Monday, August 10, 2009

Religion and Happiness: A New Study

[maybe it’s not so bad]

I recently saw a study done by the Paris School of Economics which used survey data on 90,000 individuals in 26 European countries to examine the effect of religion on life satisfaction. The study found that religious behavior is positively correlated with individual life satisfaction. Additionally, the average religiosity in a region also has a positive impact: people are more satisfied in more religious regions. This spillover holds both for those who are religious and for those who are not. The flipside of the coin is that a greater proportion of "atheists" (those who say they do not currently belong to any religious denomination) has negative spillover effects, for the religious and atheists alike.

This spillover effect may help explain the unfortunate phenomenon of “Hasidic Rebels” - atheists who continue to pose as Orthodox Jews even after rejecting Jewish beliefs. Simply remaining in the Orthodox community adds to their overall satisfaction in life.

It makes one wonder what exactly militant atheists such as Richard Dawkins are trying to accomplish by advocating atheism. Do they own stock in the companies which manufacture anti-depressants? Or do they perhaps confuse “happy” with “high”, a common mistake today.


Anonymous said...

Your blog post was good until the last paragraph.

What most atheists try to convey is that there is no logical reason to believe in a god.
Simple as that.

While it is true that religious (or self-delusional to atheists) people tend to be happier, this could be due to many reasons.
The obvious one that comes to mind is that we live in a mostly religious world where religion is rewarded.
Atheists don't get to share in that reward and are therefore less happy.

jewish philosopher said...

"What most atheists try to convey is that there is no logical reason to believe in a god."

Why not just shut up?

"we live in a mostly religious world where religion is rewarded"

Right, religion is rewarded by being refused employment because you cannot work on Saturday and rewarded by paying huge taxes to finance secular schools which you cannot use. Any other rewards?

Leah Gayle said...

Here's a few you can add:

Having some of your neighbors in your condo/flat, apartment complex or neighborhood association say you're a snob because you won't eat anything (except fresh fruit if they bother to have any) at the social gatherings. That's fun.

Oh, yeah - and not buying the stuff from their kid's school fundraisers because it's not certified kosher, so of course then they won't buy your kid's stuff.

Then there's the looks you get from some other women when you're wearing modest swimwear in the condo association's private pool (no men there during the morning and early afternoon - they're all at work), with your legs covered and with sleeves to the elbow when its 85 degrees - just in case. That's fun.

(Though I must say I do enjoy looking at the other moms - the flabby women dressed like cheap tarts parading around in their underwear and most of THEM need covering up way more than I do...LOL). They think they are attractive.

Let's see - missing all the good Saturday-only sales. Missing the gallery hops and other social events for our favorite non-religious charities on Friday nights and Saturdays...

Not being able to order a pizza if something goes horribly wrong with the crock pot on Friday night or Saturday (which has happened to me before).

...But the benefits still far outweigh the annoyances, and I can say with confidence we are happy. Them - not so much, as the other moms tell me constantly. To hear them talk they haven't had a happy or restful day in their adult lives. I get at least one every week.

jewish philosopher said...

I would say that in a primarily secular country, such as European countries in this study, religion is tolerated however hardly rewarded in any tangible way. The higher level of satisfaction in life presumably is a benefit of belief itself.

bankman said...

I would also be happy if I thought that by doing such silly stuff (some of which described by Ahavah Gayle) I would accumualte points, or tickets (or s'char, call it what you want) that I will eventually be able to cash in (when I'm dead, presumably).

That would make me happy.

I bet muslims that kill a nonbeliever are happier than JP would ever be - they get to go to paradise and live an a harem presumbaly for eternity! Thats true happiness.

jewish philosopher said...

bankman, such a noble person. You prefer to being honest to being happy, am I correct?

Then I wonder why you won't tell anyone who you are?

The truth of course is pretty obvious - you are a scum ball and you although you know that observant Jews are better than you are, you can't change.

Anonymous said...

The study concludes: "At least in terms of life satisfaction, religion is the opium of the people" (page 17).

o⋅pi⋅um, noun
1. The dried, condensed juice of a poppy, Papaver somniferum, that has a narcotic, soporific, analgesic, and astringent effect and contains morphine, codeine, papaverine, and other alkaloids used in medicine in their isolated or derived forms: a narcotic substance, poisonous in large doses.
2. Anything that causes dullness or inaction or that soothes the mind or emotions.

bankman said...

Why do you want to know who I am? Why is that meaningful to the discussion?

Moermans and the Amish are better than me too..therefore, what?

Actually, I think I'm a pretty decent guy. I don't accuse people of abusing drugs or using prostitutes willy nilly. I also have several friends that are gay, and I teat them with respect and disgnity, like I would any other human being.

and you? you think you are decent?

jewish philosopher said...

Well, whoever you are, you are obviously an idiot.

You're trying to claim that you are an atheist even though being religious would make you happy because you are so much more honest and peace loving than religious people. So noble.

But you at the same time won't reveal anything about yourself.

Do you even understand how stupid this sounds?

bankman said...

I never claimed I was an atheist. But I do think that orthodox judaism is quite ridiculous.

Also, being more "honest and peace-loving" that orthodox judaism is not setting the bar very high.

JP - why do you want to know who I am? Do you truly care? In addition, if you look around your shul one firday night, there are probably several dozen people who feel as I do.

jewish philosopher said...

"why do you want to know who I am"

It would just be fascinating to know who this perfect person is who feels free to spit on those horrible Orthodox. In my experience, people like that usually have a lot of issues of their own. But maybe you'll surprise me. Perhaps you can inspire us.

Anonymous said...

Sam Harrid said that morality is whatever increases happiness. By this metric religion is a decidedly moral endeaver. And Harris is acting immorally by discouraging religion

Leah Gayle said...

That "silly stuff" shows that I have respect for myself, self-control and are not dependent upon society's opinion of me. If only all the brittany spears wanna-be's could say the same.

bankman said...

I think I'm perfect?

I spit on other people?

I think other people are horrible?

I am so full of myself that I think that I can inspire other people?

hakol posel, bemumo posel

Baal Habos said...

Finally, a sensible post. As to Dawkins, he goes to great lengths explaining the pitfalls of religion. So over all, while many people may be happier with faith, I know I was, there's quite a good chance that the world as a whole, would be way better off without religion. And perhaps if the world would take all the effort expended on religion, and channel it into something else, progress could be made on even more fronts, such as health, longevity, emotional well-being, etc. (Just imagine the wasted brain power of all those who spend their lives poring over ancient sacred texts).

Secondly, Sam Harris and Dawkins do make the case that religious moderates may be enabling the fanatics who globally threaten humanity with annihilation.

Thirdly, of course, people being happier with religion, does not make it true.

jewish philosopher said...

About the opium, opium can give users a feeling of euphoria, extreme calm, or well being.

From the context, it would appear that this is what the article means.

"hakol posel, bemumo posel"

Whatever. But which one of us is embarrassed to show his face?

"the world as a whole, would be way better off without religion"

The world as a whole would be destroyed without religion.

"people being happier with religion, does not make it true"

I don't think that atheists have given a good explanation for man's religious instinct if there is in fact no God.

Baal Habos said...

>Sam Harrid said that morality is whatever increases happiness. By this metric religion is a decidedly moral endeaver. And Harris is acting immorally by discouraging religion

I think Harris says that morality is alleviating human suffering . Big difference. By your definition Harris would be in favor of druggies, and that's probably not true.

Anonymous said...

And if modrate religious people are responsible for the atrocities commited by extremists, then moderate atheists are responsible for the atrocities commited by extremist atheists. And the worse atrocities were comminted by atheists, Stalin and Mao. And a disproportionate number of mass murderers were atheists, and vise versa. And every time atheists run a country, they resort to mass murder. Adn I guess all Darwinsist should be held accountable for enabling Hitler.

Anonymous said...

And if Harris definintion of happiness is alleviating suffering, well, who are the people doing that? I don't know of any atheist equivalent of Mother Theresa.

Anonymous said...

The evolution of religion in human beings is a fascinating study.

jewish philosopher said...

Atheists have been thrashing around for a long time, trying to find an explanation for religion.

Marx believed religion is an expression of material realities and economic injustice. It is used by oppressors to make people feel better about the distress they experience due to being poor and exploited.

Other atheists have cooked up other ideas, however we observe that all other animals, including animals like dolphins and wolves which live in packs and are highly intelligent, function perfectly well with no hint of religion.

To me it's clear that God created us with a religious instinct because He wants us to search for Him.

bankman said...

"To me it's clear..."

JP, you are finally making some headway - I am so proud of you.

To YOU its clear (to MANY others, not so clear)

Anonymous said...

"we observe that all other animals, including animals like dolphins and wolves which live in packs and are highly intelligent, function perfectly well with no hint of religion."

I think this might be true, and people should also "function perfectly well without religion."

"To me it's clear that God created us with a religious instinct because He wants us to search for Him."

Who is this "us" you speak of?

jewish philosopher said...

bankrupt man, why no LOL today?

anon, "us" means "people".

Anonymous said...

'anon, "us" means "people".'

How inclusive. What happens when we find 'Him'?

jewish philosopher said...

You devote your life to Him.

Anonymous said...

"You devote your life to Him."

Don't you mean "we"?

And what does it mean to "devote" our lives to Him? For instance, would we be blogging like this now?

jewish philosopher said...

There are number of links on this blog connecting you to classes, books, etc. Click for further details and good luck.

bankman said...

JP - you pulled one out me, nicely done.

"Click for further details and good luck."


you should think about standup comedy, think how much toirah you could support!

jewish philosopher said...

If I only attract chassidish bums like you, it won't be worth it. You won't pay.


Anonymous said...

Highly intelligent discussion, as always...

...rolls eyes...

jewish philosopher said...

There does arise a communications gap when one party is thinking with his genitals and another is thinking with his brain.

In spite of that, I try to keep a dialog going.

Anonymous said...

You are totally out there JP!

Your blog is THE exemplar, bar none, of someone spewing bile and hatred at any and every target avalable..gays...atheists...darwinians...
the irreligious who remain in the community...the irreligious...

your biography reads like a tale of adoption and the need to find a personal identity which makes it all make sense...

and then you try to say that religion makes you happy! Totally out there.

jewish philosopher said...

I believe hatred can be positive.

Was Christopher Hitchens adopted?

Or Sam Harris?

Or Richard Dawkins?

All preach hatred and intolerance. And not merely against a few heretics, but against probably 90% of humanity.

Anonymous said...

"I believe hatred can be positive."

Very sick. You really do have a lot more in common with Falwell than with Hillel or Rabbi Akiva.

Surely you didn't mean to suggest above that your role models for ethical behaviour are Hitchens et al? If Christopher told you to jump off a bridge would you?

Lets look at a few sources on the subject from the religion you purport to follow, I'll sure you'll find them to be better guides than Chrissy-boy and friends.

"On another occasion it happened that a certain heathen came before Shammai and said to him, "Make me a proselyte, on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Thereupon he chased him away with the builder's cubit that was in his hand. When he came before Hillel, (he also asked Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot) Hillel replied, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah while the rest is commentary; go and learn it." Shabbos 31a

"Love your fellow as yourself - Rabbi Akiva says this is a great principle of the Torah."Kedoshim 19:18

"Hillel said: Be of the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow creatures, and bringing them near to the Torah." Pirkei Avos 1:12

Larry Tanner said...

Godbots always say that atheism is a religion. Does this study now indicate that atheism is not a religion? It seems that godbots like to call atheism a religion when it suits them. In other words, they lie.

I tend to doubt the legitimacy of this "study" because there's actually very little information given on it. What do we know about how information was gathered, and what the agenda was of the researchers? How did they account for potential biases and data corruptions? Has the study been cited by any reputable folk in scholarship?

In any case, all the study seems to claim anyway is that people feel better when they live under the illusion of divine authority - jews, christians, jainists, buddhists, muslims, hindus, mormons, wiccans, taoists and so on. The study provides no help in sorting out which of these beliefs may have any sort of truth and which are balderdash. Believe something, anything, and you'll feel happier.

But truth is a key issue with me. Once I walk out of the shul, as I di this afternoon, god is irrelevant.

jewish philosopher said...

Anon, the people who claim to love everyone really love no one.

Check out John Lennon.

Larry isn't a godbot some kind of toy?

Anonymous said...

So Hillel and Rabbi Akiva got it wrong? It's astonishing to me that you will defend sex with a 12 year old girl but refuse to agree with these sources about love from the very Talmud you claim to venerate.

What about the following from Devarim 22:28 and 22:29 which states that a if a man rapes an unbethrothed virigin he can pay her father 50 shekels to marry her.

Do you agree with that?

28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, that is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;

29 then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he hath humbled her; he may not put her away all his days.

jewish philosopher said...

Anon, Rabbi Akiva and Hillel were talking about other observant Jews.

About the rape; yes.

Anonymous said...

"About the rape; yes."

Just so readers are fully aware of what that means...the author of this blog believes it is right, by law, for a rapist to be able to buy his rape victim from her father to be his wife forever.

Nuff said really.

jewish philosopher said...

Of course it's referring to where the victim is agreeing to the marriage. The rapist is then forced to pay a fine to the father, marry the victim and he can never divorce her.

This has not been practiced for past two thousand years since more recently qualified Jewish courts have not existed.

Just by this type of quote mining to prove how evil Jews are is very old practice but not too productive. You may just as well make stuff up, like the blood libel stories.

Nuff said?

Anonymous said...

"Of course it's referring to where the victim is agreeing to the marriage."

That's not what it says in Devarim. Source, please?

My point is that you believe in this, not that you practice it. I have made up nothing and your attempt to suggest I am an anti-semite is risible.

jewish philosopher said...

The source is Rambam Hilchos Naarah 1:4

אבל האנוסה שלא רצת היא, או אביה, להינשא לאונס--הרשות בידם, ונותן קנס.

Also quoted here:

It's interesting how quick some bloggers are to ridicule the religions of other people. I try to do my homework, and if, for example, I claim that atheists are cannibals and whores, I have facts to back that up.

Incidentally, to the best of my knowledge, no Orthodox Jew has ever been convicted of forcible rape, so the entire problem is probably hypothetical.

Anonymous said...

Frum rapists? I can think of one off the top of my head - Israel Weingarten - who abused his own daughter from the age of 9.

You can even view the indictment here if you don't believe me.

The reason for low reported rape and sexual abuse in the Haredi community?

"Sex predators operate with ease among the ultra-orthodox communities because female victims often keep quiet, knowing that to speak out will damage their prospects of finding a husband. "The families all want their girls to have a AAA marriage to a religious scholar from a good family, and nobody's going to marry a girl who gets raped,"....",9171,1809880,00.html

Anonymous said...

The Rambam's halacha and the Talmudic source for it in particular provide a great example of the humanising inclinations of the rabbis. When faced with this egregiously unjust law - that a girl (yes a girl - batula) who has been raped must marry her victim, they import a requirement that she first consent. The biblical verse requirement no such thing.

The law remains unjust - no rape victim would ever freely consent to marry her victim - but by goodness did they attempt to make it humane!

The humanity of the rabbis has totally passed you by JP.

jewish philosopher said...

Regarding Weingarten, he was convicted of sexual abuse, not forcible rape. Those are different crimes.

Regarding the belief that Orthodox Jews get away with crime more easily than gentiles, I have discussed this elsewhere.

Second anon - Orthodox Jews believe in a Written and Oral Law.

Anonymous said...

Check the indictment. He had penetrative sex with her. She was a child. She is his daughter.

Re the written and oral law thing, I know orthodox Jews believe in a written and oral law. Have a look at this instance and tell me that the importation of a requirement of consent by the rabbis in this instance is not an attempt to mitigate the injustice of the biblical verse. Ah but I see that you believe in a vengeful and angry God so you probably don't care about mitigating injustice.

jewish philosopher said...

As I said, to the best of my knowledge, no Orthodox Jew has ever been convicted of forcible rape.

About the rape victim in the Torah, of course she's consenting to the marriage. Only a lunatic would have understood the verses differently. The law here is for HER benefit.

Gatogreensleeves said...

"Any other rewards?" JP

Are you kidding me?? Don't you have the moral highground on every single issue by your own admission and isn't the entire religious world in complete collusion with each other over this even from wildly contrasting religions?

The premise is flawed from the getgo anyway. Ask a junky if he's happy before and after he shoots up. What does that prove?

jewish philosopher said...

Heroin has bad effects; Orthodox Judaism doesn't.

Prometheus said...

For all your claims that Orthodox Judaism promotes good physical and mental health, that poor man front and center in the above picture appears to be critically overweight if not obese. Just saying...

jewish philosopher said...

Well, it's hard to compete with health nuts like Christopher Hitchens.

Prometheus said...

Yes, because ALL atheists are carbon copies of Christopher Hitchens...Right!

Just like all Blacks are carbon copies of a particular rapper.

And ALL Muslims are carbon copies of Osama bin Laden. (Except the Shiites. They're carbon copies of the Ayatollah Khomeini and Mahmoud Achmadinejad.)

All Catholics are carbon copies of Mel Gibson!

(Why do you consistently believe that Orthodox Judaism and atheism are the ONLY two ideologies in existence? How did that poor gentleman get so fat on a kosher diet anyway?)

jewish philosopher said...

Prometheus, perhaps you would like to honor us with information about your magnificence.

You know, just a couple of weeks ago I had a disagreement on the Internet with a very opinionated gentleman. He did reveal his name. It turns out that he is 54 years old, was recently kicked out by his wife of thirty years, moved into an apartment, went bankrupt, was evicted and now lives with his 85 year old mother, penniless, unemployed and unmarried. Quite inspiring. And he's going to teach me how to live.

So feel free to share.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jewish Philosopher,

With every word of yours I read, I become more anti - Semitic.



Cannibalistic Atheist Whore

P.S. I'm gonna eat you!

jewish philosopher said...

Just a tip from Martha Stewart:

Human flesh tastes like pork, so just adapt the same recipes.