Would you be happier as a theist?
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29-09-2014, 10:50 AM
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
I was a theist for a while. Christianity gave me a sense of peace and comfort, even if it was just an illusion.

I won't lie though, there are days I greatly miss the illusion.
Undecided

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29-09-2014, 01:40 PM (This post was last modified: 29-09-2014 01:44 PM by FlyingPizzaMonster.)
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
I was raised as a Christian, but the cognitive dissidence between what I was taught and what I was realizing made for a very miserable experience. I was taught that only TRUE Christians go to heaven and everybody else goes to hell, and that most people who call themselves Christians are not. When I started questioning it in my mind (at least since age 9) I thought "Uh oh, if I have ANY doubts, than I might not be a true believer- I might not believe strongly enough to avoid Hell." And that thought absolutely terrified me.

In going from terrified-of-hell Christian child to "once saved always saved- don't think about it and you're fine" teenager to agnostic deist to agnostic atheist, I found that I am far more comfortable when I dump that poisonous superstition.

When I look at some overly devout Christians (and I'm not lumping all Christians into this category-but it does include some of my family members) who seem to spend every waking moment in a religious la-la land- people who go to bible studies two or three times a week,who obsessive-compusively "praise the lord" every other sentence, and who mass email "prayer requests" for minor mundane problems, I wonder if they are like I was. Are they truly content in their faith, or are they desperately trying to fight the same cognitive dissidence I had? Are they happy in their faith, or are they in denial and going out their way to convince themselves that they are?

I think there are a LOT of people in that category who would be a lot happier without religion, but are too terrified to let it go
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29-09-2014, 01:52 PM
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
From my theist days, I remember boring masses, dreaded confessions, feeling like I was constantly being watched by gawd so no privacy anywhere, fear of hell, throwing away a 100+ record collection because someone convinced me it was satanic music, fearing demons, feeling unsure of exactly what would happen to me when I die regardless of how morally good I thought I was here on Earth, and feeling like I'd better dedicate my life to gawd in order to maximize my chances of going to heaven. No, I'm far happier now that I left all that trash behind.

I am not accountable to any God. I am accountable to myself - and not because I think I am God as some theists would try to assert - but because, no matter what actions I take, thoughts I think, or words I utter, I have to be able to live with myself.
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29-09-2014, 01:58 PM
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
(26-02-2011 05:17 PM)Cetaceaphile Wrote:  This is something I heard being quite common. Atheists who would like to be theists, but can't believe in it. Most of these people end up pagan too I hear.

I also have no idea. Sorry I'm not sure. Explain?

Lables do not make you automatically happy. And in reality no one is every happy every minute and every second in their lives. Everyone has ups and downs, some more than others, and eventually we all die.

There is an evolutionary appeal that god belief produces, the idea of being protected. That psychology stems from being a baby crying for a mother's nipple. And we grow up with that protection with our parents. But it is still humans projecting their own desires in the form of things that do not exist.

Some atheists miss the socializing. Others can see the appeal of it though they don't buy into it.

I have been an atheist for almost 20 years. In that time I have had my ups and downs. I can say this about the good part of being an atheist, and many would agree, you don't have defend absurd claims any longer.

I am not one that misses belief and while art and beautiful buildings and acts of compassion can come from religious people, there is nothing appealing to me about clinging to myth.

Poetry by Brian37(poems by an atheist) Also on Facebook as BrianJames Rational Poet and Twitter Brianrrs37
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29-09-2014, 03:28 PM
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
There is a promise of immortality in paradise, that's the most appealing part of theism for me. It would be nice if it were true, but the stipulations associated with getting there make it a vile and unjust belief system.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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29-09-2014, 03:31 PM
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
(29-09-2014 01:58 PM)Brian37 Wrote:  I have been an atheist for almost 20 years. In that time I have had my ups and downs. I can say this about the good part of being an atheist, and many would agree, you don't have defend absurd claims any longer.

Isn't that the truth! What a relief it was when I was able to let go of the insane creation and flood myths, those crazy-ass stories filled me with no end of consternation trying to justify them.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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29-09-2014, 04:16 PM
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
(27-02-2011 11:45 AM)SecularStudent Wrote:  The more that I know, the happier I become. Before I considered myself an atheist, I basically shrugged my shoulders and said "We can't ever know one way or the other", yet this mentality did not make me feel any better. It was only once I started talking to theists, learning about neuroscience and evolution, and reading the arguments about religion/god that I started to become happier. Now, if I'm unhappy for some reason, I know why I'm unhappy: a combination of chemical reactions in my brain triggered by an event in my environment. This comforts me more than any deity could.

As I've never been a theist, I honestly don't know if I'd be happier believing, but knowing myself, I kind of doubt that I would be. I'm naturally inquisitive, so either having my questions shut down, or having the answers make no sense would most likely frustrate me to no end. I would probably wonder why I'm so different; why I can't just accept it like all the other theists. Of course, without access to their minds, I would have no idea whether or not they have doubt as well, but because of the general mentality that doubting is practically a sin (and is a sin in some religions/denominations), nobody would openly talk about their doubts, which I think would become very lonely.

Beautifully put!
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29-09-2014, 04:38 PM (This post was last modified: 29-09-2014 04:41 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
Church people commonly claim that if all communities were Christian the result would be moral health, peace, and happiness. I don’t believe that, and have some statistics to back up my opinion, as there is a good, very large study that addresses this issue.

The American Gregory Paul is an independent researcher on subjects dealing with paleontology, evolution, religion, and society. In 2005 he undertook a study titled
“Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look.” It was published in the Journal of Religion and Society. (http://moses.creighton.edu/jrs/2005/2005-11.pdf).

He was attempting to test whether high rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with social health. He wrote that his paper was a
“…first, brief look at an important subject that has been almost entirely neglected by social scientists…not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health.”

The paper compared statistics from first-world developed countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.) It focused on these prosperous democracies, because
“levels of religious and nonreligious belief and practice, and indicators of societal health and dysfunction, have been most extensively and reliably surveyed” in them. Also,
“The cultural and economic similarity of the developed democracies minimizes the variability of factors outside those being examined.”

“Dysfunctionality” was defined by indicators of poor societal health, such as homicide rates, youth suicide, low life expectancy, STD infection, abortion, early pregnancy, and high childhood (under five years old) mortality. “Religiosity” was measured by belief in biblical literalism, frequency of prayer, and service attendance, and absolute belief in a creator, in order to quantify religiosity in terms of ardency, conservatism, and activities.

The study had a massive sample size of eight hundred million people. The data was collected in the middle and latter half of the 1990s and early 2000s from the International Social Survey Program, the UN Development Program, the World Health Organization, Gallup, and other reputable sources. What did the results show?
Japan, Scandinavia, and France were the most secular nations. The United States is the only nation in the study considered to have high rates of religiosity, a feature other studies have demonstrated is only found in the so called second and third worlds.

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide. The US has by far the highest homicide rates.

There is a remarkable positive and consistent correlation between pro-theistic factors (especially regarding absolute belief in God, and frequency of prayer) and juvenile mortality.

Life spans tend to decrease as rates of religiosity rise, especially as a function of absolute belief. Denmark was the only exception.

Higher rates of belief and worship of God correlated with higher juvenile and adult sexually transmitted diseases. Rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection were six to three hundred times higher in the USA than in all the less theistic democracies, and were markedly more prevalent in the USA’s adult population too. The USA also suffers from uniquely high adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates. These STD’s have been nearly eliminated in all the strongly secular countries. These statistics aren’t the result of a lack of medical care or antibiotics in the USA. In my opinion, the reason is obvious; Christian parents and schools usually don’t educate teenagers about basic sexual hygiene.

Belief in and worship of a creator shows a positive correlation with increasing adolescent abortion rates in all countries. Rates of abortion are uniquely high in the USA. It also strongly correlates with higher rates of early adolescent pregnancy.
Teenage birth rates are two to dozens of times higher in the U.S. than in all the other countries. In my opinion, the high rate of adolescent pregnancy and abortion is because Christians typically refuse to teach adolescents about contraception or provide them with contraceptives.

No democracy had both strong religiosity and comparatively high rates of societal health in any of the parameters measured. The opposite is true. Only the more secular democracies had the lowest rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex-related health issues, and abortion. The three least theistic democracies—Japan, France, and Scandinavia—also have the best figures in these categories.

Interestingly, within the United States, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west have markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, and youth pregnancy rates than in the northeast part of the United States, where parameters of secularization approach European norms.

President Ronald Reagan once said,
“Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the bible.” I suspect there’s much truth in that, though in the opposite sense to which he intended! (For a list of US presidential quotes about the bible, see http://renew-daily.blogspot.com/2010/10/...eep.html).

There’s a belief in American folklore that America is God’s country because, metaphorically, it’s a shining city upon a hill. The source of this idea is in Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus says to his disciples,
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Matt. 5:14, KJV.) Some recent American presidents and presidential contenders, namely John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale, Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, and George W. Bush, have all claimed that the US was a “shining city on the hill,” by which they meant an exemplary example of an ideal society.

The facts contradict this claim. “God’s country” has the highest rates of murder, juvenile mortality, sexually transmitted disease, abortion, and adolescent pregnancy in the developed world. “God’s country” has recently gone to war in two Islamic countries, partly because of the Christian beliefs of George W. Bush’s government, which was probably only elected due to the Christian vote.

I’ve no wish to offend Americans for being American, but to point out that there is a strong positive correlation between Christian religiosity and social problems. There’s hope for a brighter American future; it’s slowly becoming less religious.

No one should, however, conclude that this study absolutely proves that Christian religiosity causes a dysfunctional society, or that Christianity flourishes in dysfunctional societies. Correlation implies causation, but doesn’t prove it. Both could be caused by a third factor, or the correlations could just be spurious.

This very large study does prove that there’s no evidence that Christianity has a beneficial effect on societies in first-world countries in the parameters mentioned. First world Christian communities aren’t better, healthier, or safer than their more secular peers, and in fact the data suggests the very opposite.
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29-09-2014, 05:20 PM
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
Short answer: no.

Long answer: while the idea of a comforting and loving God who was watching out for me might have been comforting, while I was a theist this was overshadowed by logical inconsistencies. I've said before that I was a curious kid, who took apart everything in my house and reassembled it to find out how it worked. Being told the world existed because it formed out of dust clouds by gravity, a force I could verify, and at the same time that "God did it" made me extremely uneasy. Being told that these natural methods were simply "God's way of achieving his creation" pacified me for a while. But I still was unsettled. I couldn't find evidence of god with my screwdriver, or with my telescope, microscope, or any of it. So where was he?

When I learned that the gospels were largely myth for a while I still held on. I contented myself with, "Well God inspired them," or "The core of the myth is still true." But I knew I was being inconsistent. And it bothered me.

Since admitting my atheism I feel more integrated. I don't have to partition my thoughts, or make excuses anymore. I don't have to do the special pleading and double think. And I'm happier with it.

So no, in order to honestly believe in God you would have to erase a lot of what I know and remove my curiosity. In essence, I would not be ME anymore.
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29-09-2014, 07:28 PM
RE: Would you be happier as a theist?
I think it depends on the person and how they rationalize it. Most people pick and choose with religion so they get out of it only what they want. It's a crutch, but it probably does make them happier. Some people cannot rational compartmentalize their beliefs, so they take all the good and the bad. There is a lot of shitty things in Christianity, and these people are miserable as believers. I don't know which one I would be - I never believed. I have always thought that I would be happier if I could believe. As I learn more about Christianity I become less sure. I don't think I have a personality conducive for blind faith. I truly believe that if I were born into a more religious setting I probably still would have found my way to atheism.
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