Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Aren't atheists all unhappy?

Q: Aren't atheists all unhappy?

A: According to at least one survey by the Barna Group, atheists and agnostics are less likely than believers to feel "completely/mostly satisfied with your life today" (68% to 91% for evangelicals) and feel more "stressed out". So, yes, overall atheists are less happy than believers, at least in America. But 68% is a long ways from "all atheists are unhappy."

Furthermore, although everyone is different, I think it's fair to say that being an atheist in America is harder than being a Christian. Atheists are different. Atheists are a minority. Atheists are more hated than even terrorists. A number of states forbid atheists from holding public office. A President in our generation said that he didn't think atheists should even be considered to be citizens. Religion is pervasive in our culture, and to be an outsider to all of that powerful social force is quite a challenge.

Given all of that, it's not too surprising that an atheist in America would feel less satisfied than those in the powerful majority.

At the end of the day, however, I think the best reply to the question of happiness belongs to George Bernard Shaw, who said "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."


newbie atheist said...

Consider the source. As the Barna group says on their site "[we] seek to use our strengths in partnership with Christian ministries and individuals to be a catalyst in moral and spiritual transformation in the United States."

I found another stat from their survey interesting; "...most evangelicals have a healthy self-image. Evangelicals are almost universally "happy" (99%) and were by far the segment that was most satisfied with their present life (91%)"

Delusional might be a better word rather than "healthy self-image." Or maybe their version of happy is based on living in a protective cocoon to keep one from seeing things as they are.

Many atheists seem to be free thinkers and skeptics which implies they actually consider everything rather than live with rose-colored glasses on. It would be hard to remain blissful when you are striving to avoid being ignorant of your self and the world around you. Or as Socrates is quoted, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

I suspect the last thing most religious folk want to do is actually examine their life. So much better to just exist in the Thorazine-like fog of their personal cult which tells them what to believe.

OJ said...

"A number of states forbid atheists from holding public office."

REALLY!? I didn't know this. Unconstitutional, much?

I don't consider myself any less happy than theists. In fact, I'd say that I love life just as much as the next Joe Schmo. However, I don't have any imaginary friends telling me that it will all be over soon and that I will get to sit in the clouds for ever and ever. This idea might make some people happy, but it is a shallow and fake happiness that is based on an irrational assumption.

My worldview is grounded in reality, so the sad things that happen in life make me sad, and I have no fairy tail to cover them up with. I don't consider this a bad thing.

I'm Alex! said...

I don't blame atheists for being unhappy. It's hard having religion shoved down your throat.

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