Saturday, August 24, 2013

Are Atheists Mentally Ill?

This article, aptly titled "Are atheists mentally ill", informs us that, while nonbelievers are more intelligent than believers on average, they're also leading miserable, short lives spent in agony and depression. The article culminates in the claim that atheism is a form of mental illness, the implied conclusion being that one should start believing.

Now, like many commenters to that article, I sincerely do hope that the article is meant as satire. After all, the same site also features a rather clever article explaining why you can't use statistics to show that one individual person is more or less intelligent than one specific other person.

There is a lot to say about why such statistics are extremely dubious, my main contention being, as I've mentioned before, the suspicious absence of the standard deviation. There is also the issue of isolating one variable - faith vs non-faith - from all the others: In a culture where faith is accepted but atheism is not, of course atheists have good reason to be less happy than their religious friends; if you're more intelligent, it might imply that you see more clearly the evils in the world, therefore being unhappy, while at the same time intelligence might correlate with atheism (but not necessarily imply it); etc. etc.

And of course, every time someone mentions "a vast body of research", the dirty smell of a fish market on speed rises to the heavens.

The absolutely hilarious twist, though, is this: if you ask the question whether god exists, then "faith makes you happier" does not answer that question. If we were living in the matrix, controlled by machines, and the real world was a gehenna of destruction and chaos, then my belief in the illusory world created by the matrix does not change that fact. God either exists, objectively, or he doesn't. I I want to know the answer either way, both in case of the matrix and regarding god, even if the truth might make me extremely unhappy. Because, you know, if I don't know it I can do nothing about it.

No, faith is not a virtue, and trying to align one's worldview with actual reality is not "a tragic deficiency". It's merely an attempt to be honest. It's a form of humility strangely missing in those who place so much emphasis on following that most humble of godsons.

I don't get how people can believe that arguments like those are convincing.

It's not even about me defeding atheism against da evulz christians. I'd have exactly the same contentions with statistics biased in favour of atheism. (Only, somehow those rarely ever show up on my tiny screen. Probably because atheism really is inferior. Or because atheists are not stupid enough to even try...).

As I said, I hope that the article is satire. But I'm fairly certain it's not. And even if it were, for every Poe  there are a hundred people subscribing to such b.s. in sanctimonious, ernest sincerety. And that is just sad.


  1. Just leaving this here...

    1. Are you under the impression that you have grasped my points?

  2. If satire is so subtle few people see it's satire, then I'd call it bad satire. I don't think it's satire either. Have to research the author a bit to confirm, but I can't be bothered as the article is a failure whether it's satire or not.

    I got into a discussion with an atheist about whether christianity was a mental illness, and I said no (despite the fact that I jokingly say it is about a hundred times per year). It's simply one false belief people hold among many. Just one that attracts more attention than believing in UFOs.

    I think part of the problem is many christians don't understand what atheism is and isn't, and what it can account for. Atheists are on the slippery slope to becoming Hitler, apparently. Or we have Satan literally in our brains. They believe atheism is the cause of moral turpitude or unhappiness, when in fact it has nothing whatsoever to do with morals or happiness, directly. Then of course there is the whole "life is meaningless" without god, when in fact we create our meaning with every thought we create, including the thought that there is a god.

    I've met many Christians who were a joy to be around. Good parenting does wonders. Family support, health. These are all more important than ones religion or lack thereof. Atheism may make one despair for the seeming futility of our existence, but at least it's an honest despair. I've met Christians who are obsessed with "man's evil" for whom their religion is an obvious escape hatch. I wouldn't call them mentally ill, but I find it hard carrying on a coherent conversation with them. This is probably my fault though, as I just get frustrated with their denseness.

    When I realized I was an atheist, it was actually a pretty happy day. I felt great about it. Later, when I realized that I was surrounded by people who didn't share my belief and there were some social consequences, it was distressing and frustrating. I plan on moving to Denmark or Sweden to rectify this situation, and moving in with a porn star.

    Simply put, atheism isn't the cause of very much. There a many more important factors that can lead one towards or away from happiness and health.