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Author Topic:   Are Atheists Mentally Ill
Admin
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Message 1 of 117 (705111)
08-23-2013 7:21 AM


This is from Message 862 posted over at the Humour VII thread:

Dr Adequate writes:

Could this be the singlest stupidest thing ever written?

Since it seems to have some potential for discussion I'm reposting it here.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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Tangle
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Message 2 of 117 (705114)
08-23-2013 8:23 AM


Wow, so that's why They won't let me out.......

Edited by Tangle, : No reason given.


Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

  
Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 322 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 3 of 117 (705128)
08-23-2013 12:25 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Admin
08-23-2013 7:21 AM


Oh, I don't think it deserves a thread. I just thought it was particularly hapless.

If anyone is that interested, I'll take the article apart piece by piece, but I don't think that's particularly necessary.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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1.61803
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Joined: 02-19-2004


Message 4 of 117 (705130)
08-23-2013 12:29 PM


Atheist can not blame their mental illness on God.

"You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative" William S. Burroughs

  
Stile
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From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
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(5)
Message 5 of 117 (705133)
08-23-2013 12:34 PM


Short Summary
The article basically makes a few claims:

quote:
A vast body of research, amassed over recent decades, shows that religious belief is physically and psychologically beneficial – to a remarkable degree.

The vast body of research includes:
-In 2004, scholars at UCLA revealed that college students involved in religious activities are likely to have better mental health
-In 2006, population researchers at the University of Texas discovered that the more often you go to church, the longer you live
-In 2006, researchers at Duke University in America discovered that religious people have stronger immune systems than the irreligious. They also established that churchgoers have lower blood pressure.
-In 2009, a team of Harvard psychologists discovered that believers who checked into hospital with broken hips reported less depression, had shorter hospital stays, and could hobble further when they left hospital – as compared to their similarly crippled but heathen fellow-sufferers.
-In the last few years scientists have revealed that believers, compared to non-believers, have better outcomes from breast cancer, coronary disease, mental illness, Aids, and rheumatoid arthritis
-Believers get better results from IVF
-Believers report greater levels of happiness, are less likely to commit suicide, and cope with stressful events much better
-Believers have more kids.
-Believers are less likely to smoke, drink or take drugs.
-Religious people are nicer (They give more money to charity than atheists)

The response that immediately comes to my mind:

"The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality."
-- George Bernard Shaw


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Stile
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From: Ontario, Canada
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Message 6 of 117 (705135)
08-23-2013 12:41 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Dr Adequate
08-23-2013 12:25 PM


Meh
Dr Adequate writes:

If anyone is that interested, I'll take the article apart piece by piece, but I don't think that's particularly necessary.

No, I don't think it's necessary unless anyone actually wants to side with the blog.

If everything in the blog was valid, I think it may actually point towards some sort of objective evidence for "believing" over "not-believing."

But I would guess that there are many things here at work:
-some points will simply be incorrect/wrong
-some points will be hand-picked to be misleading when the work was never confirmed (or worse, repeated but not confirmed or even over-turned)
-no mention as to how belief in Christianity does vs. belief in anything else (like love or even another religion)
-the author has bad breath and looks like a bit of a dink


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Rahvin
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Posts: 3966
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 7 of 117 (705138)
08-23-2013 1:31 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Stile
08-23-2013 12:41 PM


Re: Meh
If everything in the blog was valid, I think it may actually point towards some sort of objective evidence for "believing" over "not-believing."

No, it wouldn't. It's just an appeal to consequence - the consequences of a given position, including its desirability, or the effects of holding it, are irrelevant as to whether or not that position is factually accurate.

You'd have objective evidence that belief carries benefits, but that still would not be evidence that the claims of that belief are actually accurate.

Believing one's spouse is not cheating on you has tangible, real benefits - the marriage will be better. But that belief can still be wrong. The benefits don't have anything to do with whether your spouse is actually cheating, they're simply a consequence of the belief that he/she is not. Ignorance can very well be bliss. I know specifically of at least one person who contracted HIV this way.

When considering how an observation affects a hypothesis, you cannot consider that hypothesis in a vacuum. Belief in God might well reduce the incidence of depression...but that not only fits with the hypothesis that God is real - it also fits with the hypothesis that positive beliefs, even if delusional, have an effect on mental state. Just for starters. The observation needs to adjust the relative probability that a given hypothesis is correct; if the observation equally supports a large number of other hypotheses, then the observation is not really evidence of much of anything. In this case, it would be evidence that positive beliefs positively affect mental state, and the relative probability of the root cause being the accuracy of those beliefs vs the root cause being simply that positive beliefs encourage positive moods would be unchanged.

When you examine further and see that believers still suffer from depression, that bad things happen regardless of faith in God, that prayers offer no statistical deviation from "normal" reality, and so on, those observations do strongly affect the relative likelihood of God (at least as typically imagined: as an occasionally-intervening intelligent agent working through unknown methods to reward belief in its existence or respond to pleas for assistance with no limit on ability) existing as compared to hypotheses where no gods (again, as typically imagined) exist.


“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.” - Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers

“A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.” – Albert Camus

"...the pious hope that by combining numerous little turds of variously tainted data, one can obtain a valuable result; but in fact, the outcome is merely a larger than average pile of shit." - Barash, David 1995...

"Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends." - Gandalf, J. R. R. Tolkien: The Lord Of the Rings

Nihil supernum


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Stile, posted 08-23-2013 12:41 PM Stile has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Stile, posted 08-23-2013 2:04 PM Rahvin has replied
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Stile
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Posts: 4076
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


(1)
Message 8 of 117 (705140)
08-23-2013 2:04 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Rahvin
08-23-2013 1:31 PM


The Science Lesson
Rahvin writes:

You'd have objective evidence that belief carries benefits, but that still would not be evidence that the claims of that belief are actually accurate.

Yes, I agree.
You're right.

Even if the prayers of believers were always answered... this would not be objective evidence "for God."
It would be objective evidence that prayers from believers are answered.

Maybe Satan actually answers the prayers... or maybe fairies.
Or, maybe there still isn't any external being at all and prayers are answered as some sort of inherent property of the universe we have yet to understand correctly.

Just saying... it would be an interesting pathway for further investigation

It's sort of like saying "If God exists, then water will drain downhill."
--just because the stated requirements are met, doesn't mean the statement is valid. There needs to be a logical (rational/reasonable) connection between the if/then statement in order to be valid.

"If God exists, then prayers will be answered" seems a lot more reasonable than "If God exists, then water will drain downhill"... but such an if/then statement doesn't show any connection between the two halves. Actual investigation and evidence is required in order to link answered prayers directly to God instead of just a single statement. For one, some evidence that God actually exists before attributing functions to Him would help out.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Rahvin, posted 08-23-2013 1:31 PM Rahvin has replied

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Rahvin
Member (Idle past 233 days)
Posts: 3966
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 9 of 117 (705142)
08-23-2013 2:11 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Stile
08-23-2013 2:04 PM


Re: The Science Lesson
Even if the prayers of believers were always answered... this would not be objective evidence "for God."
It would be objective evidence that prayers from believers are answered.

Maybe Satan actually answers the prayers... or maybe fairies.
Or, maybe there still isn't any external being at all and prayers are answered as some sort of inherent property of the universe we have yet to understand correctly.

Or maybe the prayers are for things that have a high likelihood of happening anyway. If I pray for rain when there are dark clouds overhead, no intelligent mysterious agency is required to answer my prayer - it's been answered before it was even uttered.

Perhaps more poignantly: when someone prays for a positive outcome from a surgery with a 90% success rate, and indeed the surgery passes with no complications and full success...no devil, no fairies, and no gods were required for that prayer to be answered. The doctor did it, and the prayer was irrelevant.

I remember as a child praying for such simply absurdities as finding the correct Lego brick as I searched through the dumped-out contents of my several storage bins. It never occurred to my 9-year-old self that there was a high likelihood that I would find it anyway, or that since I was going to continue to search until I found it, I had guaranteed a favorable "answer" to my prayer regardless.


“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.” - Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers

“A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.” – Albert Camus

"...the pious hope that by combining numerous little turds of variously tainted data, one can obtain a valuable result; but in fact, the outcome is merely a larger than average pile of shit." - Barash, David 1995...

"Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends." - Gandalf, J. R. R. Tolkien: The Lord Of the Rings

Nihil supernum


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 Message 8 by Stile, posted 08-23-2013 2:04 PM Stile has seen this message

  
Stile
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Posts: 4076
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


(1)
Message 10 of 117 (705143)
08-23-2013 2:12 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Rahvin
08-23-2013 1:31 PM


Right as Rain
Rahvin writes:

Stile writes:

If everything in the blog was valid, I think it may actually point towards some sort of objective evidence for "believing" over "not-believing."

No, it wouldn't. It's just an appeal to consequence - the consequences of a given position, including its desirability, or the effects of holding it, are irrelevant as to whether or not that position is factually accurate.

Actually, I re-read this statement.
And, technically, I'm right.

You're assuming that being "factually accurate" about the belief was an intended goal when that is not necessarily derived from my statement.
My statement could have been implying that the data was objective evidence for "believing" over "not-believing" in the pursuit of goals such as "being happier" or "having more children" or other things that were specifically tested for. This would be regardless of the fact of the belief being accurate or not.

If you want to be happier, or have more children... this would be objective evidence that you should be a believer.

This assumes a few strange things:
-the claims made in the blog are valid (this seems trivially incorrect)
-all people are the same/you react the same way "the average person" reacts to the tested situations (personally, I feel rather unique...)
-"being a believer" is a simple choice (I'm not sure that's always possible...)
-probably some more stuff that makes it seem rather silly to think about it this way. But hey, as long as I'm technically correct

Edited by Stile, :


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Replies to this message:
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ringo
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Posts: 19613
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


(1)
Message 11 of 117 (705144)
08-23-2013 2:16 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Admin
08-23-2013 7:21 AM


bare link writes:

Therefore, being an atheist – lacking the vital faculty of faith – should be seen as an affliction, and a tragic deficiency: something akin to blindness.


I didn't read any farther so I don't know how blindness equates to mental illness.

And if memory serves, sometimes the "deficient" Untermenschen defeat the "superior" Ubermenschen. It may be nice to feel Uber but are they really?

Edited by ringo, : Replaced mismatched quotation marks with matching nothing.


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Rahvin
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Posts: 3966
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 12 of 117 (705145)
08-23-2013 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Stile
08-23-2013 2:12 PM


Re: Right as Rain
Actually, I re-read this statement.
And, technically, I'm right.

You're assuming that being "factually accurate" about the belief was an intended goal when that is not necessarily derived from my statement.
My statement could have been implying that the data was objective evidence for "believing" over "not-believing" in the pursuit of goals such as "being happier" or "having more children" or other things that were specifically tested for. This would be regardless of the fact of the belief being accurate or not.

If you want to be happier, or have more children... this would be objective evidence that you should be a believer.

This assumes a few strange things:
-the claims made in the blog are valid (this I highly doubt)
-"being a believer" is a simple choice (I'm not sure that's always possible...)

We're not in disagreement.

But the article is more than strongly implying that "positive results from belief indicate belief is accurate." That's the basis for my argument, since we're speaking in the context of the article.

Furthermore, not all values are equivalent, the reason you used the word "if." For example, I more strongly value truth than happiness or fertility. It's more important to me that I work to ensure that my beliefs accurately reflect reality, wherever that leads, than happiness or more kids or many, many other things. If x is true, then I want to believe that x is true. If ix is not true, then I want to not believe that x is true. That's at nearly the top of my value hierarchy. From a utilitarian standpoint, I would gain less net benefit by being a believer than I do by remaining an atheist - until and unless I'm convinced that God(s) actually do exist. And any actual benefits of belief are irrelevant to that.

Hell, we already knew that there were massive benefits to being a believer...at least in America. The social benefits of membership in a large, recognized religion are not inconsequential, and the negative repercussions of coming out as not being a member of such (whether atheist or simply a smaller or less mainstream faith - Scientology or Mormonism come to mind, depending again on location) can be rather harsh. Obviously it would be easier to find a mate, to find social acceptance, to be happy, and so on, simply from the social effects of belief.


“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.” - Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers

“A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.” – Albert Camus

"...the pious hope that by combining numerous little turds of variously tainted data, one can obtain a valuable result; but in fact, the outcome is merely a larger than average pile of shit." - Barash, David 1995...

"Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends." - Gandalf, J. R. R. Tolkien: The Lord Of the Rings

Nihil supernum


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Stile, posted 08-23-2013 2:12 PM Stile has replied

Replies to this message:
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Stile
Member
Posts: 4076
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


(1)
Message 13 of 117 (705147)
08-23-2013 2:38 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Rahvin
08-23-2013 2:24 PM


Re: Right as Rain
Rahvin writes:

But the article is more than strongly implying that "positive results from belief indicate belief is accurate." That's the basis for my argument, since we're speaking in the context of the article.

For sure.
I'm not denying that my brain took quite an abstract turn into left field. It does that sometimes. I'm supposed to get it looked at.

For example, I more strongly value truth than happiness or fertility.

As you explained, it's quite possible that you can get your happiness from valuing and determining the truth.
"Happiness" is such a vague and subjective term anyway. The amount of happiness you feel from the exact same event can vary with the simple passage of time.
Let alone trying to measure "the amount" of happiness...
It's almost silly to talk about objective evidence regarding an "empirical" study involving subjective happiness. It borders on being an oxymoron.
It requires strict definitions that may not apply to any other situation anyway.

Obviously it would be easier to find a mate, to find social acceptance, to be happy, and so on, simply from the social effects of belief.

Or... we could just wait 'til tomorrow when they'll remember they're persecuted and being a Christian is harder than being an atheist. Study refuted.

Hopefully one day we'll realize that people are just... people.


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Percy
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Posts: 20832
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 14 of 117 (705149)
08-23-2013 3:00 PM


Listing the Issues
Just trying to keep the issues straight:

  1. Is the claim correct that believers are healthier than atheists?

    I have a lot of trouble believing this one just on a demographic basis. Believers as a group are less wealthy than atheists and are more likely to belong to the lower socio-economic classes. Both factors are correlated with poorer health.

    It is well known that participation within a social group is correlated with better health and mental well-being, but atheists have social groups, too. EvC Forum is one.

  2. Even if the claim were true, is it evidence for God?

  3. I followed the links, here they are:

    • the list goes on

      A lengthy list of the benefits of religion, but the word "atheist" appears not once.

    • nicer

      Report on a book presenting evidence that believers are nicer than their "secular counterparts", but points out that what's important is "involvement in a religious community", not belief.

    • meanest of all

      Rated charity giving by faith. From highest to lowest: Muslims, Jews, Protestants, other Christians, Catholics, atheists.

    • hard-wired for faith

      We knew this already.

--Percy


Replies to this message:
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 Message 18 by marc9000, posted 08-23-2013 8:11 PM Percy has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 117 (705152)
08-23-2013 3:27 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Percy
08-23-2013 3:00 PM


Re: Listing the Issues
Here is an article about correlations between health and regular religious service attendance.

http://online.wsj.com/...,SB111507405746322613-email,00.html

quote:
A professor of preventive medicine at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, Dr. Powell was a nonchurch-goer who was very suspicious of such studies. Then in 2001, the National Institutes of Health asked her to lead a three-scientist panel that would review the mounting pile of medical literature purporting to link religion to health.

The panel found scant evidence of the benefit of religion on illness, and found that patients who used religion to cope fared slightly worse than those who didn't.

But the panel's examination of studies showing the effect of church attendance on health reached an altogether different conclusion. As Dr. Powell, who is continuing to research this issue, puts it: "After seeing the data, I think I should go to church."


It is well known that participation within a social group is correlated with better health and mental well-being, but atheists have social groups, too. EvC Forum is one.

EvC is a social group for atheists?

Even if the claim were true, is it evidence for God?

The article I linked to would not suggest that. Apparently, the object of worship is irrelevant.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.
Richard P. Feynman

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
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