Atheism and emotional problems

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An angry atheist speaking to a woman with a Bible in her hand.

The Christian philosopher James S. Spiegel says the path from Christianity to atheism among several of his friends involved moral slippage such as resentment or unforgiveness.[1] See: Atheism and anger

Emotional intelligence "refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions."[2] Research indicates that religiosity is positively associated with ability in emotional intelligence.[3][4][5]

The five components of emotional intelligence are: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Below is material on atheism and emotional problems.

"Emotional atheism": Atheism related to traumatic events

Various studies found that traumatic events in people's lives has a positive correlation with "emotional atheism".[6] See also: Atheism and the problem of evil

Emotional reactions of atheists may reveal echoes of belief

See also: Denials that atheists exist and Atheists doubting the validity of atheism

The Pacific Standard reported:

A recently published study from Finland finds that even atheists have a hard time asking God to harm their loved ones.

The heads and hearts of atheists may not be on precisely the same page. That’s the implication of recently published research from Finland, which finds avowed non-believers become emotionally aroused when daring God to do terrible things.

“The results imply that atheists’ attitudes toward God are ambivalent, in that their explicit beliefs conflict with their affective response,” concludes a research team led by University of Helsinki psychologist Marjaana Lindeman. Its study is published in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.[7]

Atheism and anger

See also: Atheism and anger

CNN reports:

People unaffiliated with organized religion, atheists and agnostics also report anger toward God either in the past, or anger focused on a hypothetical image - that is, what they imagined God might be like - said lead study author Julie Exline, Case Western Reserve University psychologist.

In studies on college students, atheists and agnostics reported more anger at God during their lifetimes than believers.[8]

The atheist, lesbian and leftist Greta Christina told the journalist Chris Mooney on the Point of Inquiry podcast, "there isn't one emotion" that affects atheists "but anger is one of the emotions that many of us have ...[it] drives others to participate in the movement".[9]

The American philosopher and atheism advocate Peter Boghossian declared about atheists: “I think the faithful have been propagating a narrative of the angry atheist for so long, and I think that there’s some legitimacy to that... I think it’s really important to have civil, respectful dialogue with people, and we just haven’t been doing that...".[10]

The agnostic Rodney Stark, co-director of Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, commenting on the New Atheism movement said, “The religious people don’t care about the irreligious people, but the irreligious are prickly. I think they’re just angry.”[11]

Theodore Beale declared:"...the age at which most people become atheists indicates that it is almost never an intellectual decision, but an emotional one."[12]

The Christian apologist Ken Ammi concurs in his essay The Argument for Atheism from Immaturity and writes: "It is widely known that some atheists rejected God in their childhood, based on child like reasons, have not matured beyond these childish notions and thus, maintain childish-emotional reactions toward the idea of God."[13]

Historically speaking, atheists have been the biggest mass murders in history (see: Atheism and mass murder and Abortion and atheism).

Atheism and hatred of God

See also: Atheism and hatred of God

The Christian evangelist Ray Comfort contends that atheists hate God because they know that He does exist.[14]

Comfort declared in 2009: "Atheists don't hate fairies, leprauchans or unicorns because they don't exist. It is impossible to hate something that doesn't exist. And that makes the point."[15]

Theophobia is a "morbid fear or hatred of God".[16]

Don Batten of Creation Ministries International wrote:

Recently, I have had a lot of conversations with atheists. Many express a strong hatred of God. I have been at a loss to explain this. How can you hate someone you don’t believe in? Why the hostility? If God does not exist, shouldn’t atheists just relax and seek a good time before they become plant food? Why should it matter if people believe in God? Nothing matters if atheism is true[17]

The Christian evangelist Ray Comfort contends that atheists hate God because they know that He does exist.[18] Comfort declared in 2009: "Atheists don't hate fairies, leprauchans or unicorns because they don't exist. It is impossible to hate something that doesn't exist. And that makes the point."[19]

Jennifer LeClaire, a news editor at Charisma News wrote:

Atheists don’t believe God exists, so why do they get so angry when Christians call them out for it?...

Atheism is rooted in an antichrist spirit that has made man his own God. Atheists have separated themselves from God in this life, yet He still blesses them with an opportunity to repent every day. In the next life—eternal life—atheists won’t be so brazen about insisting God doesn’t exist because they will bow their knee to Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:10; Rom. 14:11) before spending forever apart from His presence in the lake of fire. Calling Christians nasty names and insulting God isn’t going to change that or stop Christians from sharing their faith.

I would challenge every atheist who is reading this article to truly seek God with an open mind. I guarantee if you open your heart, ask Him to reveal Himself to you, and seek Him sincerely, you will find Him.[20]

Atheism and loneliness

See also: Atheism and loneliness

According to an international study done by William Bainbridge, atheism is common among people whose interpersonal social obligations are weak and is also connected to lower fertility rates in advanced industrial nations (See also: Atheism and fertility rates).[21]

Concerning atheism and depression, a University of Michigan study involving 19,775 individuals found that religious people are less likely than atheists to suffer depression when they are lonely.[22] See also: Atheism and suicide

Atheism and depression

See also: Atheism and depression

Atheists have a higher suicide rate than theists.[23] Please see: Atheism and suicide

Concerning atheism and depression, a University of Michigan study involving 19,775 individuals found that religious people are less likely than atheists to suffer depression when they are lonely.[24] See also: Atheism and suicide

The Telegraph reported: "Patients with a strong “intrinsic faith” (a deep personal belief, not just a social inclination to go to a place of worship) recover 70 per cent faster from depression than those who are not deeply religious."[25]

In addition, in many atheistic cultures in the developed world, there are considerable problems with loneliness (see: Atheism and loneliness). Furthermore, many atheists feel isolated within theistic cultures (see: Atheism and social outcasts).

In December 2003, the University of Warwick reported: "Dr. Stephen Joseph, from the University of Warwick, said: "Religious people seem to have a greater purpose in life, which is why they are happier. Looking at the research evidence, it seems that those who celebrate the Christian meaning of Christmas are on the whole likely to be happier."[26]}}

See also: Atheism and happiness and Atheism and Christmas

Atheism and suicide

See also: Atheism and suicide

Atheists have higher suicide rates than theists. See: Atheism and suicide

The website Adherents.com reported concerning atheism and suicide:

Pitzer College sociologist Phil Zuckerman compiled country-by-country survey, polling and census numbers relating to atheism, agnosticism, disbelief in God and people who state they are non-religious or have no religious preference. These data were published in the chapter titled "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns" in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK (2005). In examining various indicators of societal health, Zuckerman concludes about suicide:

"Concerning suicide rates, this is the one indicator of societal health in which religious nations fare much better than secular nations. According to the 2003 World Health Organization's report on international male suicides rates (which compared 100 countries), of the top ten nations with the highest male suicide rates, all but one (Sri Lanka) are strongly irreligious nations with high levels of atheism. It is interesting to note, however, that of the top remaining nine nations leading the world in male suicide rates, all are former Soviet/Communist nations, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Latvia. Of the bottom ten nations with the lowest male suicide rates, all are highly religious nations with statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism."[27]

Atheism and fear

See also: Atheism and anxiety

Atheism and death anxiety

See also: Atheism and death and Atheism and death anxiety and Atheism and cowardice

Wink and Scott study: Irreligious and death anxiety

According to the researchers Wink and Scott, the irreligious fear death more than the very religious, but fear it less than the lukewarm/moderately religious.[28]

Death anxiety increases atheists unconscious belief in God

On April 2, 2012, Science Daily reported that Death anxiety increases atheists' unconscious belief in God.[29] In a 2012 Psychology Today article, Dr. Nathan A. Heflick reported similar results in other studies.[30]

(Under stress, the brain's processing works in a way that prefers unconscious thinking.[31]) See also: Atheism and the brain

For more information on death anxiety in atheists and other types of individuals based on brain research studies (including studies that examined the effects of stress), please see the article: Atheism and death

Brain study: Religious belief vs. non-belief - Anxiety/stress reduction

See also: Atheism and the brain and Atheism and brain function

Brain researchers have conducted a number of studies focusing on the differences between atheists and the religious. See: Atheism and the brain

According to the leading science news website Phys.org:

Believing in God can help block anxiety and minimize stress, according to new University of Toronto research that shows distinct brain differences between believers and non-believers.

In two studies led by Assistant Psychology Professor Michael Inzlicht, participants performed a Stroop task - a well-known test of cognitive control - while hooked up to electrodes that measured their brain activity.

Compared to non-believers, the religious participants showed significantly less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a portion of the brain that helps modify behavior by signaling when attention and control are needed, usually as a result of some anxiety-producing event like making a mistake. The stronger their religious zeal and the more they believed in God, the less their ACC fired in response to their own errors, and the fewer errors they made...

Their findings show religious belief has a calming effect on its devotees, which makes them less likely to feel anxious about making errors or facing the unknown.[32]

Athesm and cowardice

See: Atheism and cowardice

Atheism and apathy

See also: Atheism and apathy and Atheism and motivation

Brain researchers have conducted a number of studies focusing on the differences between atheists and the religious. See: Atheism and the brain

According to Scientific American: "Research also suggests that a religious brain exhibits higher levels of dopamine, a hormone associated with increased attention and motivation."[33] See also: Atheism and motivation and Atheism and the brain and Atheism and inspiration

Atheist Francois Tremblay wrote: "One last problem that undermines any propagation of atheism is inspiration. Let's be honest here, 'there is no god!' is not a very motivating call for most people."[34]

Widespread sloth in the former Soviet Union helped cause much poverty.[35][36] A study performed in the former Soviet Union found that over 50% of the work force admitted to drinking alcohol while on the job (See also: Atheism and alcoholism).[37] In the former Soviet Union, a popular joke was that the workers pretended to work and the Soviet Union pretended to pay them.[38] See also: Atheism and sloth

Study: Psychological research links atheism to emotional suppression

Atheism and difficulties with grief

See also: Atheism and grief

According to a study performed in the United States by researchers Wink and Scott, very religious people fear death the least.[39] See also: Atheism and death

USA Today reported about atheism and grief:

When Rebecca Hensler's infant son died in 2009, she received numerous condolences from friends, colleagues and even total strangers she met online.

Rebecca Hensler started a support group for grieving atheists to help them deal with loss and death without religion.

Rebecca Hensler started a support group for grieving atheists to help them deal with loss and death without religion.

Rebecca Hensler started a support group for grieving atheists to help them deal with loss and death without religion.

She knew their intentions were good, but their words weren't always helpful. And in the rawness of her grief, Hensler found some of them downright hurtful.

Hensler is an atheist, so when people described her three-month-old son Jude as being an angel, or part of God's plan, or "in a better place" than in his mother's arms, the pain sometimes overwhelmed her.[40]

Atheism and envy

The ex-atheist John C. Wright wrote "Leftism is politicized envy."[41]

See also: Atheism and envy

Envy is the sin of wanting (or coveting) what other people have, or more precisely resentment or bitterness over what other people have. This can include possessions, power, social standing, or even things that the envious person could not possibly gain for himself, such as talent or looks.

Politically, atheists tend to lean towards the left (see: Secular left and Atheism and politics). According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power."[42] See also: Atheism and communism

Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. wrote at the Mises Wire:

Uniformity is stressed in all leftist utopias, paradises in which everybody is the same, envy is dead, and the enemy is either dead, lives outside the gates, or is utterly humiliated. Leftism loathes differences, deviations, stratifications. ... The word “one” is its symbol: one language, one race, one class, one ideology, one ritual, one type of school, one law for everybody, one flag, one coat of arms, one centralized world state.[43]

Atheism and negative emotions

See also: Atheism and negative emotions/thoughts

To see relevant studies and historical data about the atheist population's highly unusual propensity to display negative emotions such as depression, anger, anxiety and boredom, please see:

1. Atheism and depression (Cites relevant studies about atheism increasing depression)

Research suggests that irreligiousity is a causal factor for domestic violence.[44] See: Irreligion and domestic violence and Secular Europe and domestic violence


2. Atheism and suicide (Atheists have a higher suicide rate than the general public)


3. Atheism and loneliness (Cites studies and other relevant data)


4. Militant atheism and anger (Studies and historical information about atheism and anger)


5. Irreligion and domestic violence and Secular Europe and domestic violence (Research indicates that religiosity lowers one's propensity to engage in domestic violence)


6. Militant atheism (Historical information about atheism/violence/intolerance)


7. Atheism and emotional intelligence (Cites relevant studies about atheists having lower emotional intelligence). See also: Atheism and alcoholism


8. Atheism and social intelligence (Cites relevant studies and historical data showing lower interpersonal skills within the atheist population)


9.Atheists suffer from a variety of anxieties that often the religiously devout do not suffer from or rarely suffer from (see: Atheism and anxiety).


10. Atheism and death anxiety (Cites relevant studies and historical data related to atheism/death anxiety and related matters)


11. Atheism and feelings of meaninglessness (Cites relevant information from studies and history)


12. Atheism and irrationality (Cites studies on irreligion/irrationality/superstitious beliefs and other relevant information)

Atheism and mental toughness

See: Atheism and mental toughness

Mayo Clinic, university studies, and other research

See also: Atheism and health and Atheism and mental illness

The prestigious Mayo Clinic found that that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life and other health outcomes.[45]

The prestigious Mayo Clinic reported the following on December 11, 2001:

In an article also published in this issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Clinic researchers reviewed published studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews and subject reviews that examined the association between religious involvement and spirituality and physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life and other health outcomes.

The authors report a majority of the nearly 350 studies of physical health and 850 studies of mental health that have used religious and spiritual variables have found that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes.[46]

Duke University has established the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.[47] The Duke University Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health is based in the Center for Aging at Duke and gives opportunities for scholarly trans-disciplinary conversation and the development of collaborative research projects.[48] In respect to the atheism and mental and physical health, the center offers many studies which suggest that theism is more beneficial than atheism.[49]

Rationalwiki administrator and anger

RationalWiki is a wiki primarily consisting of atheists/agnostics.

As can be seen above, on 5-24-2020, the RationalWiki administrator Oxyaena wrote: "it's just that i am probably raging too much most of the time to form coherent sentences." The statement was made on their Discord channel (Discord is a chat website). See also: Atheism and irrationality

See also

Notes

  1. Christian Philosopher Explores Causes of Atheism
  2. Emotional intelligence
  3. Divine Emotions: On the Link Between Emotional Intelligence and Religious Belief, Journal of Religion and Health, December 2017, Volume 56, Issue 6, pp 1998–2009
  4. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE WITH RELIGIOUS COPING AND GENERAL HEALTH OF STUDENTS by Masoumeh Bagheri Nesami, Amir Hossein Goudarzian, Houman Zarei, Pedram Esameili, Milad Dehghan Pour, and Hesam Mirani, Materia Sociomedica. 2015 Dec; 27(6): 412–416. doi: 10.5455/msm.2015.27.412-416
  5. Religiosity and perceived emotional intelligence among Christians, Personality and Individual Differences 41(3):479-490 · August 2006, DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2006.01.016
  6. When atheists are angry at God by Joe Carter at FirstThings.com website
  7. EMOTIONAL REACTIONS OF ATHEISTS MAY REVEAL ECHOES OF BELIEF
  8. Anger at God common, even among atheists
  9. Greta Christina - Why Are You Atheists So Angry?
  10. The Appostates by Kate Knibbs, The Ringer
  11. Half of Americans believe in angels, Washington Times
  12. Answering an atheist's question
  13. [1]
  14. Evangelist: Atheists know they are wrong
  15. Evangelist: Atheists know they are wrong
  16. Theophobia, Freedictionary.com
  17. Atheists hate God
  18. Evangelist: Atheists know they are wrong
  19. Evangelist: Atheists know they are wrong
  20. [Why Do Atheists Get So Angry When Christians Talk About Their Unbelief?] by Jennifer LeClaire, Charisma News, 12:30PM EST 11/22/2013
  21. Bainbridge, William (2005). "Atheism" (PDF). Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. 1 (Article 2): 1–26.
  22. Lonely religious people are less depressed than atheists because they see God as a friend replacement, study finds, Daily Mail, 2018
  23. Adherents.com - suicide rates
  24. Lonely religious people are less depressed than atheists because they see God as a friend replacement, study finds, Daily Mail, 2018
  25. What God does to your brain by Julia Llewellyn Smith. The Telegraph, 20 Jun 2014
  26. http://www.scienceblog.com/community/older/2003/A/20037338.html
  27. http://www.adherents.com/misc/religion_suicide.html
  28. Fear of death: worst if you’re a little religious?, World of Science]
  29. Death anxiety increases atheists' unconscious belief in God, Science Daily], Date: April 2, 2012
  30. Atheists, Death and Belief in God The Effects of Death Reminders on Atheists' Supernatural Beliefs, Psychology Today, Published on May 25, 2012 by Nathan A. Heflick, Ph.D. in The Big Questions
  31. Researchers find brain differences between believers and non-believers, Phys.org, March 4, 2009
  32. Ask the Brains, Scientific American, Dec 23, 2011
  33. Herding Cats: Why atheism will lose by Francois Tremblay
  34. Poverty, prostitutes and the long, slow death of the Soviet Union: Haunting pictures show desperate struggle to survive in last days of USSR, The Daily Mail
  35. Soviet Openness Brings Poverty Out of the Shadows, New York Times
  36. Communism and computer ethics
  37. You Pretend to work and Putin pretends to pay you
  38. Fear of death: worst if you’re a little religious?, World of Science]
  39. Grief without God is a challenge for nonbelievers
  40. Atheist Coffee and Feminist Envy by John C. Wright
  41. Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”
  42. The Unique Evil of the Left by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., Mises Wire/Mises Institute
  43. doi: 10.1177/1077801207308259 Violence Against Women, Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence, November 2007 vol. 13 no. 11 1094-1112
  44. https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(11)62799-7/abstract
  45. https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(11)62799-7/abstract
  46. http://www.dukespiritualityandhealth.org/
  47. http://www.dukespiritualityandhealth.org/about/
  48. http://www.dukespiritualityandhealth.org/publications/latest.html