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Atheists Are (Happy) People Too, Study Says

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Atheists, agnostics or otherwise nonreligious people can be just as content and well-adjusted as their religious counterparts, according to a new study.
“The common assumption of greater religiosity relating to greater happiness and satisfaction is overly simplistic,” said Luke Galen, an associate professor of psychology at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., and author of the new report.
The Non-Religious Identification Survey was launched online, with primarily U.S. responders, according to Galen. In exploring “irreligious” people, the study claims to have complicated the stereotype that they are less emotionally stable or happy with their lives than believers.
Most of nonreligious people are male, well-educated, often unmarried and living alone, according to the report.
The study suggests that those who are absolutely sure, one way or the other, about the existence of God are most likely to be satisfied with their lives and emotionally stable. It’s the spiritual seekers who tend to be unstable, according to the report.
“Confident nonbelievers such as atheists were more emotionally well-adjusted relative to tentative nonbelievers,” says Galen’s report.
Among the survey’s respondents, 57 percent called themselves “atheist,” 24 percent “humanist,” 10 percent “agnostic,” and 2 percent “spiritual.”
Significant numbers of younger respondents identified themselves as “atheists,” a term that Galen said was not previously popular.
“The label ‘atheist’ appears to be becoming more common among younger individuals,” Galen said.
Kristen May
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • nnmns

    “Atheists, agnostics or otherwise nonreligious people can be just as content and well-adjusted as their religious counterparts”
    I never doubted it for a minute, in fact my money would be on it tilting the other way.
    “The common assumption of greater religiosity relating to greater happiness and satisfaction is overly simplistic,”
    Whose common assumption? Not, I think, common among people who know atheists (and know they are knowing atheists).
    “In exploring “irreligious” people, the study claims to have complicated the stereotype that they are less emotionally stable or happy with their lives than believers.”
    A reason we might be unhappy is that we realize we live among a majority which believes the damndest things with no evidence to support those beliefs; mostly just childhood drilling. So I think it speaks very well for the value of rationality that we come off as adjusted as the majority.
    “The study suggests that those who are absolutely sure, one way or the other, about the existence of God are most likely to be satisfied with their lives and emotionally stable. It’s the spiritual seekers who tend to be unstable, according to the report.”
    So certainty leads to happiness. Poor UU’s! I should point out that many atheists probably aren’t as certain as the holly rollers. I, and I think some others, realize there’s no evidence to support the hypothesis of a god, but if such evidence, very convincing evidence, showed up I’d seriously rethink. How many thoroughly convinced religious types are so flexible?

  • Nate W

    “I, and I think some others, realize there’s no evidence to support the hypothesis of a god, but if such evidence, very convincing evidence, showed up I’d seriously rethink. How many thoroughly convinced religious types are so flexible?”
    Most I’ve met are just as flexible as you claim to be. The difference is that different people find different evidences “very convincing,” and there’s nothing anyone can ever do to change that. There is no such thing as a single objective rationality, and there is no privileged vantage point from which anyone can objectively and infallibly judge one rationality superior to all others. We are all thoroughly embedded in a rationality, and we can only judge other people’s rationalities from the vantage point of our own.
    If atheists might be unhappy because they “realize [they] live among a majority which believes the damndest things with no evidence to support those beliefs,” then that would tell us that these atheists are arrogant and can’t realize the embeddedness of their own thought processes. Nothing more.

  • pagansister

    Why shouldn’t we be happy? It requires belief in an invisible, magical being to have a happy life? That would be “no!”. I’m glad someone decided to check on us….after all the “believers” get all the publicity!

  • Your Name

    Nate, that is a load of crap that people can’t change their minds.
    The simple fact is that 1) most religious people never actually examine their beliefs rationally and 2) if they do for a moment let doubt cross their mind, the mental angst that results from the possibility of having to change your entire worldview is too painful to contemplate, so they anxiously pull back.
    I was a believer for many years in the religion in which I was raised. Then I began to study my religion and realized there was no factual, evidentiary basis for anything that was claimed. It still took months of studying and mental anguish before I finally could admit the truth, that religion was all man-made, as were all gods.
    Furthermore, I think that having a certain amount of frustration, anger and unhappiness at living in a world in which a significant majority belief in an invisible magical sky-god who grants some wishes, including eternal life for believers, while allowing millions of children to die of starvation every year, is a completely NORMAL reaction. If you accept evolution as true, are you arrogant to think that people who believe in creationism are deluded?

  • nnmns

    No Nate it shows what it says. You believe in a god but you can’t provide one bit of physical evidence for any god, let alone yours. Some will say the evidence is in their head but that doesn’t count for anything; it’s not reproducible.
    Calling atheists arrogant is SOP but it doesn’t take arrogance to see the lack of evidence and it doesn’t take arrogance to require evidence before accepting the existence of a creature that would be astounding and would break the accepted laws of science and, depending on the details, would be whiney and/or jealous and/or spiteful. How could a creature capable of creating the whole unimaginably incredible universe turn out to be whiney or jealous or spiteful? Only if it was invented by an ancient group of people with a tiny perspective consisting of their tiny little part of the world of that time and their problems and little or nothing else.
    Then your god was amended with a particular version of the god-as-man myths going around 2,000 plus years ago, not to mention the errors of copying by those monks.
    No, Nate, the reasonable thing is to not believe in your god or anyone like it. And a lot more wouldn’t if they hadn’t been brought up to do so on pain of disappointing their parents and/or spending eternity in a bad place or something such.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Well, I am not an atheist, but I neither am I a proselytizer. I do not believe in that dyspeptic superbeing in the sky that most religious people claim to worship–a Santa Claus-cum-Zeus figure, dispensing blessings and hurling thunderbolts according to which phase of his Divine Bipolarity happens to be in ascension that day. God to me is an inner spiritual presence. It does not make me happy or sad; it is just part of my sense of being. And I don’t think it matters one bit whether other people believe in this God, that God, or no God.

  • Nate W

    nnmns, the only thing you mean by “lack of evidence” is “not enough of the right kind of evidence to convince me.” There’s nothing else that it could possibly mean, since, as I stated before, there simply exists no privileged vantage point from which any of us can objectively and definitively conclude that there are or are not good reasons for believing something.
    All reason is rhetorical. All evidence is to be judged by the individuals–situated within particular communities of belief and practice–who are being presented with an argument. We will deem what we find convincing “rational,” and what we don’t find convincing we’ll deem “irrational.” Your beliefs are irrational (to me); your beliefs are rational (to you). My beliefs are irrational (to you); my beliefs are rational (to me). That’s as close to truth as anyone can get. All we can know for certain is what we personally find convincing or unconvincing, but we cannot know that what we find convincing is a perfect reflection of the world as it really is.
    To deny this and to insist that one’s own beliefs are objectively, universally, self-evidently rational and that another’s beliefs are objectively, universally, self-evidently irrational is nothing more than sheer arrogance; it’s intellectual dishonesty. Prove to me that your thought processes operate completely without bias, completely free of influence from your context and psychological dispositions and your presuppositions; prove to me that you have access to pure, unadulterated objectivity, and then I’ll concede that all you atheists are a bunch of rational people trapped in a world of irrational buffoons. The thing is, you haven’t actually proved that; you’ve merely asserted it. Assertions are all you have. All you can do is assert what you find reasonable and what you don’t find reasonable, and hope that your audience comes to agree with you. The mark of the intellectually honest person is that they come to acknowledge that fact rather than try to hide behind objectively unprovable claims to objectivity.
    If you want, I can play you game too: “Atheists are wrong! Atheists are wrong because they have no evidence that there’s no evidence for God’s existence! Atheists are wrong because they’re irrational! How do I know this? Because I’m rational!”
    You see, such bold assertions don’t accomplish anything. They have no persuasive force. They would get anyone who disagrees with them to change their mind. They’re nothing but attempts to avoid serious discussion and make the ones asserting them feel superior to the ones against whom they’re asserting them–to feel as if they’ve won the debate without really having to engage or understand the other side.
    You can rant and rave all day because those who believe in God do so without evidence, but I believe because of the evidence! Is it evidence that would convince you? Likely not. But I don’t care, because you are not the arbiter or what’s rational or irrational. Of course, neither am I, at least not for anyone but myself. And that is precisely why I’ll never pretend that those who believe otherwise than I do believe that way because they’re irrational. I can critique the internal consistency of their reasons for belief, but I will never pretend that they should hold all the same assumptions I do or value different evidences in the same way that I do. That would not only be arrogant and disrespectful to them, but it would also hinder my own efforts to understand the world, efforts that depend utterly on my ability to understand how little I will ever be able to understand with absolute certainty.

  • GodsCountry

    “”There is no such thing as a single objective rationality, and there is no privileged vantage point from which anyone can objectively and infallibly judge one rationality superior to all others.””
    This is singularly the most irrational statement possible.
    Proves it’s own point, however.
    The fact that communication is possible between any two people in existence proves a common rationality based on universal truth.
    The audacity of waste.

  • GodsCountry

    “”there simply exists no privileged vantage point from which any of us can objectively and definitively conclude that there are or are not good reasons for believing something.””
    Hoisted on your own petard! Irrationality at it’s finest! A statement that if true must be itself false.
    Have another go at it…pray first.

  • GodsCountry

    You seem to know truth, irrational one.
    Don’t let it slip away.

  • Your Name

    Heretic, I have read your comments on this site and, as an atheist, applaud your beliefs. It’s enlightening to read ideas from a deist (I presume?), as opposed to the Christians who too often are (I believe) misguided in their forceful beliefs. I believe that ones own happiness comes from within whether you place your beliefs in a supreme force or in the laws of nature. I feel a genuine happiness in the jettisoning of so many misguided beliefs that dragged me down in too much hopeless fantasy. I look forward to your future posts as hope that there might be some redeeming value in faith.

  • Nate W

    Perfect communication isn’t possible between any two people in existence, GodsCountry. People speak different languages, and some languages give concepts that are impossible to fully express in another language. Even speakers of the same language inhabit different “language games,” different ways of tying together words and concepts into complex matrices that give slightly (or sometimes majorly) different nuances to each person’s or community’s understanding even of “shared” concepts. I’ll bet you a shiny new penny that if I as an Orthodox Christian started talking to you about a concept we both share as Christians–say, “salvation” or even “God”–it would quickly become clear that even though there’s some overlap, the concept isn’t exactly the same for the both of us. Those differences, of course, profoundly affect the way we’ll each reason about theological matters; we’ve inevitably end up diverging on many things because we have different starting points.
    There are different layers of reason. There’s the process of comparing and contrasting concepts, drawing implications, imaging new conceptual alternatives, etc. In one sense, this is “reason,” and there’s a huge degree of similarity between the way most educated people use reason in this sense. We can analyze the thought processes of other people and critique the internal consistency of their thought, the strength of the conclusions they deduce from premises, their ability to interpret a text, and so forth.
    But that only gets us so far. We all inhabit different contexts, different communities, different conceptual-linguistic backgrounds, and different psychological profiles, and so the fact of the matter is that we’re all reasoning from different starting points. There is no common, neutral starting point–philosophical attempts during the Enlightenment to establish a universal starting point based on “reason” in my first sense are generally regarded to have failed by nearly everyone who studies such things for a living. Our different starting points will inevitably lead to differences of opinion not only about what is true, but also about how we decide what’s true in the first place. Lasting difference doesn’t mean that either side is necessarily irrational or unconcerned with the evidence, it just means that they have different ultimate assumptions and ultimate concerns–different starting points–that cause their reasoning and their evaluation of evidence to move in different directions. The way to operate in this situation is not to withdraw into your own illusions of perfect objectivity and dismiss everyone else as irrational. On the contrary, it’s to think rhetorically; it’s to tell a story about what you belief as consistently and as beautifully as you can and hope to move your audience to find it as compelling as you have.
    But, hey, it might be more fun for me to just sit back and watch you and nnmns duke it out of which one of you is REALLY the rational one. I’m sure you’re both firmly convinced of your own impeccable rationality, so I’m waiting to see one of you objectively prove that to the other.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Dear “Your Name,”
    Thanks for your comments. I am not much into “-isms,” so I really don’t know for sure if I am a “deist.” My understanding of the term is a belief in a supreme being whose character can be discerned in the objects and forces of nature, rather than in miracles. I certainly do not believe in magic, but neither do I believe in God as an external superbeing. Last month, I started a thread on the “Interfaith Dialogue” Discussion board; the thread was entitled “God–within us or outside?” The first four entries are my own, and in them I spell out my sense of God. I’m not sure I qualify as a “deist” or an “anything-else-ist.” But really, who cares about the label? Labels are for doctrinal-dogmatists who appoint themselves suspicious guardians of whatever they hold sacred and often tell others “You are not a REAL [fill in the blank].”
    But I absolutely share your sense of joy at casting off the garbage that we usually carry around with us. I was lucky–having been raised with no religious (or anti-religious) indoctrination as a child, I had no difficulty rejecting most church dogma when I encountered it. My own garbage was anger, guilt, shame, fear, etc. When we let go of the garbage that has been cloaking the light of God within, the light shines forth. And that is, indeed, joyful.

  • jestrfyl

    This has so little news to it that it barely begs the notion of being a feature. Why not tell us that atheists and believers require air, drink water, or have to sleep? Of course each faction loves a little schadenfreude – each likes to believe the other is miserable. There is no purpose to try and convert or recruit someone who is content with their lives. Conversion is for the discontent, the ill-fitting, and the struggling person. Smug self-satisfaction in a religious or philosophical position is simply pride in cheap cosmetics.

  • cknuck

    how on earth could anyone religious, atheist, or agnostic swallow this complete nonsense.

  • nnmns

    “Atheists are wrong! Atheists are wrong because they have no evidence that there’s no evidence for God’s existence!”
    I was just thinking about that, again, a day or so ago. I claim we do have evidence that no one has found physical evidence for a god’s existence. That evidence is the lack of publicity that anyone or any organization would surely generate if they announced such proof. Remember fifteen percent or so of us don’t believe in any god and the rest of us believe in a great mishmash of gods, so producing convincing proof of any god, let alone a specific one, would be the news event of the century.
    No hoopla, therefor no proof.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Although there are lots of religions, there are (in my view) only 2 TYPES of religious belief:
    (1) “I believe in God.”
    (2) “I believe in God, and anyone who denies the existence of God is a sinner bound for hellfire.”
    I also see 2 types of atheism:
    (a) “I don’t believe in God.”
    (b) “I don’t believe in God, and anyone who does believe in God is a weak-minded, irrational, fool.”
    In terms of belief vs non-belief, (1) goes with (2), and (a) goes with (b). But in terms of being non-judgmental vs highly judgmental, (1) goes with (a), and (2) goes with (b). As I consider belief, per se, to be an entirely personal matter, the second classification is more important. I would fit best, though imperfectly, into the (1) group, but I feel far more comfortable with people in the (a) group than with people in the (2) or (b) groups.
    And just to be clear: in this schema, groups (1) and (a) represent genuinely non-judgmental positions, and NOT merely a polite decision to refrain from voicing the judgmental attitudes of groups (2) and (b).

  • Nate W

    nnmns,
    For one thing, you have yet to prove that “physical evidence” is the primary or only kind of evidence anyone should be seeking when approaching the God question. Most theologians and philosophers of religion of various traditions simply do not care about finding such evidence; they don’t find it necessary. You say belief in God is irrational for lack of physical evidence; we say that demanding physical evidence is irrational when you’re dealing with non-physical realities (whether God or anything else).
    But as I’ve said time and time again, we don’t all agree about what constitutes good evidence anyway, especially when dealing with fundamental philosophical questions. Again, the only thing you can point to is that there’s been no evidence that convinces YOU. Nothing more–your lack of conviction does not in itself become an objective and universal evidence against God’s existence. Until you can accept that, there’s no point in trying to discuss anything with you. You’re simply too naively set in your beliefs to consider that anyone who disagrees with you might possibly be rational, let alone potentially correct about something, so what’s the point in talking to you?

  • cknuck

    Jesus’ conversation to Thomas is a lesson to be learned about the character of God, He said you believe because you have seen but blessed are those who believe but have not seen. Generation after generation what’s God to do a circus act of miracles for them personally. I have seen radical miracles and hear of many miracles but often I am ashamed that given the more subtle evidence in front of me everyday that I did not come to believe sooner. For those that it would take a personal show for them to believe I hope that happens for them but if it does you will feel what I feel, “I wish I could have believed just because the sun raises.”

  • cknuck

    sorry what’s should be want’s I just can’t post between interruptions.

  • nnmns

    Nate and H4C and cknuck, as I’ve said before I don’t care what adults believe as long as they leave me and mine (in some extended sense) alone. But so many of them don’t! So I point out how weak the foundation is on which they base their right to do bad things to the world.
    I think jestrfyl is just as wrong about his god as GC is about his, but j’s god seems quite benign and I think I could live in a world of people with gods like his. So I don’t intentionally set out to attack his god or his belief. GC’s beliefs are dangerous so I’ll do what little I can here to try to prevent others who might consider beliefs like his from going on off that cliff.
    Now as far as not needing physical evidence, without that you are at the mercy of whatever your mind, or someone else’s comes up with. Look at how many different religions there are. Clearly they aren’t all right. Apparently among those inclined to believe in a god it’s a crapshoot what kind of god they’ll end up with. Why does that not impress me with the idea no physical evidence is necessary.
    And anyway your religion was founded on miracles; big, public, physical miracles. So what’s wrong with asking the god that was supposed to have been so active and public for a big public physical obvious miracle or two now? Could it be the problem with that is, we both know it’s not going to happen?
    Now Nate, again, why would the god that created this unimaginably vast, unimaginably incredible universe turn out to have the psyche of a crotchety, psychotic old man? I’m guessing it’s because the people who invented him either were crotchety old men or knew a bunch of them, some psychotic, and used those as their model for a god. Heck, the Greeks had used people as models for their gods, why wouldn’t the Israelis?

  • cknuck

    nnmns quote, “I think jestrfyl is just as wrong about his god as GC is about his, but j’s god seems quite benign and I think I could live in a world of people with gods like his.”
    jest I think you took the biggest hit here in nnmns atheist evangelical sermon. You have a “benign god.” lol

  • nnmns

    Seriously, cknuck, wouldn’t you hope for a benign god? If not, what does it say about you?

  • GodsCountry

    “”That evidence is the lack of publicity that anyone or any organization would surely generate if they announced such proof.””
    Almost too good to be true, this statement is the soundest evidence that self-deception permeates these pages.
    There is not an epoch of history, a people-group, a corner of the earth where the Bible has been unknown.
    All western and some Eastern civilizations have been and possibly still are, Christian.
    Monarchs are throned along with oaths to God. Time itself is measured from the earthly ministry of the Christ. Legal systems, philosophies, poetry, art, every aspect of the cultures, are God-imbued. Literally God inspired.
    Because without God there is nothing.
    The world exists because of God and continues to exist through God.

  • GodsCountry

    “”Now Nate, again, why would the god that created this unimaginably vast, unimaginably incredible universe turn out to have the psyche of a crotchety, psychotic old man?””
    …and here’s a perfect example of projection, where the personality of the observer is projected upon the observed.
    When worldviews collide, there is ample evidence supplied to the observant to make a choice about which to believe. Neither side in collision will admit fault, but there is ALWAYS a fault and casual witnesses will verify.
    When worldviews collide, the weak position is to engage rhetorical devices so as to fool the witnesses.
    You are fooling no one.
    Truth wins.
    Always and ever.
    The audacity of sheer rhetoric, no matter the level of erudition…

  • GodsCountry

    “”…it’s a crapshoot…””
    It is exactly that when there is no basis upon which to make a truth claim.
    It is exactly that when one relies upon an ill-informed decision that leads to denying God.
    It is exactly that when one strikes out on ones own to fantasize about what characteristics “god” should have.
    So, you are right – you are engaged in a risky gamble.
    One that you are clearly invited to win, risk-free, with a payoff.
    But one that is far more easily lost by continuing to throw the dice.

  • cknuck

    nnmns I think of God as more than benign, sure the gracious and kind part is part of His character but the “self-limiting” is not all powerful. That’s what it says about me. Oops I post this twice.

  • Karen Brown

    Self limiting is a part of the definition that only refers to pathology (disease). For tumors. It means they aren’t actively growing. I don’t think that was the part of the definition intended to apply to a personal characteristic.
    So, he’s probably not going for the medical definition here. But just guessin’.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    GC has just served up arguably the single largest load of crap that has been seen on any B-net posting outside the Creationist discussion boards, where the young-Earth creationists post their daffy pseudo-science. Here, the topic was not science but history and culture, and GC has kindly informed us that the Bible has been known everywhere, through all cultures, and that all cultures are, in essence, Christian.
    I think GC deserves some credit for combined creativity and gall in making up such bald-faced untruth. And this from someone who hectors and lectures on the truth.
    The only possible response: The audacity of a brazen liar.

  • Nate W

    “So I point out how weak the foundation is on which they base their right to do bad things to the world.”
    But my point is that what you’re actually pointing out is nothing more than the fact that you personally do not find any adequate foundation for what I believe. When you say things like, “There’s no physical evidence for God,” my response is a simple “So what? Why is it that such evidence is the only kind of evidence that could constitute a sufficient foundation for belief in the existence of deity?” Until you’re willing to delve into an elaborate meta-epistemological debate out why only certain kinds of evidences are admissible, you simply cannot expect to care about anything you have to say, and you cannot expect me to stop trying to influence the world in the way I’ve been trying to influence it in the name of my God. If you want to do all the hard work of developing a consistent epistemological stance and making a cogent defense of it, I’ll gladly listen and consider it and may likely even modify my own beliefs in response to it. It’s that kind of position and argument that I have to deal with regularly in my capacity as a professional theologian: strong arguments for powerful positions put forward by frighteningly intelligent atheists with enviable educational backgrounds and superb grasp of all the issues at hand. Such people and such ideas have certainly had an impact on me and the way I think about the world. But they do a lot more than just say, “Your beliefs have no foundation.” They’re willing to spend years of their lives engaged in serious study and conversation about constitutes a good foundation. In other words, they don’t come across as being quite so arrogant as to think that it’s patently obvious that their approach to thinking about evidence is the right one, the one that every truly rational and honest person will naturally take. That gives their position a degree of credibility that yours will never have, because they see themselves as genuine dialogue partners with theists and non-empiricists and non-materialists and others who don’t agree with them. They don’t come across as parents patting us Christians on the head and saying, “Silly kids, you’re just not rational enough yet to realize you don’t have any reasons for believing the things that you believe. Someday you’ll learn.”
    “Look at how many different religions there are. Clearly they aren’t all right.”
    Well, but your belief in the need for physical evidence, “empiricism,” is just one epistemology among many others. Look how many different epistemologies there are in the world. Clearly they’re not all right any more than all religions are right. This is where your arrogance creeps in: you not only suspect that you’re right about what you belief (which is natural and nothing to be ashamed of), but because the topic at hand is the nature of Reason itself, you equate your own beliefs with Reason itself. Hence, everyone who disagrees with you on this matter is necessarily irrational. And of course, once we deem someone else irrational, we cease to be dialogue partners with them, because we assume that what they say is irrational. This dynamic is not far from what goes on in the minds of many exclusive, hyper-”conservative” religious people: they equate their ideas so solidly with Truth and Reason and Morality that no one who isn’t part of their religion can possibly be both rational and honest and good. Many religious people need a huge dose of intellectual humility in that regard; they need to realize that they, like everyone else, are probably wrong about most things they believe. But many atheists have the same problem, and it is prominently on display in efforts to paint theists and religious believers as being irrational simply on account of their non-materialist beliefs.
    And yes, there are many religions in the world. That’s why I make an effort to learn from them. Our different religions don’t have to drive us apart just because they aren’t the same, as long as we all are willing to face up to the fact of our own finitude and ignorance.
    “And anyway your religion was founded on miracles; big, public, physical miracles.”
    My religion was founded primarily on a single miracle (the resurrection) that served a purpose other than convincing atheists of the existence of God. These miracles had nothing to do with with trying to provide the kind of evidence that would satisfy strict empiricists. Miracles were not put to use to serve that kind of apologetic purpose until centuries later, by theists who I think were a bit misguided, as Hume pretty much destroyed their efforts.
    “Now Nate, again, why would the god that created this unimaginably vast, unimaginably incredible universe turn out to have the psyche of a crotchety, psychotic old man?”
    The God that my Church worships looks nothing like a crotchety old man. My God is a young man nailed to a cross, pouring out his blood for the healing of the world; my God is the adoring Father whose eternal love for this young man raises him from the dead; my God is the Spirit this Father who goes out into the world to unite all of us to this young man and cause us to share in the eternal life and love that the Father has bestowed upon him. You need to quit watching cartoons and pick up a real theology book for once.

  • nnmns

    Nate: “Until you’re willing to delve into an elaborate meta-epistemological debate out why only certain kinds of evidences are admissible …”
    You’re starting it again; trying to control the type of discussion we can have. We can, in fact, use logic without needing the big fuzzy words specialists like to use, partly to discourage disagreement with them. Don’t bother telling me I haven’t paid my dues to even talk with you; that’s just arrogant. And btw I don’t expect to change your mind; I’d love to, but you are quite invested in your particular strange tripartite god. I do want to point out to anyone paying attention that Christianity doesn’t hold water so they are less likely to sign on and end up fundamentalists or indeed so sure of themselves they want to inflict their religion on innocent people. Same for Islam and Judaism though we spend far fewer electrons on them.
    And if you’re not using the crotchety, psychotic old man god you are throwing out important parts of the OT for sure and the book of Revelations; probably more. But that’s ok with me; I’d say they should cut big parts of that out of the Bible and forget about it. Unfortunately, of course, it’s way too late for that.
    One of the biggest problems with holy books is that it’s hard unto impossible to update them in any serious way. Christianity, Islam and Judaism for sure could profit from cutting out the ugly parts of their holy books.
    Please remain the recent Nate we could talk to, not the older Nate too busy prescribing how we need to behave to engage with dispassionately.
    And finally, of course, I deny any need for any being, god or otherwise, to sacrifice itself to heal me or absolve me of sins. And the world doesn’t seem to have gotten very healed. Too bad.

  • Nate W

    Why on earth should I even want to talk to someone who thinks my belief in God is a clear sign of my irrationality, who questions the sanity of anyone who wants to live a traditional religious lifestyle, and has more interest in mocking other people’s beliefs than in actually trying to understand them and engage them charitably? I’m sorry, but conversation simply cannot exist when there’s no respect for the basic rationality of those on different sides of the issue.

  • nnmns

    Poor Nate. School’s starting, which seems to be a traumatic time for him. He’s devoted a lot of years studying Christianity, one of many religions based on sand. I point out there’s no proof outside some peoples’ heads that his god exists and he can’t answer that so he claims I’m not qualified to talk about it.
    Nice try, Nate. But I plan to keep on talking about it.

  • GodsCountry

    “”The only possible response: The audacity of a brazen liar.””
    Back at you.
    I invite all readers to read the posts above to see who has twisted words and who has provided insight and perspective.
    The audacity of liberal “rationality”.
    Lunacy. All is lunacy outside of God’s truth.

  • GodsCountry

    “”Perfect communication isn’t possible between any two people in existence,…””
    Nothing is perfect but God.
    Communication is possible because humanity shares a truth basis established by our Creator.
    We are all much more ALIKE than not.
    The ocean depths of the thought processes possible when contemplating and arguing are un-sounded. As the bottom approaches, truth appears.
    For some, it is the first thing.
    The Spirit inhabits the depths. Rely on the Spirit for guidance to truth and all you need is water-wings.

  • Your Name

    And a huge “AMEN” and “Hallelujah” to you Brother GodsCountry!! :o)
    I keep wondering, and asked once before…who are you trying to convince with your sermons? Us or yourself? To quote your last sermon: “Lunacy”. Twisted words? Yes, there are several in the sermons.

  • pagansister

    OOPS: above is mine at 7:39 PM 15 Aug….pagansister

  • Nate W

    “I point out there’s no proof outside some peoples’ heads that his god exists and he can’t answer that so he claims I’m not qualified to talk about it.”
    Perhaps if you’d quit being so arrogant as to think that everyone who doesn’t agree with you is irrational and doesn’t care about evidence, then you’d see that this is most decidedly NOT what’s going on. This isn’t about qualifications, it’s about certain basic intellectual virtues that are required for mutual discussion: humility, self-honesty, charity, none of which you are exercising. As long as you are unwilling to consider that I can think rationally about the God-question even without coming to agree with you on what counts as evidence and how to weigh that evidence, then we simply cannot have a discussion. And neither would I really want to, which is entirely the reason that I’ve never bothered to tell you much of anything about why I believe in God. Seriously, I want to know, why would I want to try to have that discussion with someone who is committed to thinking me irrational unless I come to agree with him?

  • Wannabe Theo

    nnmns wrote: “You believe in a god but you can’t provide one bit of physical evidence for any god, let alone yours.”
    God is the cause of the physical universe, not just another part of it. Being the underlying cause and not part of the physical universe, what sort of physical evidence would you expect God to leave behind? Droppings?
    “it doesn’t take arrogance to require evidence before accepting the existence of a creature that would be astounding and would break the accepted laws of science …”
    A “creature” is something that has been created. God is not creature but creator, the uncaused cause of all causes, the source and ground of being, not just another being. And the laws of nature are humans’ mathematical descriptions of the underlying structures, the “scaffolding” if you will, of the physical universe which is only one of God creative actions. It is logically incoherent to speak of God “breaking” the laws of nature, as they are merely descriptions of his creative action. As for the “accepted laws of science”, they must be amended as necessary to account for all available data, and often are. They place no restrictions on God.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Wannabe raises some interesting points. The fact that “creature” derives from the same root word as “creation” or “created” is utterly irrelevant. However, I have no basic disagreement with someone who believes in God as creator while acknowledging that there is no physical evidence FOR the existence of God just as there is no evidence AGAINST the existence of God. Nor have I any argument with the atheist whose non-belief is rooted in the absence of evidence supporting the existence of God. Both are unprovable ideas. Some believe, some don’t–who cares?
    But as for God “breaking” the laws of science and nature–here I disagree with Wannabe, for 2 reasons:
    1. Even if we posit God as omnipotent, what would it mean to say that God could create a perfect circle in which the ratio of circumference to diameter is NOT equal to pi? Or to create a plane triangle whose interior angles do NOT add up to 180 degrees? These are nonsensical concepts.
    2. To posit an omnipotent God who creates and then breaks the laws of science is to say that God is the author of chaos rather than order, or superstition rather than rationality–for we ARE rational creatures, and the haphazard appearance of magic in the world would mean that the universe is NOT orderly; that there are NO inviolable laws; that intelligence and curiosity have NO purpose, for we can never understand anything. In its own way, this is just as nonsensical a concept.

  • Wannabe Theo

    H4C: I’ve read your post, and I’ve re-read mine, and I’m not sure how we disagree. To your first paragraph; I agree that I’m not offering a “proof” of God’s existence. An atheist may stop at the universe itself being the uncaused cause, but the theist goes further saying that God is the ultimate cause, implying purpose, rationality, and ultimate objective values in the creation.
    As to point 1) I would call these logical/mathematical laws, not natural/scientific laws. I prefer to understand God’s omnipotence as His being the underlying cause of all existence, action, and power. I avoid stating omnipotence as “God can do anything”, because that naturally leads to questions like “Can God create a stone so heavy He himself cannot lift it?” or Homer Simpson’s version “Can God microwave a burrito so hot He himself cannot eat it?”
    I’m not sure how we disagree on point 2) I agree with everything you wrote, and don’t see how it disagrees with my post. Please explain.

  • cknuck

    you guys assume too much in your limited intellect. In order to know if God has broken laws of science you would first have to know all of the laws of science. With limited knowledge of the laws of science you wish to draw conclusions of which are out of your abilities. Creation is only known by God science is ill equipped to even guess even as much as one missing equation would completely eliminate any theory you could come up with but the fact is there are numerous missing facts so science based on facts unknown is no science at all. So despite all of your elegant use of the language your guesses have no meaning except of a personal opinion. I believe God has given better revelation to less schooled subjects, revelations that remain beyond your grasp because of your level of faith.

  • Wannabe Theo

    Actually cknuck, I agree with everything you said. Perhaps my “elegant use of language” disguised it, but that was more or less my point.

  • Nate W

    You guys make some good points about God’s relationship to scientific laws. I certainly do not believe in a God who establishes some kind of mechanical system and then goes around tinkering with its operation all the time. God is orderly and created the world in an orderly fashion, and empirical observation of natural world–and the “laws” we derive from that observation–are important parts of understanding the world. Certainly, the trouble comes when some people want to claim that empirical observation and scientific laws offer an exhaustive description of reality. As Wannabe Theo points out, God is not typically understood to be a creature or part of the created world, and so trying to force the methods of natural science onto the God-question is a wrongheaded move from the start. Every science must use methods appropriate to the object it studies. For understanding the physical structure and history of the natural world, scientific empiricism appears to be the most promising method we have. When talking about realities that are said to stand behind the empirical world, on the other hand, scientific empiricism simply will not work; it is not suited for the subject matter. A universal empiricism guarantees that we’ll end up with a picture of the world is purely empirical; it rules out other possibilities from the outset. But if other types of posited realities are to be understood and analyzed in the most thoroughgoing and honest fashion, they must be approached on their own terms using methods that are appropriate for the question at hand. That’s why the question of God’s existence, if it is to be addressed as fully as possible, cannot exclude non-empirical evidences: the philosophical, the existential, the moral. and so forth.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Wannabe,
    Perhaps we do not disagree after all. My apologies if I misinterpreted your comments, but I had thought that you were suggesting that God could, if he wished, violate what we understand to be the laws of science–in the usual theological terms, that God can do miracles. To me, “miracles” is just a pious term for magic. I don’t mean stage-trickery or sleight-of-hand, but actual events that violate physical laws–and I don’t believe in magic. My faith has nothing to do with belief in magic or miracles. However, I now see that you were saying that what science does is gradually discover some of the details of God’s “creative action.” I don’t see it that way, because I don’t view God as an external superbeing who was sitting somewhere outside time and space and decided to create the universe–but I have no real argument with your description of science IF we view God that way.
    cknuck,
    It seems to me that by your view of the limits of science, all effort to understand the universe through scientific questioning, observation, data collection, analysis, and testing would be a futile endeavor. It is NOT necessary to know every scientific law to know that a law has been broken. In terms of legality, I am not an attorney, and I certainly do not know every law of the land, but I know that acts of robbery or murder or arson are violations of the law. In terms of science, I am not a physicist, either, but I know that a lead weight will not fall upward if I let go of it, because that would be a violation of the law of gravity. The fact that science does not know everything hardly justifies the attitude that a religious perspective is superior. We are rational beings–if you wish, God made us to be rational. (Indeed, Genesis to me is not a literal description of the formation of the planet Earth and the appearance and proliferation of life on Earth; it is an allegory of the emergence of order in place of chaos, of rationality in place of superstition. of understanding in place of ignorance.) We do not defy God by seeking naturalistic explanations; on the contrary, we thereby fulfill our God-given potentiality as rational beings. To sniff contemptuously at the limits of science and say “Hallelujah! It’s a miracle!” is to demean the spiritual gift of rationality. The task of science is not “to know everything” but “to learn through rational observation and analysis.”

  • Wannabe Theo

    H4C wrote: “I don’t view God as an external superbeing who was sitting somewhere outside time and space and decided to create the universe”
    Time and space are part of the physical universe. If God is the creator of this universe, then He is the creator of space and time, and therefore sits “outside of time and space”.
    “In terms of science, I am not a physicist, either, but I know that a lead weight will not fall upward if I let go of it, because that would be a violation of the law of gravity.”
    And if it did, all physicists everywhere would be obligated to take this datum into account. Science is descriptive, not proscriptive.

  • Wannabe Theo

    Sorry, I meant “prescriptive”; not “proscriptive”.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Yes, IF God is the creator of the physical universe… but I don’t experience God that way. God is spiritual presence within us, not an external puppet-master of the universe.
    And yes, of course, scientists would have to take into account a massive object that fell upward, if such a bizarre event were ever to happen… but it has never happened. That would be a “miracle” or magic. And I don’t believe in magic. I do believe in science, and science, if not prescriptive, IS predictive.

  • jestrfyl

    Do religious people feel happier if atheists are miserable? That certainly seems to be the case in reading the various comments here. It is sad when your happiness depends on someone else being sad, depressed, or simply blah. There is no joy in that kind of happiness. It would be like smiling as you stand intentionally on someone toes. That is the definition of a bully. So, feel better now?

  • cknuck

    H4C you do go on, far more than any other religious person I know. I know many Christian scientist and I love science but I don’t worship it and I am very aware of the shortfalls science has contribute to the world. So don’t lecture me like I am a superstitious fool. Science has healed and killed, the bulk of toxins that are changing our earth are from science so don’t parade science to be our next saint because if we look closely you will see a double edged sword when it comes to science. As for your description of God it is not supported by the bible it is yours, your private god created by your mind; no thanks.

  • Kenneth H. Bonnell

    I have realized that I was a atheist since leaving highschool and the influence of my staunch Presbyterian gandmother. I was a reader of science fiction and found a local meeting of sci-fi fans (LASFS}, most of whom were atheists. While in the army I read an Armed Forces edition of George Benard Shaw’s “Androcles and the Lion” and two other plays, with its introduction that is critical of Christianity. After leaving the Army I was let know that there was a national atheist organization and that it had a Los Angeles chapter. The phone book had it listed, so I called and got the time and location of the next meeting and went. More history later.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    cknuck,
    I don’t worship science, either. I respect it. But it was not science that inflicted horrors on the world–it was politicians who took what scientists had learned, and made terrible weapons out of that knowledge. Sort of like the horrors inflicted by some self-important religious leaders who took the profound teachings of their great spiritual forebears and made terrible, death-oriented doctrine out of those teachings.

  • phoenix0

    Why even waste your energy on this debate? Seems like an ego trap to me. Just “let the mystery be” and relax – try to be compassionate toward yourself and othes. It’s that simple.

  • cknuck

    H4C politicians do not create weapons of mass destruction they employ the creations. But they are only the tip of the iceberg.

  • Jeff

    I’ve been happier since giving up my faith in god. I was a committed Evangelical Christian for 20 years of my adult life. Life is definitely much better since spending a couple years really examining my faith and deciding it really doesn’t hold water and a couple more years really figuring out what’s important in life.
    I feel like I’ve got a much better grasp on reality. Things seem to work a lot more inline with the what I now think is true – there is no god who is watching over us and has a plan for our lives – than before when I believed in god, and oriented my life around following him. I find I get much better results when I spend time thinking through issues and taking action instead of reading the Bible and praying.

  • GodsCountry

    “Jeff” has a mnms jones.

  • GodsCountry

    H 4 U 2 c if “Jeff” is a heretic. He’s not jest yer average wanna be. Bet “Jeff” has a sister, Karen who is a pagan! Seriously, bet he’s just got a jones for mnms.
    …a little levity…
    …joyful joviality…because I’m happy!…in GodsCountry!

  • cknuck

    Jeff you sound sincere stay humble, avoid bitterness and may your journey find more answers for you.

  • pagansister

    GC, just why would Jeff have a Pagan sister? (named Karen??) That makes no sense! Joke? If you say so.

  • Jeff

    GodsCountry said that I had mnms jones. I think you meant nnms? Although M&Ms do sound good. I could be jonesing for them. ;-)

  • GodsCountry

    ;-)

  • GodsCountry

    “”Atheists Are (Happy) People Too, Study Says.””
    So says the title of this article. It is possible.
    The rain falls upon the just and the unjust. Evil prospers while righteous people suffer.
    But, in the end is judgment for those who have denied God.
    Not happiness.

  • pagansister

    “But in the end is judgement for those who have denied God”. GC
    Anything you say, GC, if one likes living in fear of a judgemental god. If I believed that there would be no happiness. Living in the here and now makes so much more sense. Living in fear? Worrying about being watched constantly by an invisible being? No. Not a way to live.

  • GodsCountry

    This is BELIEFnet and atheists and pagans have no place posting radically insurgent statements supporting DISbelief.
    At best, it’s poor manners.
    At worst, it is spiritual warfare.
    I believe the worst and will continue to expose the desperate lies of those who deny God.
    It’s not at all difficult, but quite rewarding.

  • http://Commonsenseplus.blogspot.com Randall “Doc” Fleck

    I’ve read through the full report (http://www.centerforinquiry.net/uploads/attachments/Profiles_of_the_Godless_FI_AugSept_Vol_29_No_5_pps_41-45.pdf)which seems to be a rather well done study showing few possibilities for bias conclusions.
    Personally, I was able to identify myself in the descriptive data classes and saw no overt misrepresentation. I am, in fact, a perfect example of a happy atheist.

  • pagansister

    Where on this site does it say that no one but “Christians” can post comments, “GodsCountry”? We who do not follow your beliefs have just as much right to post as anyone else …and that includes Pagans, and Atheists. Radically insurgent statements suporting Disbelief? I like that…very insiteful of you, GC. Why do we have to support your personal beliefs?
    Have you noticed that there are Blogs written by non-Christians on Beliefnet? Or have you investigated that far? Probaby not.
    Poor manners and spiritual warfare? Interesting…comments that don’t fall in line with your version of Christianity shouldn’t be posted? What would you be afraid of? Why does it bother you?

  • pagansister

    Randall “Doc” Fleck:
    Nice to have another “happy atheist” aboard. Don’t be a stranger.

  • GodsCountry

    …lot’s of questioning.
    -there is no statement that “only Chrisitians can post” here.
    -”radically insurgent” is apt and accurate.
    -No one “has to” support my beliefs.
    -Yes. Lot’s of baloney, spread all over this site.
    -I have investigated this site.
    -Poor manners AT BEST. Like uninvited guests at a wedding reception. Spiritual warfare because that’s what it is. We are both being used, but by different beings.
    -Comments that don’t fall in line with mine should be posted. As long as they are not aimed at entirely destroying the basis of this site – belief.
    -I am not afraid of what anyone, but God, has to say.
    -No, you don’t bother me a bit.
    …but I wonder why you even bother to be here…
    The audacity of insurgency.

  • pagansister

    The same question, GC, could apply to you…why do you bother to be here?
    If it wasn’t for insurgency, GC, this country wouldn’t be here, a country that allows for all the freedom to believe or not believe in a multitude of religions, and even you. So I’m backing the insurgents!
    Happy Posting, GC. I plan to remain on this site…as I find it just plan fun…meet all kinds of folks.

  • pagansister

    Oh, GC, you mentioned that you’re not afraid of what anyone but god has to say…Interesting. :o) haven’t noticed his/her posts yet.

  • GodsCountry

    …you asked. I answered.
    What sort of deflection have you employed now? Talking about one thing and you have no answer, so now the story is about our country and how wonderful it seems to you.
    God has the ultimate “post”. The Bible. Read it sometime without your prejudices and you will see God has posted all He needs to post.
    And, as I’ve said, the rain falls upon the wicked as well as the righteous. Both may be fortunate sojourners. But, the “happiness” is short lived, as brief as life itself, for the wicked.
    Never mind “happiness”, God will give you joy unending.

  • pagansister

    What didn’t I answer, GC? My reasons for being here? You seem to have all the answers…figure it out.
    Yes, rain does fall on everyone.
    Have read the bible…that’s why I’m not a follower of the same faith as you. Too science fiction for me. Actually, pretty good science fiction in some places.
    Life is good….I have been blessed with more than most, so I’ll stick with my life. Much happiness has been mine. Why change?
    You have a problem with me mentioning that this country allows both of us to have different religious beliefs? We are not a theocracy…as much as some would like to turn it into one. The country comment wasn’t any deflection…just a comment.

  • pagansister

    GC, as I was rereading some of your past comments, you mentioned that all comments should be allowed on this site …as long as they aren’t aimed at destroying the basis of this site…belief. 5 Sept. 2:10 your post. The site is to explore ALL beliefs…not just those that fall into your catagory. I have beliefs, and so do the others who post here. Not all Christian, or Jewish or Mulsim, or Atheist, or Pagan etc. I have never seen anyone try to do what you claim would be “destroying the basis of this site”. All I have seen is personal opinions, discussions and some preaching (not always holding to the code of ethics here)by folks who enjoy discussing with others the many different ideas on religion, ethics, etc. My point is: Your question about why I’m on this site. Figure it out if you really care, and I doubt you do. :o)

  • GodsCountry

    Plain as the nose on your face…subversion of faith.
    Invisible is the spiritual warfare enjoined daily here.
    …and I’m not talking about anyone.
    I am not glad you are happy, as this only seems to obscure the truth from your purview. Maybe you have suffered and still have not found faith. If the latter, then it is even more assured you are attempting subversion of faith in others.
    I believe you to be a false guide.
    Do not follow false guides.

  • pagansister

    “I am not glad you are happy…” GC
    Well, guess what? I’m glad you seem to be happy.
    “Maybe you have suffered and still have not found faith.” GC
    Believe me, I have so not suffered. I grew up happy, and continue to live a fulfilling happy life with a husband of 45 years, 2 grown children and a grandchild on the way, plus nieces and nephews and a great niece, with one on the way. If that isn’t happiness…then you have a very deluded idea of happiness. (which is what I think).
    “….you are attempting subversion of faith in others. I believe you to be a false guide”. GC
    Well of course I am, GC. Haven’t you seen my horns and spiked tail? Good Grief, it took you long enough to figure it out!! Better start checking your radar! :o) (If you believe that, you’re more gullible than I thought).
    Have a Blessed Day! I know I am.

  • GodsCountry

    …so, there you go.
    Atheists are happy people too.
    The things that make atheists happy are relative.
    Here today.
    Gone tomorrow.

  • pagansister

    We’re all here today and gone tomorrow, GC.
    Yes, Atheists are happy people too, just as the title says. It took you this long to get to the point?

  • Your Name

    “”…We’re all here today and gone tomorrow…””
    This is not true. We die, God judges, then we live for eternity in Heaven or Hell.
    God does not judge blind guides favorably.
    The fact that you don’t care is evedence that you would not find heaven a favorable place.
    Because you would not be able to continue deceiving others.

  • GodsCountry

    …GodsCountry claims the above.

  • pagansister

    You are convinced I’m deceiving others. Guess my scheme is working. :o) (you are so gullible). As I said…if a person has no confidence in their declared faith…then they are open to honest questions about what they have been told/taught. Some will continue to believe (maybe more so) and some will continue to have doubts. Either way…no problem. If they are so serious and convinced…then they won’t entertain questions about their beliefs.
    As to being judged by some invisible being. Already told you…I don’t live in fear…I’ll leave that to you. Heaven and hell are myths to invoke “correct” worship to a god who seems to demand obedience and being worshiped…like a king or dictator. Disobey…to hell with you. Candy for the good children, fire for the bad. Not a happy way to live, but apparently you like being threatened.

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