Atheism and loneliness

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

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).[1]

Dr. J. Gordon Melton said about the atheist movement (organized atheism) that atheism is not a movement which tends to create community, but in the last few years there has been some growth of organized atheism.[2] See also: Atheism and apathy and Atheist factions

Compared to religious cultures where an extended family and a sense of community often exists, secular countries are often lonelier societies. In addition, numerous studies and other data indicate that atheists often have lower emotional intelligence and lower social skills (see: Atheism and emotional intelligence and Atheism and social skills).

Loneliness has been linked to many physical and mental health problems.[3] See also: Atheism and health

According to Livescience.com:

Loneliness can send a person down a path toward bad health, and even more intense loneliness, studies have shown. But while some have assumed the culprit was a dearth of others to remind a person to take care of himself or herself, new research suggests there's a direct biological link between being lonely and ill health.

Loneliness can set into a motion a barrage of negative impacts inside the human body...

John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago social psychologist who studies the biological effects of loneliness, ...found, for instance, loneliness is tied to hardening of the arteries (which leads to high blood pressure), inflammation in the body, and even problems with learning and memory. Even fruit flies that are isolated have worse health and die sooner than those that interact with others, showing that social engagement may be hard-wired, Cacioppo said...

In addition, loneliness raises levels of the circulating stress hormone cortisol and blood pressure, with one study showing that social isolation can push blood pressure up into the danger zone for heart attacks and strokes.[4]

See also:

Contents

Atheism, loneliness and difficulty of community involvement

The article Internet atheism: The thrill is gone! points out that internet atheism has been in a significant slump since 2008.

See also: Atheism and apathy and Atheist factions and Internet atheism and American atheists and church attendance

In comparison to many religious groups, which have many meetings in numerous places in a given day or week which are convenient to attend, atheist meetings are sparse. One of the reasons for this situation is the apathy of many atheists (see: Atheism and apathy). Also, in recent years there has been a lot of in-fighting and divisions within the atheist movement (see: Atheist factions).

In recent times, the number of people attending atheist conferences has grown smaller.[5] Atheist David Smalley wrote: "And we wonder why we’re losing elections, losing funding, and our conferences are getting smaller."[6] In 2017, the atheist activist Lee Moore said about atheist conferences, "Most conferences are gone now. They're either gone or in some kind of life support form."[7]

Atheist Francois Tremblay wrote about the difficulty of motivating atheists to engage in activities related to atheism: "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." (see also: Atheism and inspiration).[8]

In an essay entitled How the Atheist Movement Failed Me, an atheist woman noted that participation in the atheist community is often expensive due to the cost of attending atheist conferences and even local atheist meetings in restaurants and bars challenged her modest budget.[9] As a result of the challenges that atheists commonly have in terms of socializing in person, some atheists turn to the internet in terms of communicating with other atheists.[10] Often internet communication between atheists turns acrimonious and contentious (see: Atheist factions).

In recent times, the number of people attending atheist conferences has grown smaller.[11][12][13] Atheist David Smalley wrote: "And we wonder why we’re losing elections, losing funding, and our conferences are getting smaller."[14]

Shortage of successful secular institutions and loneliness

The atheist Guy Stagg wrote in The Telegraph:

It shows that, although secularists have realised that they cannot simply be defined by opposition to religion, nevertheless they have little to offer in its place. Crucially the secular tradition has no successful institutions to preserve and spread its principles.

This is something that few secularists admit: atheism is quite lonely. Not just existentially, but socially as well. Secularism does not offer the sense of fellowship you find in religion. Watching old Christopher Hitchens debates on YouTube with a like-minded sceptic is entertaining, but I doubt it's as nourishing as Sunday Mass.[15]

In addition, Conatus News indicates:

The overwhelming anti-atheist sentiment in society means most don’t feel comfortable outwardly proclaiming their lack of faith. So instead of congregating in a large building on Sunday, many atheists have found their own community online.

This societal stigma is certainly part of the reason atheists seem so drawn to internet interactions. Anonymity, or at least the safety of separation from those around you, provides the ability to truly speak one’s mind.[16]

Secular humanist philosophy and loneliness

Janice Shaw Crouse wrote in The American Spectator:

...the secular humanist view that human existence is disconnected from any higher power and from responsibility for anyone other than ourselves gives a certain freedom to make one’s own rules, but there is a price to pay for this freedom. Gone is human dignity. Gone is mankind’s special connection to the Author of beauty, truth, or goodness. Ultimately, we are “free,” but autonomy is just another way of being alone. Autonomous individuals have no responsibility to others, just as others have no claim on them. There is no obligation to care about others’ troubles, or even to listen when someone intrudes into another’s priceless personal space in search of a sympathetic hearing of their concerns and difficulties.[17]

Sartre, togetherness and loneliness

Peter Kreeft wrote about a work by the atheist Jean-Paul Sartre:

Sartre's most famous play, "No Exit," puts three dead people in a room and watches them make hell for each other simply by playing God to each other—not in the sense of exerting external power over each other but simply by knowing each other as objects. The shocking lesson of the play is that "hell is other people."

It takes a profound mind to say something as profoundly false as that. In truth, hell is precisely the absence of other people, human and divine. Hell is total loneliness. Heaven is other people, because heaven is where God is, and God is Trinity. God is love, God is "other persons."[18]

Dr. J.D. Strauss on atheism, alienation and humanism

Dr. J.D. Strauss wrote:

Contemporary atheism and alienation are closely connected. To a large extent the emphasis of contemporary atheism has shifted from a critique of the proofs for the existence of God to a rejection of the properties traditionally attributed to Him. More fundamentally it might be said that the atheism of our 'day, in its reflective philosophical expression, consists chiefly in asserting the impossibility of "the coexistence of finite and infinite beings. It is maintained that the affirmation of God as infinite being necessarily implies the devaluation of finite being and, in particular, the dehumanization of man. The merely negative form of atheism has been replaced by a more sophisticated version according to which contemporary man if he is to be truly human must, perhaps reluctantly, dispense with belief in God.

Masterson says:

Thus the "problem of God" is posed today as a feature of a more basic problem of human alienation and authenticity.[19]

Men outnumber women in the atheist population

Studies and web traffic data appear to indicate that women in the Western World tend to be more religious than men.[20][21] See also: Atheism and women

See also: Atheism and women

Another factor contributing to atheist loneliness is that there is a disproportionate amount of men compared to women in the atheist population (See also: Atheism and women).

Misogny withing atheist population

In addition, women are more often mistreated in the atheist population than in the theist population (see: Irreligion and domestic violence and Atheism and rape and Atheism and sexism and Elevatorgate).

American atheists and marriage

See also: Atheism and marriage and Atheist marriages

The Christian apologist Michael Caputo wrote:

Recently the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has published its mammoth study on Religion in America based on 35,000 interviews... According to the Pew Forum a whopping 37% of atheists never marry as opposed to 19% of the American population, 17% of Protestants and 17% of Catholics.[22]

Vox Day declared that according to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) "more than half of all atheists and agnostics don’t get married."(see also: Atheism and marriage).[23]

Atheism and divorce statistics

See: Atheism and divorce

Barna Group study on American atheists and relationships

In 2015, the Barna Group released an announcment concerning a study on American atheists/agnostics which indicated:

One of the unexpected results we uncovered is the limited influence of personal relationships on skeptics. They are considerably less relational and less engaged in social activities than the average American. Christians for whom ‘ministry is about relationships’ may be disappointed when they find that many skeptics are not as enamored of relational bonds as are those who are already a part of church life.[24]

Atheistic countries and loneliness

Secular Europe and loneliness

Denmark has the highest proportion of single-dwellers in Europe, at 24%.[25]

See also: Secular Europe and loneliness

A BBC article entitled Is Modern life making us more lonely? declared:

EU figures suggest that, in the UK as a whole, 13% of the population lives alone. Denmark has the highest proportion of single-dwellers, at 24%. In Germany, Finland and Sweden, that number is just below 20%.

The figures suggest that in southern Europe people are less inclined to live alone. In Greece, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria and Romania, that amounts to fewer than 10% of people, with Malta having the lowest rate at about 7%.[26]

A Eurobarometer poll in 2010 reported that 37% of UK citizens "believed there is a God", 33% believe there is "some sort of spirit or life force" and 25% answered "I don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".[27]

In 2005, Denmark was ranked the third most atheistic country in the world and the website adherents.com reported that in 2005 43 - 80% of Danes are agnostics/atheists/non-believers in God.[28]

Germany is one of the most atheistic countries in the world and the website adherents.com reports that 41-49% of Germans are agnostics/atheists/non-believers in God.[29]

According to a 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, 33% of Finnish citizens "believe there is a God". (In 2005, the figure was 41%).[30]

Sweden is one of the most atheistic country in the world and the website adherents.com reported that in 2005 46 - 85% of Swedes were agnostics/atheists/non-believers in God.[31]

Indian anthropologist's commentary on lonelineness in atheistic Denmark

The Indian anthropologist Prakash Reddy found Denmark to be a neat and tidy, cozy little society, stiff, rigid and seemingly full of practical, down-to-earth but lonely people, isolated from each other and lacking much sense of religion.

Compared to the teeming villages of India, a Danish hamlet seemed deserted and closed. To an Indian, accustomed to constant close contact in an extended family and community, Danish life was cold if not nonexistent.[32]

In 1993, Reuters reported:

Indian anthropologist Prakash Reddy has turned the tables on Western colleagues who put Third World cultures under the microscope.

Reddy, of Sri Venkateswara University at Tirupati in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, spent four months in the village of Hvilsager--population 104--on Denmark's Jutland peninsula.

His study, published in book form in English under the title "Danes are like that!" expresses dismay at the loneliness he found and the hope that India would not have to pay the same price for prosperity.

"The most fundamental question that should bother every social scientist in the East is: Is there no way of achieving development without sacrificing the human values and the way of life cherished by homo sapiens?" he asked....

Reddy said he found a neat and tidy, cozy little society, stiff, rigid and seemingly full of practical, down-to-earth but lonely people, isolated from each other and lacking much sense of religion.

Compared to the teeming villages of India, the Danish hamlet seemed deserted and closed. To an Indian, accustomed to constant close contact in an extended family and community, Danish life was cold if not nonexistent, Reddy said.

"Coming from an Indian village, I was used to seeing people in the streets . . . but here in Denmark not a single soul was sighted and, except for the sound of a passing automobile, absolute silence prevailed," Reddy wrote.[33]

1.5 million elderly English men are expected to suffer from loneliness by 2030.[34]

England and loneliness

See also: England and loneliness and British atheism

A Eurobarometer poll in 2010 reported that 37% of UK citizens "believed there is a God", 33% believe there is "some sort of spirit or life force" and 25% answered "I don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".[35]

In June of 2014, The Telegraph reported: "Britain ranks 26th out of the 28 European Union countries by the proportion of the population who say they have someone on whom they feel they could rely if they have a serious problem.[36]

In October of 2014, The Guardian reported:

The number of men over the age of 50 suffering from severe loneliness in England will increase to more than 1 million in the next 15 years, research based on government statistics has revealed.

More than 700,000 older men already report feeling a high degree of loneliness and with the population of older men living alone predicted to swell by 65% to 1.5 million by 2030, the impact of isolation will spread, according to advice and support charity, Independent Age...

“This matters because loneliness is actually a health risk,” said Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age. “If you allow people to suffer from loneliness it has the equivalent impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is as big a risk as obesity.”[37]

Young people in Britain and loneliness

Atheistic France and loneliness

Since 2010, the last time the survey was carried out, one million more French people are leading solitary lives, with an estimated five million or 12 percent of the nation’s population aged over 18 now living without any social relations through family, friends, work or their community.[38]

See also: Atheistic France and loneliness

France has the 8th highest rate of atheism in the world with 43 - 54% of the population being atheists/agnostics/non-believers in God.[39]

In 2013, The Locale FR reported:

Loneliness is on the march in France and it is no longer an affliction that only blights elderly people, a worrying new survey by the organization Fondation de France revealed on Wednesday.

Since 2010, the last time the survey was carried out, one million more French people are leading solitary lives, with an estimated five million or 12 percent of the nation’s population aged over 18 now living without any social relations through family, friends, work or their community.[40]

Godless Germany and loneliness

According to the German Center of Gerontology (DZA), over 20 percent of Germans over the age of 70 are in regular contact with only one person -- or nobody.

One in four receives a visit less than once a month from friends and acquaintances, and nearly one in 10 is not visited by anyone anymore. Many old people have no one who still addresses them by their first name or asks them how they are doing.[41]

See also: Atheistic Germany and loneliness

Germany is one of the most atheistic countries in the world and the website adherents.com reports that 41-49% of Germans are agnostics/atheists/non-believers in God.[42]

In 2013, Spiegal Online International reported:

More than 2 million men and women in Germany over the age of 80 live alone, and most of them ended up isolated when their spouses died. Experts anticipate that their numbers will grow considerably thanks to today's increasing life expectancy. A study by Germany's Allensbach Institute finds that senior citizens in Germany are healthier and fitter than at any other time in history. Nevertheless, it's also true that people over the age of 70 spend an average of 17 hours a day alone -- longer than any other demographic group.

According to the German Center of Gerontology (DZA), over 20 percent of Germans over the age of 70 are in regular contact with only one person -- or nobody. One in four receives a visit less than once a month from friends and acquaintances, and nearly one in 10 is not visited by anyone anymore. Many old people have no one who still addresses them by their first name or asks them how they are doing. For many of them, soap opera actors have become a kind of substitute family.[43]

Atheistic Sweden and loneliness

Sweden is one of the most atheistic countries in the world.[44] In 2009, 42 percent of Swedes reported being lonely often or sometimes.[45]

See also: Atheistic Sweden and loneliness

Sweden is one of the most atheistic country in the world and the website adherents.com reported that in 2005 46 - 85% of Swedes were agnostics/atheists/non-believers in God.[46]

In 2009, 42 percent of Swedes reported being lonely often or sometimes.[47]

The Local SE reported in 2009 concerning Sweden:

Women experienced greater loneliness – and younger people more than older individuals.

When people were asked for the factors contributing to their loneliness, younger people attributed their social isolation to personality traits, such as being uninteresting or deviant. Older people cited a lack of close relationships and transportation to get out of the house.

People in their thirties experienced the greatest degree of isolation. “It might be that it is then that you are expected to have paired off, gotten married and had children. Not following that time line might lead to a sense of exclusion,” Tornstam said.[48]

Irreligious Finland and loneliness

President Tarja Halonen has characterised loneliness as a real and serious problem faced by all age groups in Finland.[49]

See also: Irreligious Finland and loneliness

According to a 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, 33% of Finnish citizens "believe there is a God". (In 2005, the figure was 41%).[30]

In 2011, a Finnish news website reported:

President Tarja Halonen has characterised loneliness as a real and serious problem faced by all age groups in Finland. Her comments came in a TV address opening the annual Collective Responsibility fundraising campaign.

She reminded her audience of their responsibility for relatives and others. Dialogue was the answer, she said. The President called for efforts to combat both loneliness and marginalisation during periods of economic hardship...

Change in society had been so rapid that support measures designed to help young people had not kept pace with modern society. Halonen demanded that all means be applied to promote the well being of youth and to protect them from marginalisation and other risk factors.[50]

According to the paper Loneliness among elderly people in Finnish health care institutions:

Loneliness contributes to major health problems among the elderly people and its associates

are still in dispute and nurses have a limited means to alleviate it. When people get older and experience different kinds of losses they are exposed to the threat of loneliness that might lead to death. Earlier research findings suggest that about a third of elderly Finnish people suffer from loneliness in Finnish health care institutions. Current Finnish president noted that there are more than a million people over the age of 65 in the country. Polls indicate that one third of them report feelings of loneliness. He defined the term loneliness as “means that one feels excluded and that life lacks meaning”.[51]

Finland, decriminalization of bestiality and loneliness

See also: Irreligious Finland and bestiality and Atheism and bestiality

A prominent Finnish news website reported in July of 2015:

Finland is indeed a last bastion of bestiality. Here a person can have sex with an animal as long as the animal is not harmed. The absence of legislation against bestiality makes the nation one of the last in the European Union not to institute a legal ban.

As the law currently stands in Finland, a person can engage in sexual intercourse with an animal as long as it cannot be proved that the animal has been treated too roughly or cruelly or that the act has caused unnecessary pain and suffering.

...Finland legalised bestiality in 1971, following in the footsteps of other European countries. It was thought that criminalising the act was not the right way to deal with people who are likely to suffer from mental illness or who are simply lonely.[52]

Irreligious Australia and loneliness

According to David Baker of the Australia Instritute 3 out of 10 Australians have experienced loneliness in the last 10 years.[53]

See also: Irreligious Australia and loneliness

After WWII, Australia has become a very secular country.[54]

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Australia is one of the least devout countries in the Western world, although two-thirds of its population identifies itself as Christian, an international survey comparing religious expression in 21 countries has found.

Religion does not play a central part in the lives of many Australians: 48 per cent of Australians surveyed said they did not partake in personal prayer and 52 per cent said they rarely attended a place of worship for religious reasons.[55]

In the 2011 Australian census, 22.3% of Australians (or 4,796,787 people) identified themselves as having "no religion" which was more than 3 percent higher (and 1,090,232 people more) than in the 2006 census and was the second largest category.[56] Another 2.014 million (9.4%) were in the "not-stated or inadequately-defined" category: thus more than 31% of Australians did not state a religious affiliation in the 2011 census.[57]

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in 2015:

About one third of Australians suffer from the sorrow of loneliness.

The deep ache of loneliness doesn't just affect us emotionally.

It has a very real impact on our physical health.

So much so that a new study of three million people has found that loneliness is as much of a threat to longevity as obesity.[58]

In 2012, the Sydney Morning Herald declared:

Yet, with almost a quarter of Australians living alone it is all too easy to live a lonely life.

This study last year found 35 per cent of Australian men and 29 per cent of Australian women report that loneliness is a serious problem for them.[59]

In 2012, the Sydney Herald also reported that "Many Australians are profoundly lonely and continue to be so for long periods of time."[60] According to David Baker of the Australia Institute, 3 out of 10 Australians have experienced loneliness in the last 10 years.[61]

Atheistic China and loneliness

China has the world's largest atheist population.[62]

See also: Atheistic China and loneliness

China has the world's largest atheist population, but Christianity is growing fast in China.[63]

China's gender imbalance and loneliness

A Foreign Policy magazine article entitled China’s ‘Hormone Economy’: Monetizing Male Loneliness declared:

China has approximately 40 million to 50 million single men and a highly skewed gender ratio among its younger population. It is perhaps not surprising that many sexually frustrated young men would take their hormone-charged impulses, and hard-earned renminbi, into cyberspace.[64]

Growth of Christianity in China and a reduction of loneliness

See also: Growth of Christianity in China

On November 1, 2014, an article in The Economist entitled Cracks in the atheist edifice declared:

Officials are untroubled by the clash between the city’s famously freewheeling capitalism and the Communist Party’s ideology, yet still see religion and its symbols as affronts to the party’s atheism...

Yang Fenggang of Purdue University, in Indiana, says the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. He reckons that on current trends there will be 250m Christians by around 2030, making China’s Christian population the largest in the world. Mr. Yang says this speed of growth is similar to that seen in fourth-century Rome just before the conversion of Constantine, which paved the way for Christianity to become the religion of his empire.[65]

National Public Radio on Christianity filling a spiritual void in China

As far as filling an emptiness that many Chinese feel inside, National Public Radio's article Chinese Turn To Religion To Fill A Spiritual Vacuum declares:

The collapse of the communist ideology created a void that has left many Chinese staring into a spiritual vacuum, looking for a value system to counterbalance the rampant materialism that seems to govern life in China.

"Chinese people don't know what to believe in anymore," says Liu Zhongyu, a professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai, who conducted the survey. "And since the political atmosphere has relaxed, they turn to religion for comfort."

One young evangelical Christian missionary travels from rural village to village in the Protestant heartland in eastern China to proselytize. She attributed her own conversion to the overwhelming pressures of China's education system.

"In high school, I felt very depressed," said the bright-eyed young woman, who gave her name as Nicole. "I felt people had no direction, and I felt life was dry and boring. I felt the pressure of school was very high. God helped me and liberated me." [66]

National Review on China's atheistic communist persecution of Christians and its effects

National Review wrote on China's atheistic communist persecution of Christians:

But the Chinese government engages in a risky game by attacking Christianity’s soft capital. Maoist communism destroyed Chinese civil society, creating widespread distrust and isolation while undermining the nation’s moral foundation. Today’s China is plagued by widespread mistrust and loneliness, as well as pervasive corruption and greed.[67]

China's atheist leader's one child policy and economic changes contributing to loneliness

A 2012 BBC article entitled Fear and loneliness in China reported:

For many in China isolation is a new experience brought on by economic transformation. In the neighbourhoods where I worked in Chongqing and Beijing, loneliness was spreading like pollution.

The new leadership scheduled to be announced in November will not just have to address failing economic growth and foreign policy dilemmas such as regional territorial disputes, but also the absence of a social safety net, the consequences of the one-child policy and the unhappiness of migrants to cities and factories...

For many in China isolation is a new experience brought on by economic transformation...

Millions of mostly young people have moved to the east coast to work in factories and live itinerant and restricted lives. The hours are long and the work is repetitive....

Suicide rates are so high in some of these factories that the owners have put nets around them to break the fall of people jumping out of windows....

Back home the parents of these "factory girls" are left alone to grow old without the care of their children - breaking a long Confucian tradition of caring for elders...

The one child policy has made children lonely too.[68]

American atheists and loneliness

The American atheist PZ Myers declared, "...I don’t object to bestiality in a very limited set of specific conditions..."[69][70] See: Atheism and bestiality

(photo obtained from Flickr, see license agreement)

See also: Atheism and arrogance and Atheism and bitterness and American atheism

Americans typically have a very negative view of atheists and they are often seen as lacking moral character and very arrogant (see also: Views on atheists and Atheism and morality and Atheist population and immorality and Atheism and arrogance).

In his article entitled The Lonely Life of an American Atheist, Alfred Garcia wrote:

...life remains hard for non-theists in the United States. There is, of course, the cultural stigma—of being nontheistic in a nation where more than 90 percent of people believe in a higher power. There is only one openly atheist member of Congress, Rep. Peter Stark from California (who had a video appearance at the Reason Rally). Atheists are viewed more negatively than any other U.S. religious group, with less than half of Americans (45 percent) holding a favorable opinion of them. It can be a lonely existence. With no single umbrella organization to bring non-theists together, individuals can feel isolated, compounded by the fact that the various non-theist organizations are often fragmented in their approaches....

What has not changed much, though, is the image of the non-theist that O’Hair left in her wake. It’s the image of the atheist out to pick a fight, the unbeliever who is constantly seeking the next debate. As Fidalgo from CFI put it, O’Hair was an “extremely polarizing” figure who “gained visibility for American Atheists but may have been integral in forming the image of atheism in the U.S. as arrogant.”[71]

Dr. Ken Eisold wrote at Psychology Today about American atheism: "The FT reporter commented: 'As I found out when I travelled across the US last year, atheists live in isolation and secrecy all over the country.'"[72]

Atheism, rural America and loneliness

See also: Urbanization and separation from nature as a causal factor for atheism and Causes of atheism

Rural Americans tend to be more religious. Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation indicates: "It’s still lonely being an atheist in rural America."[73]

African-American atheists and loneliness

See also: Western atheism and race and Black atheism

National Public Radio interviewed the African-American atheist Jamila Bey and the host of the interview said:

...for a couple of centuries, African-American culture has been imbued with Christianity. The church figured prominently in both the abolitionist and civil rights movements. And today in many communities, the Christian church continues to be the nucleus of black life.

So, what about the black nonbelievers? It's one isolating experience, according to Jamila Bey.[74]

Atheism and suicide

The Rev. Dr. Robert Stuart MacArthur was an early proponent of atheism being a causal factor for suicide.[75][76][77]

See also: Atheism and suicide and Atheism and depression

The American Journal of Psychiatry reported:

Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation. Unaffiliated subjects were younger, less often married, less often had children, and had less contact with family members. Furthermore, subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide. In terms of clinical characteristics, religiously unaffiliated subjects had more lifetime impulsivity, aggression, and past substance use disorder. No differences in the level of subjective and objective depression, hopelessness, or stressful life events were found.[78]

In 1894, the NY Times declared regarding atheism and suicide:

Dr. Martin urged that a great cause of suicide was atheism. It was, he said, a remarkable fact that where atheism prevailed most, there suicides were most numerous. In Paris, a recent census showed one suicide to every 2,700 of the population. [79]

Atheism, loneliness and uncharitableness

See also: Atheism and uncharitableness and Atheism, uncharitableness and depression

One way people combat loneliness is to do volunteer work or to be a volunteer who visits lonely people such as the elderly. In the United States, the atheist population does less charitable works and volunteering per capita than the theist population (see: Atheism and uncharitableness).

Views on atheists in theistic nations

See also: Views on atheists and Atheism and social outcasts

Atheism is unpopular and looked down upon in many theistic nations. For example, in the United States and Canada, the public generally has a low opinion of atheists (see: Views on atheists). Furthermore, people who join unpopular ideologies, religions and cults are prepared to be social outcasts (see also: Atheist cults).[80]

Dr. Sam Harris is a founder of the New Atheism movement. Sam Harris is quite aware of the stigma surrounding atheism and has even advocated that atheists no longer call themselves atheists.[81] In fact, Dr. Harris has said concerning the label of atheist, "It's right next to child molester as a designation."[81]

Research in the American Sociological Review finds that among several groups listed, atheists are the group that Americans relate least to in terms of their vision of American society and are the group most likely to be mentioned as one that Americans would not want to have marry into their family. [82]

Americans and Canadians distrust atheists as much as rapists

See also: Atheism and rape

On December 10, 2011, USA Today reported in a story entitled Study: Atheists distrusted as much as rapists:

The study, conducted among 350 Americans adults and 420 Canadian college students, asked participants to decide if a fictional driver damaged a parked car and left the scene, then found a wallet and took the money, was the driver more likely to be a teacher, an atheist teacher, or a rapist teacher?

The participants, who were from religious and nonreligious backgrounds, most often chose the atheist teacher.

The study is part of an attempt to understand what needs religion fulfills in people. Among the conclusions is a sense of trust in others.

"People find atheists very suspect," Shariff said. "They don't fear God so we should distrust them; they do not have the same moral obligations of others. This is a common refrain against atheists. People fear them as a group."[83]

Friendly Atheist blog on atheism and loneliness

The blog The Friendly Atheist had this to say about atheism and loneliness"

If people do get lonely...I can understand why they might turn to God. They want someone to talk to, someone who might “listen” back.

I wonder if there are atheists out there who ever feel lonely. What do you do to fill that void?[84]

Antitheism and loneliness

An antitheist wrote to the leading secular humanist website The Humanist:

Lately, I have developed intolerance for religion, and have decided to be vocal about my opinions. I have always tried to preach compassion and humanity for everyone, but no longer feel like that is applicable to religion. I cannot tolerate blatant ignorance, and that is all religious dogma is to me.

Here is my problem: Nearly everyone I know has some type of religious affiliation. This has caused many problems for me because...I do not have any social or moral support. I knew that this decision would cause me to lose friends and family; I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for is the effects it would have on ME. The only type of discussion I get to have on atheism is when a theist gets offended by something I post on my Facebook wall, or when my mom tells me that I will “believe again when I have children.” I constantly feel like I have to defend myself, as if I can explain the subject matter in a way that they would understand. Something I am becoming so passionate about is becoming a negative part of my life.[85]

Social science research indicates that antitheists score the highest among atheists when it comes to personality traits such as narcissism, dogmatism, and anger.[86][87] Furthermore, they scored lowest when it comes to agreeableness and positive relations with others.[88]

Ostracization of atheists and inappropriate behavior

See also: Views on atheists

The American atheist Richard Carrier wrote: "...atheists know better than anyone else on the planet, if you say you don’t believe you often become a social outcast." (Carrier recently divorced his wife subsequent to him engaging in adultery. See: Richard Carrier, adultery, divorce and polyamory).[89]

The social ostracism of atheists in countries which are predominantly theists is often brought on by the atheists themselves through: inappropriate behavior (see: Militant atheism and Atheist bullying), their arrogance (see also: Atheism and arrogance), the often angry and bitter demeanor of militant atheists (see: Militant atheism and anger) and their bizarre beliefs (see also: Irreligion and superstition) which they want to foist on others though public school systems.[90] Nevertheless, atheists often have a "victim complex" (see: Atheist whining).[91]

See also:

Cali Elise Greksa wrote in her 2015 University of Colorado paper wrote:

Although levels of stigma against an individual or group can vary in intensity, historically, there has been and continues to be a certain level of stigma and societal unacceptance of atheists. This informs the idea that to be an atheist is to claim a stigmatized and embattled identity. Campbell explains the significant development during the Victorian era that shaped the current societal consciousness toward atheists:
The Victorian caricature of the atheist as a depraved, friendless and tortured soul has left its mark on the collective consciousness of contemporary society (and equally upon contemporary sociology) in the form of a tendency to view his modern counterpart as an aggressively nonconforming and neurotic person who is alienated from his social milieu. (1972:39)

These ideas of the atheist as “depraved,” “friendless,” and so on, are important to understand when exploring the atheist identity as embattled and stigmatized.[92]

An atheist at Think Atheism on loneliness

Jeffrey Lang wrote: “No one knows loneliness like an atheist. When an average person feels isolated, he can call through the depths of his soul to One who knows him and sense an answer."[93]

Artwork: Loneliness by Hans Thoma

An atheist posted at the website Think Atheism:

I've been an atheist less than a year, and I have to say that it has been one of the loneliest of my life. Even surrounded by people, I have never felt more intellectually alone. The closest thing that I have to spirituality is an awed feeling of the universe, its beauty, and our place in it. But yet I'm not surrounded by anyone that I can physically see or touch to share that feeling of awe with...

I love it that we have online places such as ThinkAtheist that we can go to to interact when we can't with the people around us, but at times like this I still feel really lonely...

Just for once I'd like to meet someone who's open-minded enough to envision a life without any gods, and who has critically thought about what they believe and why. I'm kind of a loner, but I would at least like to meet one person in my area who doesn't make me feel like my life should feel empty without a god hovering over me telling me every little thing I should do.[94]

Christianity and CNN's friendliest cities in the United States

In 2014, CNN compiled a list of the 10 most friendly cities in the United States.[95] 8 of the 10 cities were in the southern part of the United States where there is a high concentration of conservative Christians.[96] The remaining two areas were Telluride, Colorado and Jackson Hole, Wyoming (both Colorado and Wyoming have areas of their states where there are high concentrations of Christians and these two particular areas have small populations. Small town America is known for its religiosity and its friendliness.[97]

Quotes about atheism and loneliness

“No one knows loneliness like an atheist. When an average person feels isolated, he can call through the depths of his soul to One who knows him and sense an answer. An atheist cannot allow himself that luxury, for he has to crush the urge and remind himself of its absurdity.” - Jeffrey Lang[98]

"Nietzsche saw no vast mind behind the framing of the world; no transcending voice giving counsel to this world, he saw no light at the end of the tunnel, he felt the loneliness of existence in its most desolate form." - Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism, p. 27

Contrast of the loneliness of atheism: Christian love, fellowship and joy

Jesus Christ and his apostles taught a gospel of love.[99] For example, the New Testament teaches that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

See also: Atheism and loneliness vs. Christian love, fellowship and joy

In his article The Triumph of the Gospel of Love, Monk Themistocles (Adamopoulo) wrote:

It is generally agreed by scholars and saints that the teaching of "love" and charity represent one of the essential dimensions of the Gospel of Jesus and the Gospel of Paul. Accordingly, from the extant words and parables of Jesus many concern themselves with the message of love. For example on the Sunday of Meat Fare, from the Gospel of Matthew, we hear Jesus identifying Himself and in solidarity with the destitute, the suffering, the rejected and the oppressed, calling for and rewarding altruistic philanthropy:

"... I was hungry and you fed me, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, when I was a stranger you took me in, when naked you clothed me, when I was ill you came to my help, when in prison you visited me ... I tell you this anything you did for one of my brothers here, however humble, you did it for me." (Matt 25:35-36, 40)...

Christians undertook a great deal of almsgiving to the poor not only to fellow believers but to pagans as well. So amazed was the anti-Christian pagan emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363 AD), with the sheer benevolence and excellence of Christian philanthropy that he was forced to admit in wonder their superiority over paganism in matters of charity:

"These godless Galileans (ie. Christians) feed not only their own poor but ours: our poor lack our care" (Ep. Sozom. 5:16).[100]

African Christians clapping at an open air meeting.

Got Questions Ministry writes about Christian fellowship:

Koinonia is a Greek word that occurs 20 times in the Bible. Koinonia’s primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of koinonia is Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia.

Philippians 2:1-2 declares, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Koinonia is being in agreement with one another, being united in purpose, and serving alongside each other. Our koinonia with each other is based on our common koinonia with Jesus Christ. First John 1:6-7 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”[101]

In December of 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.[102]

The ex-atheist C.S. Lewis became a Christian and wrote a book entitled Surprised by Joy.[103]

Recommended books

  • Atheism and Alienation by Patrick Masterson, Gill and MacMillan, January 1, 1971, ISBN-10: 0717105016, ISBN-13: 978-0717105014

See also

External links

Notes

  1. Bainbridge, William (2005). "Atheism" (PDF). Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. 1 (Article 2): 1–26.
  2. Baylor ISR- J. Gordon Melton - End of Religion? (May 5, 2015)
  3. Multiple references:
    • Gammon, Katherine (March 2, 2012). "Why loneliness can be deadly". Live Science website.
    • Booth, Robert (October 12, 2014). "Number of severely lonely men over 50 set to rise to 1m in 15 years", The Guardian.
  4. [http://www.livescience.com/18800-loneliness-health-problems.html Why Loneliness Can Be Deadly] by Katherine Harmon, Live Science Contributor, March 02, 2012 02:24pm ET
  5. Whoever I Don’t Like Is Ruining the Atheist Movement by Jeremiah Traeger
  6. Reasonably Controversial: How the Regressive Left Is Killing the Atheist Movement by David Smalley
  7. Lee Moore and Steve Shives Talk About the Future of the Atheist Movement, video, quote comes at the 11 minute and 44 seconds point of the video
  8. Herding Cats: Why Atheism Will Lose by Francois Tremblay
  9. Amanda (August 10, 2012). "How the atheist movement failed me–part 1: cost". Friendly Atheist blog. Retrieved on September 9, 2014.
  10. Norris, Chuck (May 21, 2007). "How to outlaw Christianity (steps 2 & 3)". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved on September 9, 2014. See Chuck Norris.
  11. Whoever I Don’t Like Is Ruining the Atheist Movement by Jeremiah Traeger
  12. Reasonably Controversial: How the Regressive Left Is Killing the Atheist Movement by David Smalley
  13. #ReasonRally Crash n burn. Thanks SJWs! by Thunderf00t
  14. Reasonably Controversial: How the Regressive Left Is Killing the Atheist Movement by David Smalley
  15. Secularists on Thought for the Day will expose the loneliness of atheism, Guy Stagg, The Telegraph, Last updated: April 3rd, 2012
  16. Atheists Online: -How Atheists Grew An Active Internet Community, Conatus News
  17. The Loneliness of American Society, Janice Shaw Crouse, The American Spectator
  18. The Pillars of Unbelief by Peter Kreeft
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  26. Is Modern life making us more lonely, BBC, 8 April 2013
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  28. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  29. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
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  31. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  32. India Anthropologist Finds Denmark Wanting : Research: He laments the loneliness and lack of human values in remote village and asks if prosperity can be achieved without such sacrifices, LA Times archives, June 20, 1993, CHRISTOPHER FOLLETT, REUTERS
  33. India Anthropologist Finds Denmark Wanting : Research: He laments the loneliness and lack of human values in remote village and asks if prosperity can be achieved without such sacrifices, LA Times archives, June 20, 1993|CHRISTOPHER FOLLETT | REUTERS
  34. [Number of severely lonely men over 50 set to rise to 1m in 15 years], The Guardian, Robert Booth,Sunday 12 October 2014 19.01 EDT
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  36. Britain the loneliness capital of Europe
  37. [Number of severely lonely men over 50 set to rise to 1m in 15 years], The Guardian, Robert Booth,Sunday 12 October 2014 19.01 EDT
  38. More and more French living lonely lives, The Local FR, Published: 26 Jun 2013 15:44 GMT+02:00
  39. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  40. More and more French living lonely lives, The Local FR, Published: 26 Jun 2013 15:44 GMT+02:00
  41. Alone by the Millions: Isolation Crisis Threatens German Seniors By Guido Kleinhubbert and Antje Windmann
  42. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  43. Alone by the Millions: Isolation Crisis Threatens German Seniors By Guido Kleinhubbert and Antje Windmann
  44. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  45. Fewer Swedes feeling lonely: study, Published: 23 Jun 2009 08:00 GMT+02:00
  46. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  47. Fewer Swedes feeling lonely: study, Published: 23 Jun 2009 08:00 GMT+02:00
  48. Fewer Swedes feeling lonely: study, Published: 23 Jun 2009 08:00 GMT+02:00
  49. President Halonen: "Loneliness a Real Problem in Finland", News 6.2.2011 14:17 | updated 6.6.2012 7:49
  50. President Halonen: "Loneliness a Real Problem in Finland", News 6.2.2011 14:17 | updated 6.6.2012 7:49
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  52. Yes, in Finland you can have sex with your pet, July 14, 2015
  53. Many Australians are profoundly lonely and continue to be so for long periods of time. David Baker says help may be just around the corner
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  57. Irreligion in Ausralia
  58. Why the lonely stay lonely, Sydney Morning Herald
  59. Loneliness: a 'substitution fantasy' gone wrong, Sydney Morning Herald, Date May 3, 2012
  60. Many Australians are profoundly lonely and continue to be so for long periods of time. David Baker says help may be just around the corner
  61. Many Australians are profoundly lonely and continue to be so for long periods of time. David Baker says help may be just around the corner
  62. China’s ‘Hormone Economy’: Monetizing Male Loneliness, Foreign Policy Magazine
  63. Cracks in the atheist edifice, The Economist, November 1, 2014
  64. Chinese Turn To Religion To Fill A Spiritual Vacuum, National Public Radio, July 18, 2010
  65. China Still Persecuting Christians, by Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review, February 19, 2014 1:39 PM
  66. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-19827537 Fear and loneliness in China], 16 October 2012 Last updated at 19:23 ET
  67. Atheist Achilles Heels: Objective Morality and Sacred Life
  68. The “objective morality” gotcha
  69. The Lonely Life of an American Atheist by Alfred Garcia, Religion and Politics
  70. The Fear of Atheism: One Nation Under God by Dr. Ken Eisold, Psychology Today
  71. Atheists in the Bible Belt: A survival guide, CNN
  72. Black Atheists Say Non-Belief Means Cultural Outsider, NPR, May 28, 201012:00 PM ET
  73. http://www.adherents.com/misc/religion_suicide.html
  74. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/12/2303
  75. NY Times, September 17, 1894, ATHEISM A CAUSE OF SUICIDE.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
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  77. NY Times, September 17, 1894, Atheism a Cause of Suicide.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
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  82. [http://cp.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2009/02/02/do-atheists-ever-get-lonely/ Do Atheists Ever Get Lonely?
  83. The Ethical Dilemma: The Lonely Atheist
  84. Science Shows New Atheists to be Mean and Closed-Minded
  85. Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind by JONATHAN HAIDT, February 3, 2014 8:36 pm
  86. Science Shows New Atheists to be Mean and Closed-Minded
  87. Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism By Richard Carrier, page 269
  88. *Richard Carrier on social outcasting
  89. Richard Carrier on social outcasting
  90. [The Atheist Experience: A Sociological Approach to Atheist Identity in College Students] by Cali Elise Greksa, University of Colorado Boulder, 2015
  91. Goodreads, Jeffrey Lang
  92. So Lonely as an atheist, post at Think Atheist
  93. Friendliest/unfriendliest U.S. cities, according to Conde Nast Traveler By Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNN, Updated 7:19 AM ET, Thu August 7, 2014
  94. Friendliest/unfriendliest U.S. cities, according to Conde Nast Traveler By Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNN, Updated 7:19 AM ET, Thu August 7, 2014
  95. Friendliest/unfriendliest U.S. cities, according to Conde Nast Traveler By Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNN, Updated 7:19 AM ET, Thu August 7, 2014
  96. Goodreads, Jeffrey Lang
  97. The Triumph of the Gospel of Love by Monk Themistocles ((Adamopoulo)
  98. The Triumph of the Gospel of Love by Monk Themistocles ((Adamopoulo)
  99. What is koinonia?
  100. University of Warwick (December 2003). "Psychology researcher [Dr. Stephen Joseph] says spiritual meaning of Christmas brings more happiness than materialism". Scienceblog. Retrieved on July 24, 2014.
  101. Suprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis Documentary