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Does Christianity enhance your mental health?

Unknown Soldier

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In what ways has Christian faith and practice improved the mental health of believers? I'm very open to any evidence including anecdotal / personal evidence for the mental-health benefits of Christian beliefs. That said, if there are any such benefits, then they are far from obvious. I cannot recall ever being impressed with a person's Christian beliefs or practices leading to them being emotionally stable.

In any case, if Christian beliefs are beneficial to a person's mental health, then it seems reasonable to expect that a very "Christian" person should be very sane. So if that person studies the Bible a lot looking for truths in it, prays very often, attends church regularly, believes that she or he speaks directly to the Father In The Sky (FOTS) and literally hears his voice, then that person should be noticeably more mentally healthy than a Christian who is "lukewarm." And if we look at the other extreme, a person who holds few if any Christian beliefs risks mental illness, and we should expect such a person to exhibit signs of mental illness unless that person belongs to another religion.

One way to help clarify this issue is to study mental health in cultures that are either very Christian or not very Christian and compare the two kinds of cultures. If the Christian cultures have a significantly larger percentage of mentally healthy people than the non-Christian cultures, then that evidence argues for the health benefits of Christianity. For example, we could compare people's mental health in the Bible belt and compare that mental health to relatively non-Christian parts of the country like New England.

Personally, I found that as a Christian my mental health was actually harmed by Christian beliefs and practices. I became paranoid believing in a wrathful FOTS who could cast me into a lake of fire. I even experienced nightmares about God. When I told my pastor what was happening to me, he only seemed concerned that I maintain my faith. If any person asked him if Christian faith is good for a person psychologically, then I'm sure he would have said yes!
 

Wiploc

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A Christian friend of mine went out into her back yard. While she was out there, her family went out into the front yard. My friend, upon reentering the house and finding it empty, thought she had missed the Rapture. Imagine her terror.

Another friend thought he had committed the unforgivable sin of dissing the holy ghost. He thought he was therefore Hellbound, and that there was nothing even god could do about it.

Everybody's got problems, but it seems to me that Christians have extra problems on top of the normal ones.
 

Keith&Co.

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Guy on my first boat never beat off due to sin. Never watched the movies if there might be nudity.
No female stimulation in his life anywhere, stopped having wet dreams. Sperm rotted in his balls, body got rid of it. He woke up to find 'seamy, yellowish discharge' in his boxers.
Became convinced the other guys' TALK had gotten him a case of STD. Verbal-nereal Disease.
After those Navy hygiene movies, feared it was gonna turn black and rot off.
And of course, too humiliated to tell anyone....
 

Politesse

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Does Christianity enhance your mental health?

I think so, but it doesn't occur in a vaccuum. It's hard to isolate a single cause in something as complicated as your overall mental state, especially when you are also treating your condition by other means. I definitely don't find its effects to be harmful, and I know for certain that I start skipping church services (and other social gatherings) when my depression is getting worse. Doing so inevitably perpetuates the negative cycle, it's not good for me to be alone when I am in such moods.

I don't much relate to the bulk of your post, and would not be interested in trying to defend the proposition that Christianity is uniquely or exclusively suitable as mental health care, as I don't think that is true. There is some fairly strong empirical evidence that religious participation in general is good for mental health outcomes, but these benefits aren't partisan in character, it seems that all religious communities connote the observed benefits. Intentional atheism as well; it's non-participating people within religious traditions and "nones" who underperform relative to the highly religious.
 

Politesse

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Guy on my first boat never beat off due to sin. Never watched the movies if there might be nudity.
No female stimulation in his life anywhere, stopped having wet dreams. Sperm rotted in his balls, body got rid of it. He woke up to find 'seamy, yellowish discharge' in his boxers.
Became convinced the other guys' TALK had gotten him a case of STD. Verbal-nereal Disease.

Sounds more like a urinary tract infection to me.
 

Unknown Soldier

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A Christian friend of mine went out into her back yard. While she was out there, her family went out into the front yard. My friend, upon reentering the house and finding it empty, thought she had missed the Rapture. Imagine her terror.

Another friend thought he had committed the unforgivable sin of dissing the holy ghost. He thought he was therefore Hellbound, and that there was nothing even god could do about it.

Everybody's got problems, but it seems to me that Christians have extra problems on top of the normal ones.

Thank you for those examples of how Christianity can cause emotional distress. I think that Christianity can have positive emotional effects resulting from belief in a savior-God and eternal bliss in heaven, but it can also have very negative effects resulting from fear of a wrathful God and eternal damnation. Your Christian friend feared that she would suffer in the great tribulation being "left behind" to live seven years under the anti-Christ and for no other reason than that she momentarily lost sight of her family! Your other friend is even less fortunate suffering continual emotional distress resulting from his Christian beliefs with no end in sight to that distress.

So yes, as you say everybody is vulnerable to emotional upset, but Christianity often adds more reasons to get upset. Happy smiles are just a few words away from angry scowls or eyes wide with fear.
 

ideologyhunter

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Atheist here. Worked at a church camp for six summers (ages 16 to 21.) I would bet that the actuarial tables look better for the group that made up the camp staff than the more general population of my high school. It was a non-doctrinaire camp overall, with various degrees of piety among the staffers, and while I was there, no hellfire stuff. One study I called up on google claims that those who regularly attend religious services live an average of four years longer than non-attendees. Possible reasons were social interaction, positive attitudes, better health habits. Squares live longer than hipsters.
My impression of the hyper religious -- the most orthodox born-agains, for want of a sharper description -- is that many, or most of them, are secure in their afterlife destination. Hell happens to The Others. I've heard exactly this sentiment in recent weeks. From a born-again friend who is struggling in the part-time employment triple-job economy: "Things are rough, and someday God is just going to take me away." From a super-devout cousin who just lost a parent: "The important thing is being sure of where ---- will spend eternity. We've all got to face the fact that this life is just a springboard to eternity, and we better make sure of where we'll go." This promise they imagine they have with God can be psychologically stabilizing. As an atheist I'm always going to be an outsider to the happy club, but I may be okay on the actuarial odds, because I exercise like a son of a bitch, am vegetarian, and use humor as my stabilizer. If Jehovah God doesn't fracture my cranium with a big falling tree branch, I may live to attend that friend & cousin's funerals -- with a pious look plastered on my face.
 

Keith&Co.

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Guy on my first boat never beat off due to sin. Never watched the movies if there might be nudity.
No female stimulation in his life anywhere, stopped having wet dreams. Sperm rotted in his balls, body got rid of it. He woke up to find 'seamy, yellowish discharge' in his boxers.
Became convinced the other guys' TALK had gotten him a case of STD. Verbal-nereal Disease.

Sounds more like a urinary tract infection to me.

Kid got a prescription to masturbate out of it. Only one i ever saw.
We lzminated it for him and taught him the ettiquette of the porn locker.
 

Unknown Soldier

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One study I called up on google claims that those who regularly attend religious services live an average of four years longer than non-attendees. Possible reasons were social interaction, positive attitudes, better health habits. Squares live longer than hipsters.

For those who regularly attend church, they are obviously healthy enough and fit enough to get there. So it seems to me that attending church doesn't cause good health but for some people is an effect of good health.

My impression of the hyper religious -- the most orthodox born-agains, for want of a sharper description -- is that many, or most of them, are secure in their afterlife destination. Hell happens to The Others. I've heard exactly this sentiment in recent weeks. From a born-again friend who is struggling in the part-time employment triple-job economy: "Things are rough, and someday God is just going to take me away." From a super-devout cousin who just lost a parent: "The important thing is being sure of where ---- will spend eternity. We've all got to face the fact that this life is just a springboard to eternity, and we better make sure of where we'll go." This promise they imagine they have with God can be psychologically stabilizing.

Some other Christians are not so sure they will make it to heaven. We are told that Jesus preached that some will be sure they are heaven-bound only to have their hoped-for savior tell them to depart from him because he never knew them.

As an atheist I'm always going to be an outsider to the happy club...

Happiness is overrated. A drunken man can be happy, but I don't envy his happiness. My top priority is to be the man I think I should be no matter how miserable it makes me feel.
 

Unknown Soldier

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There is some fairly strong empirical evidence that religious participation in general is good for mental health outcomes, but these benefits aren't partisan in character, it seems that all religious communities connote the observed benefits. Intentional atheism as well; it's non-participating people within religious traditions and "nones" who underperform relative to the highly religious.

I wonder what doctrines in particular make people happy. Thomas Aquinas said that people in heaven will be able to see the damned being tormented in hell and rejoice as a result of not sharing their fate. That doesn't appeal to me at all.
 

steve_bank

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There have been psychological studies that show religious faith can improve mental health. Reduces stress and worry.

An example. A black friend of mine in his 70s grew up in Jim Crow Louisiana. I have listened to his stories. Someone he knew was lynched for trying to register at college. Being called nigger by whites even teachers as a matter of course.

Through it all it was faith that kept him positive. He is one of the most positive people I have known. He has not a trace of bittiness and anger towards anyone. Religion remains a community focal point for blacks.

A woman I met in my building has end stage cancer. A lot of pain and near the end. She is sustained by faith. A guy I nnow grew up Russian Orthodox. He's not really religious but the rituals help him, Hodgkin's lymphoma. Of late he has trouble walking.

The opposite would be the cynical atheist who sees nothing good. Relgion is not a requiremnt for mental health, but it help many. Of course the counter argument is the craziness religion can foster, but then the same can be said of pop culture and our modern destructive drug culture. Social media is helpful to some harmful to others.

It is not necessarily about faith, it is also about rituals that from a structure to live within.


We all have rituals. Following sports is a ritual. Monday Night Football became a national ritual. People talked about it during the week. The new Seattle hocking team created instant fans and followers without having played a game. Pop music concerts take on the form of a religious meeting.

Many rituals like gardening, playing chess. Groups who religiously meet weekly to play cards.

As I like to say religion is one manifestation of a fundamental human characteristic. Take away religion and people will fill ythe vacuum with new rituals. Like the rise of pop music cults.
 

Unknown Soldier

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As I like to say religion is one manifestation of a fundamental human characteristic. Take away religion and people will fill ythe vacuum with new rituals. Like the rise of pop music cults.

I used to wear an Ozzy Osbourne t-shirt, and upon seeing it a man told me that Ozzy is God. Ozzy did a lot of sick things and was severely criticized for it especially by self-righteous Christians, but those Christians worship a God who killed people. "Let the Christian who is without the sin of lauding a killer God cast the first stone at Ozzy."
 

Learner

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Is there such a thing as 'good people' (not necessarily religious) ever having the reasons to kill other people?

Has it happened? Does it happen? Would this be acceptable in your mind, when there's NO option in war, or defending one's self, or when applying this, to be of some reasonable lawful justice? I'd say yes, it IS acceptable today!

We won't agree here, but this is pretty much similar in my view, to outlining the Israelites who were commanded by God to keep themselves in check, so to speak (when sometimes going the opposite, to their demise) or to protect themselves from their enemies.

(BTW a little late but welcome aboard US)
 
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southernhybrid

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Religion, imo, is just like all made up beliefs or organizations. For some people, it offers hope and purpose, while for others, it causes pain and cognitive dissonance.

As one who grew up in an evangelical home, I can attest that Christianity caused me emotional pain, and cognitive dissonance, eventually leading to my atheism. For others, like a very poor, Black friend of mine, it offers purpose and hope. Sure, it's false hope, but if people never realize that there is no heaven and that a god isn't watching over them and protecting them, I don't see the harm in that.

We all find different ways of maintaining our mental health, but some of us are predisposed to mental illness, anxiety, depression etc. Religion can't change that, but in some cases, having a community where you are supported and loved, can at least lessen the pain acquired from those problems.

That's how this strong atheist views religion. I just would like to see all religions become more progressive, and more humane. If Christians followed the more positive teachings of their savior, that would be better for all of us. I just don't see that happen very often these days. But, I do wonder if my sweet, poor Christian friend would have more emotional struggles in her life, if she didn't have her church community and her beliefs. She is the only friend of mine, who was never told I'm an atheist. She has probably figured out by now that I'm not religious, but I see no need to tell her that I don't believe in her god, as that might cause her more emotional pain. I could never hurt this dear woman, and since her beliefs seem to bring out the best in her, and help her cope, it's best to allow her not to have to worry about her white, godless friend. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Then again, perhaps she is the type of person who judges others based on their characters and not on their beliefs. That is how I tend to see others. I don't care what they believe as long as they don't use those beliefs to harm or judge others.
 
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Rhea

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I find the benefits of religion to be far too inconsistent to claim they are from religion.

Most of the studies that show religion as a benefit take care to note that it is the religious community that provides the benefit, not the act of belief or faith. It’s the act of being with other humans in a mutually supportive community.

So if the community of faith is not supportive (like hellfire and brimstone) it does not contribute to positive mental health. And if it is too fractured to be mutual, it does not contribute to positive mental health.

In other words, the god and the doctrine is irrelevant and unuseful. Put another way, no, it does not appear that “Christianity enhances your mental health.” Rather, a regular, communal, supportive group enhances your mental health. The more regular and the more supportive and the more communal, the better - until doctrine poisons it, which Christianity has many built-in mechanisms, unfortunately, to do.
 

ideologyhunter

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Agree with a lot of #15. It's risible when believers (in my experience, many Christians) talk up religion as if, without it, they (or more likely, 'most of us') would be burglars, rapists, and razor murderers, because there'd be nothing to stop them. How's that for an image of basic humanity?
 

Elixir

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Of course.
ALL my imaginary friends enhance my mental health!
(Right, gang?)
 

Learner

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Agree with a lot of #15. It's risible when believers (in my experience, many Christians) talk up religion as if, without it, they (or more likely, 'most of us') would be burglars, rapists, and razor murderers, because there'd be nothing to stop them. How's that for an image of basic humanity?

Yes, it is not unheard of, that a lot of individuals who have come out of prison, have changed from their old particular ways, due to their new found faith, while being inside. Or things like reading those headlines like for example "Ex-gang member becomes a pastor, preaching the Gospel on his Harley Davidson..." there's been a few of those I believe.
 

steve_bank

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As I like to say religion is one manifestation of a fundamental human characteristic. Take away religion and people will fill ythe vacuum with new rituals. Like the rise of pop music cults.

I used to wear an Ozzy Osbourne t-shirt, and upon seeing it a man told me that Ozzy is God. Ozzy did a lot of sick things and was severely criticized for it especially by self-righteous Christians, but those Christians worship a God who killed people. "Let the Christian who is without the sin of lauding a killer God cast the first stone at Ozzy."

Ozzie was and I presume is still a sick puppy, seeing as you invoke mental health. Like I said take away religion and the vacuum gets filled. People take on the persona of a band or musician. It is just as illusory as religion. Do you think Mick Jagger is anything like his on stage raggedy anti system image? In reality he parlayed the bands money making them all wealthy. Jagger became a financial player in Europe. The Rolling Stones are an act.

The tragic Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin are elevated to pop culture mystical icons despite being self destructive and having bad ends. Kurt Cobain blew his head off with a shotgun.

Is pop culture mentally healthy? I'd say no. Pure escapism, as is religion.

In the 60s Bob Dylan was raised to a counter culture prophet, which he publicly distanced himself from. When he went electric at a Newport Folk festival his followers were devastated. Dylan was always a stage act. In a film clip from a documentary he is in a room with Joan Baez typing. He comments that his lyrics are going to drive people crazy. Dylan the anti system counter culture hero also became rich.

Jesus apologist - Ozzie apologist same principle. You defend your identity.
 

southernhybrid

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I find the benefits of religion to be far too inconsistent to claim they are from religion.

Most of the studies that show religion as a benefit take care to note that it is the religious community that provides the benefit, not the act of belief or faith. It’s the act of being with other humans in a mutually supportive community.

So if the community of faith is not supportive (like hellfire and brimstone) it does not contribute to positive mental health. And if it is too fractured to be mutual, it does not contribute to positive mental health.

In other words, the god and the doctrine is irrelevant and unuseful. Put another way, no, it does not appear that “Christianity enhances your mental health.” Rather, a regular, communal, supportive group enhances your mental health. The more regular and the more supportive and the more communal, the better - until doctrine poisons it, which Christianity has many built-in mechanisms, unfortunately, to do.

Yes. That is mostly what I meant in my post, but for some people, especially those who have very hard lives, I tend to think that their religious beliefs also bring them some peace of mind. Just because I don't totally understand or need that type of thing, doesn't mean that they don't benefit from their beliefs.

My neighbor has all kinds of nutty woo beliefs, which she seems to think help her cope. She doesn't have any community of friends who share her kooky beliefs, as they are totally unrelated to Christianity, a religion she thinks is nuts. She's not sure if there is a god or gods, but she does believe in supernatural elements.

She knows I'm an atheist and I roll my eyes when she tells me something really kooky, but perhaps her life would be even worse if she didn't believe the nutty paganish things that she does. I can't read the minds of others, so it would be wrong of me to say that her beliefs don't help her deal with her chronic anxiety and depression.
 

southernhybrid

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Agree with a lot of #15. It's risible when believers (in my experience, many Christians) talk up religion as if, without it, they (or more likely, 'most of us') would be burglars, rapists, and razor murderers, because there'd be nothing to stop them. How's that for an image of basic humanity?

Yes, it is not unheard of, that a lot of individuals who have come out of prison, have changed from their old particular ways, due to their new found faith, while being inside. Or things like reading those headlines like for example "Ex-gang member becomes a pastor, preaching the Gospel on his Harley Davidson..." there's been a few of those I believe.

I have no doubt that sometimes people are positively influenced by their religion beliefs, but at the same time, many of those who invaded the US capital on January 6th were evangelical Christians, who believed that Trump was sent by god. So, it works both ways, doesn't it?

At least two of the worst offenders on Jan. 6th were very devout Christians. Can you accept that their Christian beliefs may have influenced them to do the horrible things they did? If not, then at least admit that their Christian beliefs failed to keep them from committing the violent things that they did on that day?
 

abaddon

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For some people, it offers hope and purpose, while for others, it causes pain and cognitive dissonance.

And for some, by offering a vain hope it causes pain. They must fully believe in the crazy promises or there's cognitive dissonance.

A friend of mine still grieves her mother's death that happened over a decade ago. She hopes to see her mom again in heaven but wonders if heaven's real, and the doubt adds to the pain of her grief. She could potentially talk happily about her mom, rather than focus on how she might not ever see her mom again, if she'd dealt with the fact of death directly and found ways to honor the memory instead of hoped for something supernatural to magically make everything different than it is.

I side more with the idea that non-avoidance, that facing up, is the more beneficial way to deal with things. It's the fantasy of a better world that makes reality seem more awful than it is, because if we create an imaginary contrast of heaven then the world seems awful by comparison. It's AFTER the fake contrast is made, that people say "if I didn't have my faith then I'd be a wreck!"
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Religion, imo, is just like all made up beliefs or organizations. For some people, it offers hope and purpose, while for others, it causes pain and cognitive dissonance.

As one who grew up in an evangelical home, I can attest that Christianity caused me emotional pain, and cognitive dissonance, eventually leading to my atheism. For others, like a very poor, Black friend of mine, it offers purpose and hope. Sure, it's false hope, but if people never realize that there is no heaven and that a god isn't watching over them and protecting them, I don't see the harm in that.

We all find different ways of maintaining our mental health, but some of us are predisposed to mental illness, anxiety, depression etc. Religion can't change that, but in some cases, having a community where you are supported and loved, can at least lessen the pain acquired from those problems.

That's how this strong atheist views religion. I just would like to see all religions become more progressive, and more humane. If Christians followed the more positive teachings of their savior, that would be better for all of us. I just don't see that happen very often these days. But, I do wonder if my sweet, poor Christian friend would have more emotional struggles in her life, if she didn't have her church community and her beliefs. She is the only friend of mine, who was never told I'm an atheist. She has probably figured out by now that I'm not religious, but I see no need to tell her that I don't believe in her god, as that might cause her more emotional pain. I could never hurt this dear woman, and since her beliefs seem to bring out the best in her, and help her cope, it's best to allow her not to have to worry about her white, godless friend. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Then again, perhaps she is the type of person who judges others based on their characters and not on their beliefs. That is how I tend to see others. I don't care what they believe as long as they don't use those beliefs to harm or judge others.

I think it's very much like a child believing in Santa. Given the child's limited experiences and knowledge Santa belief makes a lot of sense and is likely helpful. But I doubt such a belief in and of itself does anything for emotional improvement. It's just another component of the whole package.

Even placebos are known to benefit for some people.
 

Learner

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Agree with a lot of #15. It's risible when believers (in my experience, many Christians) talk up religion as if, without it, they (or more likely, 'most of us') would be burglars, rapists, and razor murderers, because there'd be nothing to stop them. How's that for an image of basic humanity?

Yes, it is not unheard of, that a lot of individuals who have come out of prison, have changed from their old particular ways, due to their new found faith, while being inside. Or things like reading those headlines like for example "Ex-gang member becomes a pastor, preaching the Gospel on his Harley Davidson..." there's been a few of those I believe.

I have no doubt that sometimes people are positively influenced by their religion beliefs, but at the same time, many of those who invaded the US capital on January 6th were evangelical Christians, who believed that Trump was sent by god. So, it works both ways, doesn't it?

As you describe it, I can agree with 'both ways' (depending on each individual). Which was why I was highlighting the viewpoint; where religion CAN be helpful.

At least two of the worst offenders on Jan. 6th were very devout Christians. Can you accept that their Christian beliefs may have influenced them to do the horrible things they did? If not, then at least admit that their Christian beliefs failed to keep them from committing the violent things that they did on that day?

Firstly the two worst offenders as devout Christians: It seems to me, they were more 'politically' devout than they were being devout Christians, from what you say.

Secondly, about their "Christian beliefs failed them," as you're putting it ... "I'd say they failed 'the Christian belief."
 

Rhea

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Of course it can be helpful. Anecdotes exist. And it can be very very destructive (Andrea Yates).

Which was my point. It is not consistent, it does not have a pattern of doing good. It is no better than random. What’s not random is that human community is beneficial.

Religion does not have a track record for good.
 

steve_bank

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Of course it can be helpful. Anecdotes exist. And it can be very very destructive (Andrea Yates).

Which was my point. It is not consistent, it does not have a pattern of doing good. It is no better than random. What’s not random is that human community is beneficial.

Religion does not have a track record for good.

My response is always how can you separate out religion from everything else?

Our American hyper nationalism and sense of superiority has gotten us mired in constant conflict. Our political divsins are far more harmful the religion. I'd add pop culture as well, gross 24/7 consumption and gratification.

In the American colonies a church was the center of a community. It provided social services of the day.

There are positives and negatives to religion along with unions for an example.

Who needs god when I can talk to a mental health bot app on my phone...sarcasm.
 

southernhybrid

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Religion, imo, is just like all made up beliefs or organizations. For some people, it offers hope and purpose, while for others, it causes pain and cognitive dissonance.

As one who grew up in an evangelical home, I can attest that Christianity caused me emotional pain, and cognitive dissonance, eventually leading to my atheism. For others, like a very poor, Black friend of mine, it offers purpose and hope. Sure, it's false hope, but if people never realize that there is no heaven and that a god isn't watching over them and protecting them, I don't see the harm in that.

We all find different ways of maintaining our mental health, but some of us are predisposed to mental illness, anxiety, depression etc. Religion can't change that, but in some cases, having a community where you are supported and loved, can at least lessen the pain acquired from those problems.

That's how this strong atheist views religion. I just would like to see all religions become more progressive, and more humane. If Christians followed the more positive teachings of their savior, that would be better for all of us. I just don't see that happen very often these days. But, I do wonder if my sweet, poor Christian friend would have more emotional struggles in her life, if she didn't have her church community and her beliefs. She is the only friend of mine, who was never told I'm an atheist. She has probably figured out by now that I'm not religious, but I see no need to tell her that I don't believe in her god, as that might cause her more emotional pain. I could never hurt this dear woman, and since her beliefs seem to bring out the best in her, and help her cope, it's best to allow her not to have to worry about her white, godless friend. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Then again, perhaps she is the type of person who judges others based on their characters and not on their beliefs. That is how I tend to see others. I don't care what they believe as long as they don't use those beliefs to harm or judge others.

I think it's very much like a child believing in Santa. Given the child's limited experiences and knowledge Santa belief makes a lot of sense and is likely helpful. But I doubt such a belief in and of itself does anything for emotional improvement. It's just another component of the whole package.

Even placebos are known to benefit for some people.

As one of our former posters once said, "God is Santa Claus for adults". So, it's obvious that some people need to believe in Santas well beyond childhood. I can only give anecdotal evidence but I think that it helps some people, based on what some of my Christian friends tell me. I can't read their minds so it would be arrogant of me to think they aren't being truthful. Plus, as has been mentioned, without their beliefs, they would have no community or social support, which most people, other than perhaps some extreme introverts, need to live a satisfying life.
 

southernhybrid

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I have no doubt that sometimes people are positively influenced by their religion beliefs, but at the same time, many of those who invaded the US capital on January 6th were evangelical Christians, who believed that Trump was sent by god. So, it works both ways, doesn't it?

As you describe it, I can agree with 'both ways' (depending on each individual). Which was why I was highlighting the viewpoint; where religion CAN be helpful.

At least two of the worst offenders on Jan. 6th were very devout Christians. Can you accept that their Christian beliefs may have influenced them to do the horrible things they did? If not, then at least admit that their Christian beliefs failed to keep them from committing the violent things that they did on that day?

Firstly the two worst offenders as devout Christians: It seems to me, they were more 'politically' devout than they were being devout Christians, from what you say.

Secondly, about their "Christian beliefs failed them," as you're putting it ... "I'd say they failed 'the Christian belief."

With all due respect, Learner, your Bible tells you not to judge, so I don't think it's fair of you to say that these people failed the Christian belief.

I'm going to quote from a link that described some of the worst invaders of the capital on January 6th for you.


https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/10/16/us/capitol-riot.html



7 And a self-made businessman from Kentucky named Clayton Ray Mullins, 52, described as a well-intentioned person devoted to keeping his small country church afloat. He does not drink, smoke, curse or bother with social media, and prefers old westerns to the news.


On the first Sunday of 2021, Mr. Mullins arrived at the church before anyone else, as always, and made sure everything was just so — down to placing a water glass at the pulpit for the morning’s preacher. The next day, Jan. 4, he began the two-day drive with his wife and a sister to a place he’d never been: Washington.

I still think that his beliefs failed him. His beliefs failed him from living a moral life.


They say they thought this might be their last chance to experience a Trump rally. They say they had no intention of rioting or trespassing to keep Mr. Trump in office.

Even if this were true, why did Mr. Mullins join the mob overrunning the Capitol grounds? Why was he standing so close to the violent standoff with the police? Why did he pull on the leg of a downed officer under attack?

Sitting recently in his empty church, so far from Washington, Mr. Mullins began to weep, as the question hung heavy over him, his family, his community, this country.

Why?

There were many others that day flying Christian flags. Imo, this is evidence that taking the things in the Bible as true, doesn't necessarily make you a better person. My late father was a Christian, but he was also an abusive parent, and a very troubled man who suffered from anxiety and depression well after becoming "saved". His beliefs may have helped him make more friends, but they also made the childhood of his children much harder, imo. You may feel that you benefit from your beliefs, and I'm not refuting that. I'm just refuting the idea that such beliefs are good for everyone, or that they help people be more ethical.
 

rousseau

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Does eating food make you healthier? It depends on the type of food, and how much.

Similarly, 'Christianity' doesn't exist as a monolith, you need to be specific about which type you're talking about, and how that type fits into the culture that holds it, and even then you're looking at the interplay with unique individuals. A quick Google search lists 2.3 billion Christians in the world, so surely a generalization about every single one of those people is going to be incomplete.

Atheists will want to take the opportunity to point out negative aspects of Christianity, fair enough, but the reality is considerably more complex than any quick analysis.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Does eating food make you healthier? It depends on the type of food, and how much.

Similarly, 'Christianity' doesn't exist as a monolith, you need to be specific about which type you're talking about, and how that type fits into the culture that holds it, and even then you're looking at the interplay with unique individuals. A quick Google search lists 2.3 billion Christians in the world, so surely a generalization about every single one of those people is going to be incomplete.

Atheists will want to take the opportunity to point out negative aspects of Christianity, fair enough, but the reality is considerably more complex than any quick analysis.

Many humans obviously retain a need to invent and worship some kind of all powerful thing that has all the answers and requires absolute obedience. Doesn't matter if it's a god, a king, a tribe, or some manifestation of woo that gives them comfort, something that satisfies that impulsive, primal desire and need to express subjugation and loyalty. In the end we're probably best served to worship a healthy prefontal cortex, that part of the brain that tamps down and dampens those primitive behaviors.
 

steve_bank

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To continue the food metaphor, there is food that keeps you healthy and food that leads to obesity and heart disease.

Junk food religion vs fruit and vegetables religion?
 

Keith&Co.

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Further the metaphor further, since my gall bladder was removed, and my diabetes diagnosis, and my kidney disease, the effort to determine if food is good or bad is a lot more complicated. Good for (a hypothetical ) you is not necessarily good for me. I cannot gain the same benefits that (hypothetical) you may enjoy from a certain dish.
And some people insisting i would really benefit from their favorite dish are just not paying attention.
 

Wiploc

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To continue the food metaphor, there is food that keeps you healthy and food that leads to obesity and heart disease.

Junk food religion vs fruit and vegetables religion?


My point of view: Religion is inherently junk. The world would be better off if we all ate more vegetables and less religion.
 

Jarhyn

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To continue the food metaphor, there is food that keeps you healthy and food that leads to obesity and heart disease.

Junk food religion vs fruit and vegetables religion?


My point of view: Religion is inherently junk. The world would be better off if we all ate more vegetables and less religion.

I'm with you there. Mostly it's because the nutrients in this "analogical food" are exactly the principles and frameworks which are founded on painstaking investigation and formal thought.

Religion is junk because it has all the calories of emotional validation and even some of the ostensible nutrients of positive function... But it lacks the substantive vitamins of reason and basis.

With it, you might be able to survive, but that goiter of axiomatic overgrowth is plain for all to see.
 

ideologyhunter

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This is why humor is rightly the tonic chord of freethinkers. Religion is flapdoodle, but every American town of any size has multiple buildings devoted to it and multiple clerics providing it. There are colleges devoted to it. It's on our money, even though the local flavor of flapdoodle has an alleged issue with mixing money and flapdoodle. You can't become commander in chief of our armed forces without at least pretending to be devoted to the flapdoodle. It's based on ridiculous stories that in any other context would be jeered at, by most adults. And somehow, it's presumed that we have to respect it. I say, let the snark pour forth. Flapdoodle in sight, sir. Shall I fire?
 

steve_bank

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To continue the food metaphor, there is food that keeps you healthy and food that leads to obesity and heart disease.

Junk food religion vs fruit and vegetables religion?


My point of view: Religion is inherently junk. The world would be better off if we all ate more vegetables and less religion.

One man's junk is another man's treasure?

One of the most popular thing in the USA is TV 'pro' wrestling. Even more so in Mexico. I knew a woman who's son worked in it. The matches are scripted at the beginning of the year and adjusted based on fan reactions. People think it is real.

Back in the 90s the guy who started the WWF Ed McMahan made a video showing his limo blowing up. It caused a reaction in the fans who believed it. He is the one who created 'The Rock'. In the wrestling pantheon there are good guys and bad guys.

If you don't know who The Rock is you must be living in a cage. When I was a kid it was Haystack Calhoun and Gorgeous George and Bruno Samarino..

In TV wrestling reality and phantasy become blurred.

It fills a need for some people.

The Soviets tried to eradicate religion and failed. When the Soviets collpsed it srang right back. The Chinese tried to eradicate religion and failed. They pragmatically tried to regulate it and was partially successful. Christianity went underground meeting in homes, 'illegal' unapproved churches.

As to Tibetan Buddhism they decided to presume the authority to appoint the Dali Lama. Same with high level Catholic clerics.

Christianity exists in North Korea.

As a freetthnker I look at things as they are despite what I think and while I reject it and debate it, it appears to fill a human need. Given the long human history of religion I would not use the word junk.

When I was starting as an engineer and was Having some trouble someone told me 'You can not apply engineering logic to people'. I found he was right. If you try to frame human behavior in scientific logic and reason us humans will never make sense.

Prostitution and religion both fill a need, and both go back to early civilizations.

Personally I consider pop culture inclusive of music and video 'junk'.
 

Wiploc

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My point of view: Religion is inherently junk. The world would be better off if we all ate more vegetables and less religion.

The Soviets tried to eradicate religion and failed. When the Soviets collpsed it srang right back.

That doesn't contradict my simile. If government tried to eradicate junk food, that would spring right back too.
 

Learner

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When there was no religion or limited religion was it "better" then ... Soviet style, Berlin waller etc..?

Some people like brussell sprouts, others avoid them but still eat other vegetables. ;)
 

rousseau

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My point of view: Religion is inherently junk. The world would be better off if we all ate more vegetables and less religion.

The Soviets tried to eradicate religion and failed. When the Soviets collpsed it srang right back.

That doesn't contradict my simile. If government tried to eradicate junk food, that would spring right back too.

Do we want to live in a world where people aren't free to make their own choices / believe what they want to? Should every part of a culture be about efficiency / logic?

One of the contradictions in the anti-religion argument is that the conclusion of scientific thought is that human behaviour doesn't work in the benefit of the species, and yet we still hold onto the idea that we're evolving away from religion on the march of social progress. Science tells us that religious-thinking is an intrinsic part of our world, and yet those who embrace science don't seem to understand this point. To me this comes across as just another version of dogma, rather than the actual practice of scientific deduction and following evidence to a sound conclusion.

I get why people might want to complain about religion, and I understand how living in a world with completely unreasonable people is a bit jarring. But to me there's more peace and beauty in seeing it as it is, than falling under the delusion that religion is an accident / defect of our history.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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That doesn't contradict my simile. If government tried to eradicate junk food, that would spring right back too.

Do we want to live in a world where people aren't free to make their own choices / believe what they want to? Should every part of a culture be about efficiency / logic?

One of the contradictions in the anti-religion argument is that the conclusion of scientific thought is that human behaviour doesn't work in the benefit of the species, and yet we still hold onto the idea that we're evolving away from religion on the march of social progress. Science tells us that religious-thinking is an intrinsic part of our world, and yet those who embrace science don't seem to understand this point. To me this comes across as just another version of dogma, rather than the actual practice of scientific deduction and following evidence to a sound conclusion.

I get why people might want to complain about religion, and I understand how living in a world with completely unreasonable people is a bit jarring. But to me there's more peace and beauty in seeing it as it is, than falling under the delusion that religion is an accident / defect of our history.

People of a rational, scientific bent understand the draw of magic and fantasy. If a kid can believe in magic, certainly adults can as well. It's just brain architecture and exposure, easy enough to understand.
 

Wiploc

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That doesn't contradict my simile. If government tried to eradicate junk food, that would spring right back too.

Do we want to live in a world where people aren't free to make their own choices / believe what they want to?

What part of, "If government tried to eradicate junk food, that would spring right back too," suggested to you that I favor government trying to eradicate junk food?



Should every part of a culture be about efficiency / logic?

??? That's in response to what? If I'd said that there would be less death and suffering if we'd started responding to global warming sooner, would you have made the same response?



One of the contradictions in the anti-religion argument is that the conclusion of scientific thought is that human behaviour doesn't work in the benefit of the species, and yet we still hold onto the idea that we're evolving away from religion on the march of social progress. Science tells us that religious-thinking is an intrinsic part of our world, and yet those who embrace science don't seem to understand this point. To me this comes across as just another version of dogma, rather than the actual practice of scientific deduction and following evidence to a sound conclusion.

Are you trying to say that we'd be worse off if we ate more vegetables?



I get why people might want to complain about religion, and I understand how living in a world with completely unreasonable people is a bit jarring. But to me there's more peace and beauty in seeing it as it is, than falling under the delusion that religion is an accident / defect of our history.

I really don't know what you're on about.
 

DrZoidberg

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In what ways has Christian faith and practice improved the mental health of believers? I'm very open to any evidence including anecdotal / personal evidence for the mental-health benefits of Christian beliefs. That said, if there are any such benefits, then they are far from obvious. I cannot recall ever being impressed with a person's Christian beliefs or practices leading to them being emotionally stable.

In any case, if Christian beliefs are beneficial to a person's mental health, then it seems reasonable to expect that a very "Christian" person should be very sane. So if that person studies the Bible a lot looking for truths in it, prays very often, attends church regularly, believes that she or he speaks directly to the Father In The Sky (FOTS) and literally hears his voice, then that person should be noticeably more mentally healthy than a Christian who is "lukewarm." And if we look at the other extreme, a person who holds few if any Christian beliefs risks mental illness, and we should expect such a person to exhibit signs of mental illness unless that person belongs to another religion.

One way to help clarify this issue is to study mental health in cultures that are either very Christian or not very Christian and compare the two kinds of cultures. If the Christian cultures have a significantly larger percentage of mentally healthy people than the non-Christian cultures, then that evidence argues for the health benefits of Christianity. For example, we could compare people's mental health in the Bible belt and compare that mental health to relatively non-Christian parts of the country like New England.

Personally, I found that as a Christian my mental health was actually harmed by Christian beliefs and practices. I became paranoid believing in a wrathful FOTS who could cast me into a lake of fire. I even experienced nightmares about God. When I told my pastor what was happening to me, he only seemed concerned that I maintain my faith. If any person asked him if Christian faith is good for a person psychologically, then I'm sure he would have said yes!

A bit more than a year ago I started going with my Christian girlfriend to church on Sundays. Mostly to practice my Danish. But I like it. It's like an hours meditation. I like the ritual of it. I also like the sermons. In Denmark sermons are written by the central church authority and distributed. So they're all the same all over Denmark. What this allows is for a team of writers to put together excellent sermons. They're always deep and thoughtful. Denmark has a state religion. There's no church/state separation. And this is the state church. I've been very impressed so far. I like how they're so inclusive.

This is the closest church to Christiania. Which is the freetown where drugs are legalized. So there's a lot of homeless people and drug addicts in the area. I've always been impressed with how respectfully they treat these broken, and high people. They always treat them with respect no matter how they behave.

Here's the church.
https://www.vorfrelserskirke.dk/

What's the most interesting about this church is how beautiful it is. Interesting because this church was built in a place that at the time was a slum. It's much nicer than the Copenhagen Cathedral. It's a nice touch. There's quite a lot of good things about Christianity.
 

Unknown Soldier

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Of course it can be helpful. Anecdotes exist. And it can be very very destructive (Andrea Yates).

Which was my point. It is not consistent, it does not have a pattern of doing good. It is no better than random. What’s not random is that human community is beneficial.

Religion does not have a track record for good.

Yes! That's a very astute observation. Since the probabilities of good and bad psychological outcomes from Christian beliefs and practices are about the same, then as you say those outcomes appear to be random and cannot be credited to or blamed on Christianity without further investigation. Most apologetics I've seen lauding the supposed positive health effects of Christianity don't seem to consider what actually causes the good health that some Christians experience.

Besides, if all that Christianity can show is good mental health effects on it members, then it appears that apologists have given up on more striking evidence for Christianity.
 

steve_bank

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My point of view: Religion is inherently junk. The world would be better off if we all ate more vegetables and less religion.

The Soviets tried to eradicate religion and failed. When the Soviets collpsed it srang right back.

That doesn't contradict my simile. If government tried to eradicate junk food, that would spring right back too.

Junk food junkies, junk religion junkies. junk music junkies...etc,etc,etc. Freedom to consume the junk unhealthy stuff mental and physical of your choice is a cornerstone of western liberal democracy.

I support tye right to live on eating Twinkies and pizza, and the right to junk beliefs.
 

Jarhyn

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That doesn't contradict my simile. If government tried to eradicate junk food, that would spring right back too.

Junk food junkies, junk religion junkies. junk music junkies...etc,etc,etc. Freedom to consume the junk unhealthy stuff mental and physical of your choice is a cornerstone of western liberal democracy.

I support tye right to live on eating Twinkies and pizza, and the right to junk beliefs.

Indeed. But I also support persistently offering not-junk for a time in a compulsory setting, that people may come to the realization that while junk tastes good now, the regrets are not worth it in the longer term.
 

steve_bank

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That doesn't contradict my simile. If government tried to eradicate junk food, that would spring right back too.

Junk food junkies, junk religion junkies. junk music junkies...etc,etc,etc. Freedom to consume the junk unhealthy stuff mental and physical of your choice is a cornerstone of western liberal democracy.

I support tye right to live on eating Twinkies and pizza, and the right to junk beliefs.

Indeed. But I also support persistently offering not-junk for a time in a compulsory setting, that people may come to the realization that while junk tastes good now, the regrets are not worth it in the longer term.

We learn by pain and failure not knowing the future. In our schizophrenic culture food companies market both junk food and weight loss meals.

Today the junk aspects of culture are ingrained in kids from advertising at an early age.

There is perhaps a bit of sarcasm in my post. Us hyper individualistic Americans think we have a god given right to self destructive behavior. I hear it in the news, people saying I am an American and nobody tells me to wear a mask.

Same with junk religion. People use the First Amendment to justify most anything. I knew somebody in the 80s who said he does not worry about what he eats or does to the environment, god will protect hum. Junk religion as Wiploc coined. On the other hand there is a growing Christian movement of stewardship of god's creation.
 

SigmatheZeta

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Generally, I am rooted in both ancient Epicurean and ancient Pyrrhonist sentiments, although I am somewhat sympathetic toward the intentions behind ancient Cynicism.
In what ways has Christian faith and practice improved the mental health of believers? I'm very open to any evidence including anecdotal / personal evidence for the mental-health benefits of Christian beliefs. That said, if there are any such benefits, then they are far from obvious. I cannot recall ever being impressed with a person's Christian beliefs or practices leading to them being emotionally stable.

In any case, if Christian beliefs are beneficial to a person's mental health, then it seems reasonable to expect that a very "Christian" person should be very sane. So if that person studies the Bible a lot looking for truths in it, prays very often, attends church regularly, believes that she or he speaks directly to the Father In The Sky (FOTS) and literally hears his voice, then that person should be noticeably more mentally healthy than a Christian who is "lukewarm." And if we look at the other extreme, a person who holds few if any Christian beliefs risks mental illness, and we should expect such a person to exhibit signs of mental illness unless that person belongs to another religion.

One way to help clarify this issue is to study mental health in cultures that are either very Christian or not very Christian and compare the two kinds of cultures. If the Christian cultures have a significantly larger percentage of mentally healthy people than the non-Christian cultures, then that evidence argues for the health benefits of Christianity. For example, we could compare people's mental health in the Bible belt and compare that mental health to relatively non-Christian parts of the country like New England.

Personally, I found that as a Christian my mental health was actually harmed by Christian beliefs and practices. I became paranoid believing in a wrathful FOTS who could cast me into a lake of fire. I even experienced nightmares about God. When I told my pastor what was happening to me, he only seemed concerned that I maintain my faith. If any person asked him if Christian faith is good for a person psychologically, then I'm sure he would have said yes!
Religion might have actually worked for me if my parents' congregation had not been hypocritical, transphobic, and hostile toward divergent approaches to spirituality. I had already dabbled in western Buddhist philosophy, and at the time, I believed that there was a great deal that Christians could learn from it. I did not find out until later in life that this was becoming a popular line of thinking in more liberal congregations.

Nevertheless, I believe that secular philosophy works better.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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My mental health is helped by an occasional dose of alcohol. Some friends swear that cannabis or nicotine do the same thing. Seeing a crucifix on the other hand makes me feel like shit. I think christianity has two parts, first to make you feel like shit and secondly to make you feel better. The first part is problematic. Those other methods don't have both parts, or maybe they're just reversed.
 

southernhybrid

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My mental health is helped by an occasional dose of alcohol. Some friends swear that cannabis or nicotine do the same thing. Seeing a crucifix on the other hand makes me feel like shit. I think christianity has two parts, first to make you feel like shit and secondly to make you feel better. The first part is problematic. Those other methods don't have both parts, or maybe they're just reversed.
Yeah. I don't get the glorification of someone being brutally crucified either. The older I become, the more discouraged I am when I see anyone wearing a cross around their necks. It just seems so primitive to me. I'm not judging the character of those who wear such symbols, but I don't understand the lure of the blood sacrifice. One would think that by now, society would have moved past such superstitions, and religion would have become far more progressive.

The IRS recognizes secular humanism as a religion. While the principles of humanism are overly idealistic, I think such a secular religion could be a positive, especially when compared to the patriarchal theistic religions. Any progressive version of the old religions would be beneficial as well.

Sadly, UUs and Humanists don't attract nearly as many members compared to the old, more brutal versions of religion. Maybe it has to do with tradition and culture. I don't know, but my Christian friends often seem far more attracted to the love and support they receive from their church communities than their beliefs regarding the supernatural. That makes sense. Being around like minded folks once a week can give one a nice emotional buzz. I guess we each get a little buzz from one thing or another. ;)
 
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