Thursday, August 19, 2010

Smile, You’re An Atheist

I don’t advocate “the power of positive thinking,” but one prevalent lie that makes the rounds among Christians is the perpetuation of the myth that atheists are not happy.

They march out the polls which say Christians are happier. They point to statistics claiming atheists commit suicide more often. But is this objective evidence that atheists are unhappy?

The polls are particularly suspect because of the individually biased nature of asking someone, “How happy are you?” I feel like I don’t even need to say much more about it, besides the fact that the Amish routinely score at the top of all of these polls. If you are happier without electricity, I want to be miserable.

The suicide statistics are a bit more alarming. The pioneering sociologist Emile Durkheim’s view of suicide as a result of a person’s confusion over social integration seems to explain the phenomena as one not pointing to “being atheist” as the cause of higher suicide rates among unbelievers, but rather the social pressures placed on them by the Christian majority as the root of the problem. But who cares what some “social scientist” thinks, right?

Let’s look at it another way. In countries with more atheists, there should be higher suicide rates, right? But there isn’t.

In fact, there is no discernable connection between religion and suicide rates between different countries. Russia has much higher suicide rate and a higher percentage of non-believers, but it still has a suicide rate slightly lower than Lithuania, a country with a smaller percentage of non-believers, comparable to the US. The US itself is just barely behind Sweden, which leads Europe in many polls as having the fewest believers.

In fact, in polls of the happiest country, Finland and Denmark consistently rate high (much higher than the US), while also ranking as some of the most atheist nations, each with a much higher proportion of atheists than the US.

In the end, suicide is so rare (less than 24 per 100,000 deaths in the US) that it is not a good measure for overall happiness, anyway. Atheists commit less crimes and there is a much smaller percentage of atheists in prison than in the general population, so maybe being part of a group that is proud of “being happy” isn’t as important as identifying with people who are actually doing the right thing.

As a favor to my down-hearted atheist brethren out there, I created a logo to hopefully cheer people up. You might as well smile, since this life is all you get. Wow, now I’m depressed… anyway, the logo:


  1. Speaking for myself, a reason for more atheists committing suicide would be a combination of two things.
    1. satisfaction with reality, including acceptance of death as a natural part of it, makes assisted dying a better option than fighting futiley against a painful fatal end.

    2. inaccessible health care + cancer: see #1

  2. From what I understand, countries with very little suicide primarily have incidents among teens and the elderly or terminally ill. Countries with higher rates of suicide have those cases with varying degrees of increase among young men, not only in their teens, but up to 30 years old or so. I suspect many of these are economic or cultural in nature.

    I'm not sure healthcare is the issue here, but it would be nice if the US joined the rest of the developed world by adopting a humane national healthcare system.

  3. Nope, no healthcare. Because Americans "can't afford" more taxes.

  4. Well, the lower and middle class ones probably can't... that just leaves...


  5. Happy or unhappy is irrelevant. Even if Christians are 'more happy' who cares? Happiness doesn't prove that their God exists. If anything, they are living with false hope.

  6. of course they are happier, they "know" there some magic man in the sky that will fix everything that goes wrong and make everything right in the end. Also they "know" they will live forever. Who wouldn't be happier if they thought there was actually a reason for all this bullshit in life? They are happier the way an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand is happier than one looking head on at their impending doom.

  7. Actually, ostriches don't put their heads in the sand. Sorry to shatter the myth!

  8. You have turned my whole world upside down, His Lordship. Next you're going to tell me a watched pot will boil. No wait... let me believe.


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