the scarcity of atheist based groups.

Occam

Here’s an example of a study that focuses on the efffects of the family and friends as opposed to those who lack both. It dosen’t mention church affiliation but IMO the religious among us, especially those who are older use churches as a way to maintain contact with people who care about them, sort of a surrogate family. Churches provide a caring environment where members frequently visit, share food and provide companionship for individuals cut off from society by illness or infirmity. There are no atheist organizations on a large scale to provide these percs. We’re still a herd of cats! Also no studies on the effects of internet connections. I suspect that the pundits will find this a positive effect.

Cap’t Jack


http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20100727/social-ties-can-add-years-your-life

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Posted: 16 April 2012 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I wonder what the comparative ratios of suicide between believers and non-believers is.  And I wonder how many wives of husbands who dominate because of their religious guidance in all of the extremist religions are really happy.

Occam

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Posted: 16 April 2012 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Happiness is one thing that is not overrated.  cheese

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Posted: 16 April 2012 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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traveler - 16 April 2012 12:09 PM

Happiness is one thing that is not overrated.  cheese

Amen to that! Can I say amen in here?  LOL

And by the way, I can honestly say that I am far happier now than I was when I was in the bondage of Xianity. But I do think I could benefit from some more social interaction with like-minded people. I have found a local group of humanists who meet monthly. I still have not gotten brave enough to go to one of their meetings but I am on their Facebook page and have been participating there.

I really think it’s the social aspects of religion that keep it going nowadays. When secularists figure out how to meet that need, it may open the floodgates.

And of course, I have you guys. I’m very thankful for that!

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Posted: 16 April 2012 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Has anyone ever seen a happy 5 year old?

Does anyone really believe that a 5 year old has any understanding about God, one way or the other?

The question only makes sense from the perspective of religion delusion.

psik

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Posted: 17 April 2012 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Has anyone ever seen a happy 5 year old?

Yes, my granddaughter and her friends at her birthday party. Plenty of cake and lots of presents. I’d say her sister too but she’s only three. Just to kick in, she’s happy too. And as to god, she’s really more interested in the princesses and how tadpoles turn into frogs. No god just nature. grin

 

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Posted: 17 April 2012 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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psikeyhackr - 16 April 2012 09:12 PM

Has anyone ever seen a happy 5 year old?

Does anyone really believe that a 5 year old has any understanding about God, one way or the other?

The question only makes sense from the perspective of religion delusion.

psik

I’m guessing you meant to say “Has anyone ever seen an unhappy 5 year old?”

You make a great point. We could learn a lot from 5 year olds. Not only are they generally happy, they are also generally more tolerant than adults. There aren’t many 5 year old bigots. In fact, most children don’t even notice most of the differences by which adults compartmentalize each other, until we teach them to recognize them.

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Posted: 17 April 2012 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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FreeInKy - 17 April 2012 06:31 AM
psikeyhackr - 16 April 2012 09:12 PM

Has anyone ever seen a happy 5 year old?

Does anyone really believe that a 5 year old has any understanding about God, one way or the other?

The question only makes sense from the perspective of religion delusion.

psik

I’m guessing you meant to say “Has anyone ever seen an unhappy 5 year old?”.

No, that is not what I meant to say.

I was simply trying to demonstrate that since 5-year olds can be happy without having any definite ideas about God one way or the other then it certainly should be possible for atheists to be happy for all sorts of reasons even if they think there is no God.  It is just that the religiously fixated can’t comprehend people who do not share their world view.

psik

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Posted: 17 April 2012 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Okay… the meaning is the same. I would have stated it the other way but I get it. Thanks.

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