Atheism and suicide

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Pitzer College sociologist Phil Zuckerman declared concerning suicide rates: "this is the one indicator of societal health in which religious nations fare much better than secular nations."

Concerning atheism and suicide, although there are recent studies relating to atheism being a causal factor for suicide in some individuals, an early proponent of atheism being a causal factor for suicide in some individuals was the Reverend Dr. Robert Stuart MacArthur.[1][2][3]

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. After the publication of Paine's "Age of Reason" suicides increased.[4]

The same NY Times article quotes the Reverend Dr. MacArthur describing suicide in the following manner:

It is mean and not manly; it is dastardly and not daring. A man who involves his innocent wife and children in financial disaster and disgrace and takes his life and leaves them to bear the burden he was unwilling to bear, is a coward.[5]

In 2004, the American Journal of Psychiatry reported the following:

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.[6]
The Rev. Dr. Robert Stuart MacArthur was an early proponent of atheism being a causal factor for suicide.[7][8][9]

The website Adherents.com reported the following in respect to 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."[10]

Contents

Ex-Christians, self-esteem and suicide

See also: Ex-Christians, self-esteem and suicide and Atheism and depression and Atheism and self-esteem and Ex-atheists

There are preliminary studies indicating that individuals who reject Christianity in Western cultures have lower self-esteem than the Christian population.[11][12] There are also studies indicating that lower self-esteem is associated with suicidality.[13][14]

Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" along with a community college biology class, have been linked to the tragic suicide of Jesse Kilgore.[15] Kilgore had several discussions with friends and relatives in which he made it clear Dawkins' book had destroyed his belief in God. This loss of faith is considered the cause of his suicide which is not surprising given that there is evidence which suggest that atheism can be a causal factor for suicide for some individuals.

Jesse's father is quoted as saying "If my son was a professing homosexual, and a professor challenged him to read [a book called] 'Preventing Homosexuality'… If my son was gay and [the book] made him feel bad, hopeless, and he killed himself, and that came out in the press, there would be an outcry. He would have been a victim of a hate crime and the professor would have been forced to undergo sensitivity training, and there may have even been a wrongful death lawsuit. But because he's a Christian, I don't even get a return telephone call."

Jesse's blog remains online after his death.[16]

Atheism, uncharitableness and depression

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

According to a study by the Barna Group regarding charitable giving:"The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is more than seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500). Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics."[17]

A number of studies have confirmed that there is an inverse relationship to doing volunteer work and depression.[18] The atheist population does less charitable works and volunteering per capita than the theist population (see: Atheism and uncharitableness).

Atheism, gender and suicide

See also: Atheism, gender and suicide and Atheism appears to be significantly less appealing to women

Survey data and website tracking data of prominent atheists' websites indicate that in the Western World, atheism appears to be significantly less appealing to women (see: Atheism appears to be significantly less appealing to women).[19][20][21]

Science Daily reports:

Many studies have identified a strong link between suicide and diagnosable mental illness, especially depression. So because women suffer from depression at a much higher rate than men, they would seem to be at higher risk for suicide. But women actually commit suicide about one-fourth as often as men.[22]

Atheism, marriage and suicide

See also: Atheism and marriageability and Atheism, marriage and suicide

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.[23]

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."[24]

According the website Marriage and Family Encyclopedia:

Marital status has a strong association with rates of completed suicide. Suicide rates are higher in the divorced and widowed than in single people, who in turn have higher suicide rates than married people. This protective effect of marriage on suicide is stronger for men than for women, although it is found for both men and women (Gove 1972).[25]

Solution to atheism and suicide

See also: Resources for leaving atheism and becoming a Christian

Australian online opinion writer and lecturer in ethics and philosophy at several Melbourne theological colleges, Bill Muehlenberg, in his essay The Unbearable Heaviness of Being (In a World Without God) states the following:

Announcing, and believing, that God is dead has consequences. And it is we who suffer the most for it. We cannot bear the whole universe on our shoulders. We were not meant to. We must let God be God. Only then can men be men. Only then can we find the way forward to be possible, and the burdens not insurmountable.[26]

Atheism and European suicide in the 17th century

See also: Atheism and European suicide in the 17th century

Chandak Sengoopta, in a book review of Georges Minois's work History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture wrote:

Suicide became a prominent issue in England from the turn of the seventeenth century. The number of suicides, it was reported, had risen alarmingly and in the preface to his 1733 work, The English Malady, physician George Cheyne declared that he had been spurred to write it "by the late Frequency and daily Encrease of wanton and uncommon self-murders" (p. 181). According to Cheyne, the spread of atheism as well as the gloomy, melancholy-inducing climate of England were responsible for the rise in suicides; while his explanations were not always accepted, virtually nobody seems to have doubted that England had become the world capital of suicides. As Minois explains, there undoubtedly was a rise in the rates of reported suicides but, as far as one can tell from the available data, it was a European rather than an exclusively English phenomenon.[27]

Hopelessness of atheism

See also: Hopelessness of atheism

An essay by the Christian apologist Dr. James Spiegel describes Bertrand Russell as a "misogynistic and a serial adulterer; a chronic seducer of women, especially very young women, even in his old age."[28] See also: Atheism and morality

On March 8, 2013, Damon Linker wrote in The Week:

If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we're alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.[29]

Although Bertrand Russell was an agnostic, he had favorable views of atheism.[30] Bertrand Russell wrote in 1903 about entropy and the universe:

That man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.

"Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding dispair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built." [31]

Atheism contrasted with Christianity

Unlike atheism which merely offers vanity and unrelenting despair, Christianity offers an accurate view of the universe and man's place in it. For more information, please see: Christian joy, atheist despair and the good news of Christianity and Resources for leaving atheism and becoming a Christian and Evidence for Christianity

Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion and the death of Jesse Kilgore

See also: Richard Dawkins and Jesse Kilgore and Atheism and depression and Atheism and Mental and Physical Health

Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" along with a community college biology class, have been linked to the tragic suicide of Jesse Kilgore.[32] Kilgore had several discussions with friends and relatives in which he made it clear Dawkins' book had destroyed his belief in God. This loss of faith is considered the cause of his suicide which is not surprising given that there is evidence which suggest that atheism can be a causal factor for suicide for some individuals.[33][34][35]

Jesse's father is quoted as saying "If my son was a professing homosexual, and a professor challenged him to read [a book called] 'Preventing Homosexuality'… If my son was gay and [the book] made him feel bad, hopeless, and he killed himself, and that came out in the press, there would be an outcry. He would have been a victim of a hate crime and the professor would have been forced to undergo sensitivity training, and there may have even been a wrongful death lawsuit. But because he's a Christian, I don't even get a return telephone call."

Jesse's blog remains online after his death.[36]

See also

Other:

External links

Notes

  1. http://www.adherents.com/misc/religion_suicide.html
  2. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/12/2303
  3. NY Times, September 17, 1894, ATHEISM A CAUSE OF SUICIDE.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
  4. NY Times, September 17, 1894, Atheism a Cause of Suicide.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
  5. NY Times, September 17, 1894, ATHEISM A CAUSE OF SUICIDE.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
  6. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/12/2303
  7. http://www.adherents.com/misc/religion_suicide.html
  8. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/12/2303
  9. NY Times, September 17, 1894, ATHEISM A CAUSE OF SUICIDE.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
  10. http://www.adherents.com/misc/religion_suicide.html
  11. http://atheistwatch.blogspot.com/2010/10/rejection-of-christianity-and-self.html
  12. http://atheistwatch.blogspot.com/2010/10/atheists-and-self-esteem-part-2.html
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21190929
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20602903
  15. http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=81459
  16. http://users.newblog.com/Jkrapture/?post_id=17727
  17. Atheists and Agnostics Take Aim at Christians The Barna Update, 2007.
  18. http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/caring/caring-and-happiness-reviews/
  19. http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/reports/NONES_08.pdf
  20. http://www.livescience.com/culture/090227-religion-men-women.html
  21. http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_appears_to_be_significantly_less_appealing_to_women
  22. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981112075159.htm
  23. http://creation.com/atheism
  24. http://creation.com/atheism
  25. http://family.jrank.org/pages/1659/Suicide-Marital-Status-Family.html#ixzz1RJRmwSPF
  26. http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/05/26/the-unbearable-heaviness-of-being-in-a-world-without-god/
  27. http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=3213
  28. The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief By James Spiegel, page 72, Moody Publishers, 2010
  29. Where are the honest atheists?
  30. Russell, Bertrand (1947) "Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic?"[1] Most online sources say "by which one prove," probably a mistake.
  31. Entropy and heat death
  32. http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=81459
  33. http://www.adherents.com/misc/religion_suicide.html
  34. http://www.adherents.com/misc/religion_suicide.html
  35. NY Times, September 17, 1894, ATHEISM A CAUSE OF SUICIDE.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
  36. http://users.newblog.com/Jkrapture/?post_id=17727
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