Atheism and depression

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Atheists have a higher suicide rate than theists.[1] Please see: Atheism and suicide

Concerning atheism and depression, a University of Michigan study involving 19,775 individuals found that religious people are less likely than atheists to suffer depression when they are lonely.[2] See also: Atheism and suicide

The Telegraph reported: "Patients with a strong “intrinsic faith” (a deep personal belief, not just a social inclination to go to a place of worship) recover 70 per cent faster from depression than those who are not deeply religious."[3]

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

In December 2003, the University of Warwick reported: "Dr. Stephen Joseph, from the University of Warwick, said: 'Religious people seem to have a greater purpose in life, which is why they are happier. Looking at the research evidence, it seems that those who celebrate the Christian meaning of Christmas are on the whole likely to be happier.""[4]

See also: Atheism and happiness and Atheism and Christmas

There is considerable amount of scientific evidence that suggest that theism is more conducive to mental and physical health than atheism. (see also: Atheism and health).

Mayo Clinic, university studies, and other research

The prestigious Mayo Clinic found that that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life and other health outcomes.[5]

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

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

The authors report a majority of the nearly 350 studies of physical health and 850 studies of mental health that have used religious and spiritual variables have found that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes.[6]

Duke University has established the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.[7] The Duke University Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health is based in the Center for Aging at Duke and gives opportunities for scholarly trans-disciplinary conversation and the development of collaborative research projects.[8] In respect to the atheism and mental and physical health, the center offers many studies which suggest that theism is more beneficial than atheism.[9]

See also: Atheism and emotional problems

Atheism and suicide

See also: Atheism and suicide

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.[10][11][12]

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."[13]

The same NY Times article quotes the Reverend Dr. MacArthur describes 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."[14]

The website 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."[15]

Ex-Christians, self-esteem and suicide

See also: Ex-Christians, self-esteem and suicide and Atheism and self-esteem and Richard Dawkins and Jesse Kilgore

There are preliminary studies indicating that individuals who reject Christianity in Western cultures have lower self-esteem than the Christian population.[16][17] There are also studies indicating that lower self-esteem is associated with suicidality.[18][19]

Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" along with a community college biology class, have been linked to the tragic suicide of Jesse Kilgore.[20] 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.[21][22][23][24]

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.[25]

Atheism, uncharitableness and depression

see also: Atheism, uncharitableness and depression

Atheist Sikivu Hutchinson says that atheist organizations generally focus on church/state separation and creationism issues and not on the concerns the less affluent African-American population faces.[26] Hutchinson also mentioned that church organizations significantly help poor African-Americans.[27] See also: Atheism and uncharitablenss

A number of studies have confirmed that there is an inverse relationship to doing volunteer work and depression.[28] 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 and Atheism and suicide

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).[29][30][31]

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.[32]

Atheism, marriage and suicide

See also: Atheism and marriageability and Atheism and suicide 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."[33]

According to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) over 50% of all atheists and agnostics don’t get married.[34] The fertility rate is significantly lower in the atheist population (see: Atheism and fertility rates).

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).[35]

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.[36]

Atheism, depression and genetics

See also: Atheists and genetic mutations

The English anthropologist Edward Dutton indicates that religious people are genetically disposed to suffer less depression.[37] See also: Atheists and genetic mutations

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."[38] 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.[39]

Although Bertrand Russell was an agnostic, he had favorable views of atheism.[40] 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." [41]

Atheists, motivation, depression and dopamine levels in the brain

See also: Atheism and motivation and Atheism and inspiration and Atheism and the brain

According to Scientific American: "Research also suggests that a religious brain exhibits higher levels of dopamine, a hormone associated with increased attention and motivation."[42] See: Atheism and motivation

For more information, please see: Atheism, depression, suicide and dopamine levels in the brain and Atheism and the brain

Atheism, penile cancer and depression

See: Atheism, penile cancer and depression

Atheist David Silverman and depression

See also: Firing of David Silverman from the American Atheists organization

David Silverman, ex-president of the American Atheists and author of the book Fighting God, told atheist David Smalley in an interview that he suffers from depression and that he doubts his self-worth.[43]

On October 2, 2019, Silverman indicated the experience of being accused of sexual harrassment, being fired from the American Atheist organization and losing many of his former atheist friends caused him a "horrific level of pain" that "damaged" him and that he now has textbook symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.[44] In addition, he had suicidal thoughts.[45] Furthermore, he said he now takes medication and he is still a damaged person.[46] See also: Firing of David Silverman from the American Atheists organization

Solution to atheism and depression

See also: Resources for leaving atheism and becoming a Christian and Christian joy, atheist despair and the good news of the gospel

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: "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.[47]

Christian Joy

Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann.

See also: Resources for leaving atheism and becoming a Christian

The Reverend Bruce Goettsche writes:

Our study of the book of Philippians focuses on the pursuit of joy. But before we can pursue joy we must have some kind of an understanding what this joy is. What does a joyful person look like? How do you distinguish a joyful person from a happy person, or a giddy person, or a foolish person?

...Joy is something that is unaffected by circumstances. It is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. Joy is deep. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. This morning we continue our study of the first 11 verses of Philippians chapter one. And in these verses we can get a good start on understanding some of the characteristics of Christian joy.

In the opening words following the salutation Paul writes,

'I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,. . . . It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-5, 7-8)'

Paul tells the Philippians that he has been praying for them. But he doesn't just pray, he prays with joy.

...we have seen some of the characteristics of a joyful Christian Heart. It is a shared joy. It is not something that is isolated and individual, it is a joy we share with millions around the world and makes us part of a tremendous movement of God.

It is also a joy that is anchored in God's work and promise.[48]

See also

External links


  1. - suicide rates
  2. Lonely religious people are less depressed than atheists because they see God as a friend replacement, study finds, Daily Mail, 2018
  3. What God does to your brain by Julia Llewellyn Smith. The Telegraph, 20 Jun 2014
  12. NY Times, September 17, 1894, ATHEISM A CAUSE OF SUICIDE.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
  13. NY Times, September 17, 1894, Atheism a Cause of Suicide.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
  14. NY Times, September 17, 1894, ATHEISM A CAUSE OF SUICIDE.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
  24. NY Times, September 17, 1894, ATHEISM A CAUSE OF SUICIDE.; Dr. MacArthur Preaches on the Sin and Cowardice of Self-Destruction
  26. Atheism has a big race problem that no one’s talking about by Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, Washington Post June 16, 2014
  27. Atheism has a big race problem that no one’s talking about by Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, Washington Post June 16, 2014
  28. Review of Key Studies on Caring/Volunteering
  37. [Why are Conservative Girls So Attractive and Liberal Girls So Ugly?] by Edward Dutton
  39. Where are the honest atheists?
  40. Russell, Bertrand (1947) "Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic?"[1] Most online sources say "by which one prove," probably a mistake.
  41. Entropy and heat death
  42. Ask the Brains, Scientific American, Dec 23, 2011
  43. David Smalley On Social Justice In Atheism, go to the 1 hour 1 minutes and 18 second mark of the video]
  44. Our Disharmony w/ David Silverman & the "Atheist Movement"
  45. Our Disharmony w/ David Silverman & the "Atheist Movement"
  46. Our Disharmony w/ David Silverman & the "Atheist Movement"