Do theist live happier lives?

andrewgor
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Do theist live happier lives?

This is only based on my personal observation within the people I know, I dont have any scientific research to base this on.

Among my friends, relatives and people I know, those who believe in God (christian or other rilegion) seem to be happier and rarely get depressed. Basicaly becasue they believe that whenever a bad thing happens, whatever it might be, losing your job, losing a loved one, having to leave your home, divorce, etc. all the things that could bring a man down in depression nowadays it's in some way in God's mysterious way and all will lead to good and fairness at the end.

I know that personaly I've come to the "so whats the point?" question and that has gotten me depressed many times as I was going through rough times. but that seems to rarely happen to my theist friends.

do you think it's true?


mindspread
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"The fact that a believer is

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one"

- George Bernard Shaw -


BGH
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andrewgor wrote: do you

andrewgor wrote:
do you think it's true?

No, I don't.

On the contrary, most atheists I know are happier than theists. I know many theists living their lives in fear, confusion, guilt and sadness. Does this mean all theists are one way and atheists are another way? No, both accounts are anecdotal and can change from person to person. 


lucidfox13
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I suppose it depends on the

I suppose it depends on the different theistic beliefs.  When I called my self a Christian, I was pretty much terrified of hell.  That was the reason I wanted to be Christian because I didn't want to burn in a lake of fire and scream forever.  I left that shortly after to a more Pagan/New Age belief system.  Looking back, I was happy, there's no doubt about that.  I felt that there was so much more than what this world has to offer - magic, alternate universes, ESP, etc.  I now know that I was living in ignorance back then, and I never want to go back to it. 

 I could probably say I was happier, but I'd rather be living my life in reality here than living a lie.  I still think I'm pretty content with my life now though.

JESUS SAVES!!! .... and takes only half damage!


marcusfish
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The human psyche is

The human psyche is certainly a wild place to be. There are so many chemicals and goings-on that I can't begin to understand.

I had a thought about this topic which I thought I'd share:

"I found Jesus and my life felt better, I felt like my eyes had been opened and that I could accomplish anything"

Here is why Jesus freaks have a tendency to be happy, glowing people...

In American society we are presented with the idea that we can accomplish anything if we put our minds to it. We can vote to have representation in government, we can work hard to be successful in life, and we can find a wonderful partner to marry and be happy with. Even in the most dysfunctional of homes this message still gets through to us.

Then we add reality to the mix.

Since we are only human our level of dedication is not what it needs to be in order to "pull ourselves up from our boot straps". We see that there are those who always seem to be one step ahead of us. We work as hard as we can but the work is unrewarding and we start to wonder what the hell we're doing it for. We meet someone and everything is great for a while but then we realize that having a life partner is actually quite difficult. We're never quite smart enough or pretty enough to make them happy (at least in our minds). This is the case with most things in our lives; we want to be good enough but so often we are not. We want to be loved and respected but so often we are not.

Enter Jesus.

Now we have an imaginary spirit that we talk to all of the time and we say over and over again that he loves us and will never abandon us. We repeat the mantras that we were taught in daycare and remember the fuzzy warm feelings we had in church as children.

He has a plan so all of my mistakes are part of a bigger picture.
He loves me the way I am (prividing I get on my knees and subjugate myself to his whim) and will never abandon me. So the fact that my life partner thinks I'm a dolt doesn't matter ... cuz gosh darnit I'm good enough.

Lo and behold, we start to feel better.

Imagine that.

This self delusion is sure to make us feel better. It's a lot like positive self talk with the addition of a little schizophrenia. If we work hard enough we can convince ourselves of just about anything. If we can manage to convince ourselves that there is a guy up in the clouds staring at us, who loves us etc, we can add quite a bit of gilded happiness to our lives.

The problem? Positive self talk is one thing, believing in imaginary sky pixies is another matter entirely. I can't bring myself to believe that the Matrix is better than reality.


djneibarger
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i can't speak for all

i can't speak for all atheists, but i don't get depressed. i'm very happy, optimistic. i love my life, honestly. i'm not blissfully ignorant, but i'm light years away from the "hopelessness and despair" that theists wish upon me in an effort to comfort themselves.

as far as theists go, if living with 24/7 fear of eternal damnation makes you happy, oh well. 

www.derekneibarger.com http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=djneibarger "all postures of submission and surrender should be part of our prehistory." -christopher hitchens


Cassiopeia
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Ignorance is bliss.

Ignorance is bliss.


Andyy
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When I was an

When I was an evangelical...  I was really happy, when I was 'used by God' to convert someone!  I just helped save someone for eternity!  It doesn't get any better than that, right??  But I do remember funerals for 'unsaved' people, that was the most depressing thing ever, someone I love was being burned and tortured for eternity.

 As an atheist, there are times when I'm happy, and times when I'm not...  but I will say I feel more fufilled.  I could never truly be intelectually honest when I was evangelical.  I always had to find excuses for god (ie why couldn't he fix the suffering, why doesn't he show himself physically).  Now, anytime there is something I don't understand, I can seek the answer with an open mind and not have to rationalize some 'new truth' with my 'perfect' God.


ParanoidAgnostic
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Possibly, but then it

Possibly, but then it depends on which verstion of their god they believe in. Is the the happy god who has unconditional love for everyone. Or the vengeful god who is completly disgusted by mankind and might save a few of us if we suck up really well.

Those who's delusions include the happy god do tend to be happier than me. But I find it's a scary cultish sort of happy. Only in these people do I see the true meaning of the phrase "Ignorance is bliss".

Those who believe in the vengeful god tend to be not so happy. The seem filled with guilt and fear and often spend a lot of time being angry with those who they think live up to god's standards even less than they do.

Personally I think that some unhappiness is a good thing. It drives us to improove ourselves and our lives. Without it noone would achieve anything. It takes discomfort with the current state of things to motivate us to change them. What matters is the conviction that it is within our own power to do something about our unhappiness.

I don't really get the concept of nirvana (the state, not the band, although I have trouble understandind them too). Without suffering and desire what's the point? There's no drive to do anything, to learn or create. I suppose heaven has the same problem. If everything is perfect then existence would get very boring.

Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa!


thraxas
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happier? lol look at the

happier? lol look at the Catholics. constant self-flagellation. If you would consider ignorant beliefs equaling happiness then by all means, you know what they say that ignorance is bliss.

 

But really I would try a more pleasant god that Yahweh. Like the Flying Spaghetti Monster - much more pleasant. 

Biochemist & Law Student

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." -Thomas Jefferson


andrewgor
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I, for one, wish that I was

I, for one, wish that I was brought up as a firm believer in God. Becasue, having blind faith in God would have saved me from many depressions in life. Knowing that, no matter the truth about God, I've gained nothing from my quest in atheism other than so many unanswered questions and sleepless nights.

I would have chosen happiness over knowledge if I had a second choice.


Susan
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Andrewgor, why do you think

Andrewgor, why do you think blind faith would have made you happier?  What would that have solved?  How would belief in a god have kept you from having sleepless nights?

If your depression is physical (e.g. chemical imbalance, bi-polar, etc.), no belief system would make a difference.

Perhaps you might want to give some thought to finding out the cause of your depressive episodes.

 

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Iruka Naminori
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andrewgor wrote: I, for

andrewgor wrote:
I, for one, wish that I was brought up as a firm believer in God. Becasue, having blind faith in God would have saved me from many depressions in life. Knowing that, no matter the truth about God, I've gained nothing from my quest in atheism other than so many unanswered questions and sleepless nights. I would have chosen happiness over knowledge if I had a second choice.

I second what Susan said, but there's another angle.  Here's a brief excerpt from an e-mail my mother sent to me a couple of days ago:

Iruka's Mother wrote:
You have my permission  (I know you don't need it) to feel however you want about God but I am happy and content in my beliefs.  I have peace and love and that makes me happy.  I also feel that I have proof both scientifically but more importantly in my own heart.  If someone could prove to me this very day that God did not exist then I would continue to believe because I am content and happy.  Life is good and is there anything more important?

My mother brought me up to believe blindly, but it didn't "take" because I was too inquisitive and too goddamn smart.   I started doubting.  As a fundamentalist Christian, I was taught that doubting led to hell.  During the deconversion process I had nightmares and would wake up nearly screaming.  The nightmares usually involved being left behind.  I would sometimes awake just before I was cast into hell.

Also, when I came to realize that this life is probably our only shot, I had to face down that fear.  Religion led to a lot of misery for me.

Now, let's go back to what my mother said: "If someone could prove to me this very day that God did not exist then I would continue to believe because I am content and happy."

In order to maintain her own "happiness," my mother lied to herself and taught me a lie that brought me great emotional trauma.  Maintaining her faith was more important to her than  truth or any harm her beliefs caused to me or to society.  Even now she's working with the likes of Pat Robertson and his ilk to turn this nation into a theocracy. 

I have not brought up religion or politics to my mother in a long time, yet she found it necessary to hurt me again (won't go into the details) and once again proclaim that her god-belief is more important to her than me or the truth.

I just wanted to point out that 1) god-belief does not necessarily lead to happiness and 2) clinging to a god-belief for your own happiness is selfish and can cause much suffering. 

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Larty
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No. Theists aren't happier.

No. Theists aren't happier. It took only a few days for me to get used to God's non-existence, but I'm allright now. When I was a Theist I felt so worthless, because I was worth less aside an almighty God. I was also frightened of "Him", because I knew I was in the hands of God. I was so uncertain about everything, and I didn't feel like I was in control of my life.

 Some guy here on RRS told me that was a very childish way of thinking about God. Oh yea? I think it's very childish just believing in God. I don't need an authority to get myself through my life. I can handle everything myself. People don't really "need" God to get through with their lives. I actually now feel way better than when I was a Theist.

Trust and believe in no god, but trust and believe in yourself.


ispeakmetal
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I know I'm far happier as an

I know I'm far happier as an atheist than I was as a Christian. I always felt insignificant and guilty, and I always had to lie to myself and ignore reason to make sense of god and the bible. Also, I know several Christians that are constantly depressed, as well as several who have the exact same attitude toward their beliefs as Iruka's mother. No matter how rediculous their beliefs are, they will not give them up because they're happy the way they are. I know exactly how this is, how selfish and dishonest and hurtful it is, but instead of my mother saying it, it's my father.


Yellow_Number_Five
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I'm not really much happier

I'm not really much happier as an atheist that I  was as a Catholic, but I do have a lot less irrational, misplaced guilt. I feel more free, but I don't experience any more or less joy.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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thormos
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Considering that the most

Considering that the most Atheist nations in the world also ranks as the happiest, I wouldnt think happines has anything to do with religion.

Happiest nations:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/lif_hap_net-lifestyle-happiness-net

How many atheists:

http://www.adherents.com/largecom/com_atheist.html

Edit:  Poverty/wealth is probably a more important variable.

"Everyone knows that God drives a Plymouth: "And He drove Adam And Eve from the Garden of Eden in His Fury."
And that Moses liked British cars: "The roar of Moses' Triumph was heard throughout the hills."
On the other hand, Jesus humbly drove a Honda but didn't brag about it, because in his own words: "I did not speak of my own Accord." "