Like Smoking, Atheism is a Health Hazard
Posted by Mats on 15/03/2010
June 24, 2008 <!–Justin–>
Okay, so maybe it isn’t a direct health hazard to be atheist, but studies show that theism could be conducive to better mental and physical health. For instance, consider the following finding made by the Mayo Clinic in 2001:
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.
As far as mental health and atheism is concerned, the following statement was made by the University of Warwick in 2003:
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.
Also, there are psychological studies that suggest a link between atheism and suicide. This isn’t too surprising in my opinion. I could see how depression could possibly set in with some people who decide to be atheists given their beliefs. Also, if the atheist comes from a religious/spiritual family, then they could possibly receive negative backlash from their family including isolation. That is just my opinion though, here’s what the American Society 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.
I am by no means suggesting this as evidence that God exists (i.e. He ‘likes’ theists more), so don’t waste time writing a response of that nature – just hoping to spur a lively conversation!