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Why religion breeds happiness: Friends
December 7th, 2010
12:01 AM ET

Why religion breeds happiness: Friends

As important as your religious beliefs may be to you, they don't necessarily make you happier, a new study in the American Sociological Review finds. What does make you more satisfied with your life, the study finds, is having friends at your congregation and a strong religious identity.

"Those are the people who give you the sense of belonging," said lead study author Chaeyoon Lim, of the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Lim conducted the study with Robert Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone" and "American Grace."

Many other studies have argued that the happiness gleaned from being religious is about spirituality and theology - for example, your belief in a higher power and your engagement in the rituals of your tradition. But in this study, factors such as prayer, holding religious services at home, and strength of faith do not appear to be related to life satisfaction.

Lim and Putnam looked at a nationally representative sample of almost 2,000 people in the United States. The majority of the participants in the study were Protestant and Catholic; Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians were a smaller portion.

They conducted interviews with the same participants twice: Once in 2006 and once in 2007. Those who gained friends in their congregations during the course of the year also reported a greater sense of life satisfaction. This was also true for those who said they were attending their place of worship more in 2007.

But people who go to a place of worship and have few close friends there are not any happier than people who never go to services, the study authors found.

Religious identity is also important, Lim said. People who say that religion is a very important part of self identity tend to be happier. And that also goes back to the friendship issue: It’s not simply the presence of friendship, but also the fact that you share this sense of religious identity with this particular social network, that makes you more satisfied with life, Lim said.

Friendship in congregation also appears to make people volunteer more, even outside of the religious setting, and donate more often to both religious and nonreligious causes, Lim and Putnam found.

Still, it is worth examining in the future why this study did not find the same link between happiness and spirituality that others did, the authors say. This may have to do with how different aspects of religion are measured. For example, those who reported that they "feel God's love" seemed to have more life satisfaction than those who did not, but this did not apply for similar questions about belief in God. Also, it is impossible to draw conclusions about whether "feeling God's love" causes happiness or vice versa.

Could other networks of people have the same effect on happiness? The authors say that if this is possible, it's hard to think of a non-religious context with a similar strength of identity, intensity of participation in ritual, and great scale and scope of the people in it.


soundoff (389 Responses)
  1. chris

    I do enjoy having lots of friends in the church, but at the same time, I don't place my all confidence in them. If you base your entire faith on it bringing you more friends and making your life here so much better, it's sure to fail. Hence why so many people wind up leaving the church because "if those are the people that represent Christ, I don't want to be a part of it!" Although there may be temporary happiness with friends in the church, there's still an eternal PEACE with knowing God. It's great to be in the church, working together as the Body, having others to lift you up, suffering alongside eachother in trouble, and praying for eachother, and to refresh one-another when the world starts getting to us, but we need to remember to keep our hearts focused on God, not on man.

    December 7, 2010 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • myopin

      Attending church regularly may bring friends but belief in God brings happiness. Religion does not and has little to do with God except for a way worshiping for the true believer.

      December 7, 2010 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
    • alan

      It seems to me that religious people would be bummed all the time for so many of their prayers going unanswered. Maybe because there is no one listening, sounds logical to me.

      December 7, 2010 at 09:56 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      God designed us for a life with relationships. Not many people would enjoy life with not friendships or relationships. Why would it be surprising that having close friends as church would make you happier? And if you have no close friends at church there is probably a reason.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:16 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      haha...with not. without.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:20 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      You are supposed to have faith in God and form a relationship with HIM.

      Funny how all you people here are bashing religion, but most of you sound so IGNORANT. When you strive in you rlife to conform to the WIll of God, you WILL be a better person, and your life will have order, and not be the chaos such as the world at large is today.

      Ok, so now you can all bash me, go ahead.....Jesus reminded his followers this- "remember when they hate you because of Me, they hated Me first"...................and no, I am not a "bible thumper"...I am just a catholic woman struggling just like everyone else. I really feel that most people knock various religions based on what they "THINK" that faith is all about, not what is REALLY is about......for instance, people that THINK catholics worship Mary and statues...that's a HUGE misconception people have, and it is not true...........

      December 7, 2010 at 12:09 | Report abuse |
    • AGeek

      Valerie: Your ignorance is showing. Everything you've stated is for a specific religion – and frankly one that I find offensive to *my* religious beliefs. The very nature of faith and belief is that there are no facts. There is no right or wrong. It's up to the individual. So, politely and respectfully, I humbly suggest you cram your self-righteous bullsh!t.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      I know that it's comforting to meet with many people, have friends, and have a false sense of certainty about what happens after death. My objection to religion is the foisting of ridiculous dogma on nonbelievers including constant attempts to insert that dogma into governmental decision making. Whatever makes you happy in life without hurting others is OK. Religious types should understand that their lifestyle may be hurtful to others, even though it satisfies their needs.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
    • ScottK

      "It's great to be in the church, working together as the Body, having others to lift you up, suffering alongside eachother in trouble, and praying for eachother, and to refresh one-another when the world starts getting to us"

      Sounds a lot like a team building seminar for the workplace or maybe a summer camp. You can get all the same sense of belonging wherever there are people who work together for a common goal, it doesnt have to be a religion. Its just that religions have the largest groups with a global ident ity making their members feel like they are part of something greater, even if it is just a giant fan club of invented dieties. Smaller groups also get together and feel that same sense of collective ident ity at Star Trek, Comic con or WoW conventions, they just worship different dieties. As technology gives us the tools to connect with people faster and easier than ever before, I believe religion will continue to lose its grip on humans since they can find a sense of belonging and a group of friends elsewhere now.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      ...that and the child molesting risk.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      "It's great to be in the church, working together as the Body, having others to lift you up, suffering alongside eachother in trouble, and praying for eachother, and to refresh one-another when the world starts getting to us, but we need to remember to keep our hearts focused on God, not on man."

      Sounds to me like religion would really suck if you worshiped alone, basically you confirmed the authors article

      December 7, 2010 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Sorry – lying to myself about a God could never make me happy, I have too many morals for that. Hard to imagine how people can sleep at night foisting that gibberish on small children.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
    • galespoint

      Maybe you go to church for community, support, council and group prayer, to help us through tough times, happy times, sad times, etc. Happiness is an emotion like love, hate, lust, happy, sad..... Church helps us deal with these issues through lessons of those teachers that came before us. It can help give perspective.
      We all feel happy around friends, because were social creatures in need of the connection with other people to share experience. happiness is an emotion.
      I hope they got an F on their report for being ignorant on the subject of religion god and happiness all of which are not directly related.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
    • David

      I'm actually pagan and find that Xtianity is one huge "Hate Cult". However . . . you sound pretty darned miserable and weak to me, bent on stirring up chaos, otherwise you would just read the story and move on without having to prove some kind of point to no one but yourself. You're really proud of that insecurity of "yours" aren't you? Usually someone who makes a point of ridiculing someone is trying to hide something themselves. "No, no, look the other way!"

      December 7, 2010 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Amen to that Chris!! (1st comment)

      December 7, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
    • Caro

      @AGeek -"There is no right or wrong. It's up to the individual" -That's a dangerous argument philosophically for someone who is religious. If you're not religious, then I can see why you accept it. (google religious pluralism). I agree with many others- religious people find good friends at church and that makes them happy, but that is not WHY they go- just a plus. There is also happiness in feeling God's grace- that comes from elsewhere.

      December 8, 2010 at 16:39 | Report abuse |
  2. Boka

    It's less about religion and more about having something in common. A designated weekly place we everyone meets. Sports, hobbies and causes do the same thing.

    December 7, 2010 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teeph

      Interesting theory, but that's not what the "study" was about and your very assertion is sort of questioned by the last paragraph of the article. But hey, anything to knock any potential benefits of religion down a peg, eh? Am I right or am I right?

      December 7, 2010 at 09:22 | Report abuse |
    • myopin

      Boka- sort of, but not really. It is actually the true belief in God that brings people together. I'm Baptist but have good friends who are Methodist, Catholic etc. We dont attend church together but are connected by our belief in God. We are soul connected, it is a different sort of thing than say growing up with a person. The secular world always sees God as a form of religion and He definitely is not. Religion is just a particular way one choses to worship.

      December 7, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      Myopinion. Many believers in many different gods get comfort from grouping together. Take the Haaj, for example, or Hindu bathing festivals in the Ganges. I cannot help but see this as a form of collective insecurity, where people feel the need to get support for their quivering beliefs from those of like mind.

      Don't get me wrong, I agree that collective belief in any god brings security adn comfort to its members, but I guess I believe that is more an indicateion of co-dependency and weakness, rather than something to be proud of.

      December 7, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Colin: "I believe that is more an indicateion of co-dependency and weakness, rather than something to be proud of."

      What about family? what about working together to help disaster victim? so all the supplies and manpower that brought people to work and cooperate together is a sign of weakness? Look what it accomplished. How would any individual do this without group bonding?

      December 7, 2010 at 13:56 | Report abuse |
    • Sybaris

      Exactly.
      The study is limited in scope and If you only interview religious people you're going to get a religious bias.

      Myopin, the invisible sky man doesn't create the bond among disparate religions, it is the common association with ANYTHING above your level. For instance there is a strong bond between service members of the same service but there is also a strong bond among military members regardless of service.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • Colin is an imbocile

      Colin, you could not be more wrong. Its funny to me how atheists are ALWAYS bitter, lonely and angry. They go out of there way to always bash people who use their reasoning ability to determine the fact that yes, there is a Creator. You can choose to believe in Him or not, he gave you free will. But to say that it is a sign of weakness is completely incorrect. This is the atheists Achilles heel: That many religious people are NOT unintelligent and weak. Their claim is that people who cannot handle life have to make up this 'God' to help them. Many people have gone through some horrendous torture and died for their beliefs. Would you do this? In actuality, you are the weak one. You are weak because you have bought into the lie that caters to your selfish desire to not want to answer to a god. You want to live your immoral and self-absorbed pathetic little life but guess what? You will die a bitter old man and you will crawl on your hands and knees to God when you are knocking on death's door. As they say, there are no atheists in a foxhole. And since he does not stoop down to your level and make you 'pay' for blaspheming, he still keeps his arms open for any who choose to learn about Him.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
    • SoS

      Sybaris,

      As a veteran I can attest that you are excatly right regarding the bond people from the same branch of service feel towards one another, and even towards service men and women from other branches.

      Biased surveys give biased results, but this survey does have some merits. People who group together based on commonality or higher purpose will always have stronger bonds and be happier people than those who do not.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
  3. Colin

    As George Bernard shaw once said, even if you accept the proposition that a religious person is happier than an atheist, it is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober man.

    December 7, 2010 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheRealBillC

      Bravo!

      December 7, 2010 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Why blame an instrument? If that is the case, set free all murderers and imprison their knives, guns, and weapons. Where a group forms, rules and protocols are formed as well. This goes without saying for all societies and groups, including blogs.

      A drunkard will seek solice from pain and loneliness. People who are religious seek solice in friendship and God.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • branch15

      i was a drunken man, now sober. Never is a drunken man happier than a sober one. Thanks, now i understand the value in religion. It makes sense now.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Me too! 14 years sober. The drunken man is often temporarily happier than the sober man....that's why they drink. The point is to deal with life head on, without the need from some external comfort from something that is ultimately addicting, mind controlling and false. Hey....drunkenness and religion have a lot in common!

      December 7, 2010 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      You all completely missed the point of the quotation.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      ...except Tom, Tom got it, haha

      December 7, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      If all you have is religion -bashing statements, what good are you? Are you offering any way of life that will improve things? Are you working to make this world a better place?

      December 7, 2010 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
    • Colin is deluded

      All atheists are miserable. Your comment speaks volumes.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
    • branch15

      hey tom – that's not what Bill says. Oh, you know more than him?

      December 7, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      @ Jan,

      I can be a good person and improve the world without believing in god. I do good b/c I believe the world is a better place, not b/c I'll be rewarded when I die. People can contribute to society b/c they feel things are better off for all not b/c they believe god wants them to. I don't need a higher being to tell me how to live. I can reason that society only really works when people work together to some extent.

      December 7, 2010 at 17:41 | Report abuse |
    • becks

      One of my favorite atheist quotes! And to Jan, atheists are doing good by trying to rid of religion, a concept that has split up groups of people for thousands of years. Religion may bring friends and a false sense of comfort and security, but if you take a step back, religion has done much more harm than it has good. Stop being a fool and realize that there is no god out there. Do good deeds because you want to, not because it's the "christian" thing to do.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:17 | Report abuse |
  4. Berachah

    Actually that wasn't my experience. I found the religion brought a ton of pain...especially relationally. Christians seem to be the most disfunctional destruction group I have encountered. Remember "Jones Town"! Now there was a happy group!

    December 7, 2010 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chris

      see my post above....

      December 7, 2010 at 09:40 | Report abuse |
  5. Jeepers

    I just can't be friends with people who are crazier than me.

    December 7, 2010 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David in Corpus

      I take it you don't hear voices either, lol.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Religion breeds ostracism, criticism, and discrimination.......not friends.

    December 7, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michelle

      Depends on the religion. Ever been to a UU church?

      December 7, 2010 at 10:01 | Report abuse |
    • nygirl

      That's true. I've accompanied a friend to a Disciples (episcopalian offshoot) service, and they were some of the most welcoming, ACCEPTING people I have ever met.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:37 | Report abuse |
    • displeased

      nygirl, they want your money!

      December 7, 2010 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Rick, it's obvious you're some bitter ranting non-religious person. From everything I have seen and experienced, you are quite wrong. Judging from these boards, by your logic I could say that atheism breeds cynicism, bitterness and contempt.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
    • RonV

      True oh so true !!!

      December 7, 2010 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Perhaps in the sense that once a theist discovers you are atheist, you are often subjected to harassment that directly leads to cynicism, but perhaps in yet another sense, most atheists were once religious and stopped pretending at some point after noticing that religion doesn't make a lick of sense.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
    • False Religion

      Any church that does not use God's name, goes to war, asks for money, and tells you that all good people go to heaven is a lie. None of those things are in the Bible.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    The Universe is intelligent.. i do not believe that 2 rocks banged together and awoke!! G-d is not a personality , but ALL that is .. When does it make sense that intelligence was born out of mindless matter.. There are infinite galaxies in the universe and many Mansions beyond humankind's puny 5 senses! Both Science and Religion need to evolve and understand the human ego can only see so much!

    December 7, 2010 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doug

      Who is suggesting that '2 rocks banged and awoke?"

      December 7, 2010 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      If the universe is too complex to have just 'formed', then who created god? Wouldn't he/she also be too complex to have just formed? Such a simple, simple analogy...why do so many people not get it? If the universe had to have a creator, and you say it's god, then it is extremely reasonable to assume that someone/something created god. Who/what was it?

      December 7, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Most people who can comprehend science know that intelligence was not just ' born out of mindless matter', it took a lot of steps in between.

      But you do need to actually study and understand some of that science to get to that point. That takes a little sweat of the brow.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Science and God do not contradict. There are many many scientists who believe in God. It is only logical to do so. God not having a beginning is something we cannot wrap our head around. Does that mean it is NOT possible? Of course not. Believe it or not, humans are not the be-all and end-all of all knowledge. There are many MANY things we do not know about our own planet let alone all the forces of the Universe. I am humble enough to recognize that. Are you?

      December 7, 2010 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      You have an agreed upon working definition of 'God'? There is no such thing. Many scientists define god as not much more than a physics equation.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:25 | Report abuse |
  8. Michelle

    I attend my Unitarian Universalist church weekly because I love getting together with my friends. It's a fun bonus that we study world culture, legends, myths, and other religions. But yeah, it's totally the social aspect. Finally, a study on religion that actually calls it like it is.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      Yup, UU takes the best of religion and leaves out the nasty exclusionary abusive bits.

      See, people can handle religion maturely.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • Rochelle

      What does your church teach about about why there is so much wickedness on the Earth ? Will mankind ever achieve peace and is that even in our power to do so? Does it encourage you to share these truths with others? What happens to us when we die? Or, do you just engage in useless debate and then go home and behave like everyone else not improving the world in any way, shape or manner?

      December 7, 2010 at 15:24 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      UU doesn't tell you how things are, it shares peoples opinions and feelings and is a place of coming together. It's not a pushy place full of false authority and meaningless rituals.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:27 | Report abuse |
  9. Colin

    In parallel with this article, is another on CNN about the horrific life gays get growing up in rural america, due to christian religious prejudices. I guess we need to balance the joy religion brings its adherents with the pain and hurt it dishes out to those it deems unworth outsiders.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nygirl

      So much word. Sometimes I think it's easy to be happy when you're a zombie who allows groupthink to form all of your opinions and feelings.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
  10. Trevor

    No one can measure happiness by interviewing people. Humans are complicated animals, with a diverse set of emotions. Religion might help some people be happy, but happiness is defined on an individual basis. No one or no thing can make anyone happy.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. nygirl

    I don't believe in organized religion, and I am happy, fulfilled, have tons of friends, and a boyfriend. Next!

    December 7, 2010 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Greg

      nygirl. You said above you attend a service with a friend and really enjoyed it. I know there are churches and people that lead to the idea of "organized religion" and all the bad feelings that come with those words. But as I have been attending one of the churches where people are honest, open, loving, accepting, friendly, and well mostly just normal, I am starting to feel that organized religion can be much different than how it was viewed in the past. I thiink a lot of contemporary churches realized how running a church as it was done in the 70s, 80s and 90s was just a turn off to young people, much like myself.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Yet you felt the need to convince total strangers you were fulfilled. Next!

      December 7, 2010 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      Valerie -

      Just like you have. Next!

      See how easy it is to play that stupid game?

      December 7, 2010 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Um, Jeremy, no she didn't try to convince you of anything.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
    • SoS

      Kate,

      Yes she did, in her first post.

      December 7, 2010 at 16:04 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      I think we are mixed up about just who was referred to by 'you' and who I was talking about.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:29 | Report abuse |
  12. pfr1nk

    Ignorance is bliss.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Noocrat

      Beat me to it.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • Zoul

      Tell that to third world countries. Ignorance has nothing to do with it. Maybe if atheist could actually explain anything, rather than just say "God does not exist, here is no proof that we could exist by random chance." Then there would be less people in religion. There are few intelligent atheist argument but rarely do I see them. To me many atheist seem to just be atheist because thinking of anything outside their little world disturbs them. Its ironic because early christian thinking was that everything revolved around the earth.

      Next time you might try a valid argument. Not something like "lulz you stupid you believe in god."

      December 7, 2010 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Here it is – there has never been any evidence that a god has ever existed. That means pretending there is one, is wrong.

      That's all it takes. Nobody has to prove your god doesn't exist to blow your theory out of the water. You have never proved any other god doesn't exist so if you feel that's required, you have a lot of work to do before you start asking that of anyone else.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • Atheists are a sad lot

      Kate and the others are bitter and lonely. You are right in your comment. It does shake their world up that there are people out there that believe in God and are intelligent, hard-working and loving. Yes we do exist. I love science. I love learning about our fascinating Earth. I pity atheists because they are so empty and extremely deluded. I used to be atheist actually until I learned the truth. That's all it takes. As one scientist put it: Evolution is one of the greatest myths of our time. More and more people are discovering this to be the case.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      You can pretend evolution is a myth all you want, it doesn't change reality. Gotta wonder about the disfunctionality of people like you who constantly scream lies at the top of their voices like it changes anything.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:31 | Report abuse |
  13. vel

    another duh! moment for research. having friends makes you happy, whodathunk? Yes, having a community of people who share your values is a nice thing. And religion isn't the only thing that creates such things. Atheists have communities too, though we do argue since that's about all some of us have in common. whywontgodhealamputees.com has a great forum. The problem wtih religion is that many beleivers decide that they and only they know what God "really" meant and this creates some of the worst divisions between people. I got to see it first hand when my church disintegrated over someone claiming to know God better than someone else. You might get friends but you'll often get enemies even faster.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Phan

    smoking crack also breeds happiness and friends, as well.... religion caa breed enemies, fear, hate, and very irrational people. religion breeds crime. religion breeds insanity. religion breeds alot of things..

    faith is superior to religion.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      Well I agree with your last sentence, but religion doesn't "breed" any of those other things any more than being human "breeds" fallibility. I could say that being white 'breeds" racism. Being rich "breeds' arrogance. You get my point...

      December 7, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Religion is not much more than the predictable expression of tribalism, so it goes along with the worst traits of that.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
    • Barb1037

      Dave, Not to go off subject, but why is it that whites are always the racists?? Hmm. Back to the subject:

      Not all athiests are vocal and verbal about their views. There are many athiests that are very accepting of others religious beliefs and feel that they are just as valid as their own lack of need for a God. There are those who don't need God and the rules of religion to be a good person.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • phan

      "that being white 'breeds" racism?"
      are you serious with that statement.. why are whites the only racists in the world? why aren't african americans?
      99.9% of the black population voted for Obama because he was black.. you're not familiar with BET(BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION)? could you imagine if a white person started WET? it would never happen.. i can go on and on with these examples.. the world is what you make of it.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
    • Kate is a moron

      Tribalism? Funny ho Dave's comment hit it right on the head. Kate's racist comment about tribalism speaks volumes of the bigoted self-absorbed superiority complex that MANY white Americans have had for decades. 'Those voodoo brown people are uneducated and believe in a God because they are stupid'. Kate is an ignorant tool and any who think like her are the same way. Besides it being wholly inaccurate, she is trying to mask her racism. Shame on you Kate.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:31 | Report abuse |
    • Flan

      Phan? You are stupid. The whole BET tirade is tired and old. First off, most black people HATE BET!!!!!!!!!! I have heard that from numerous people. The whole reason why those things exist, is because white people exluded others from all the other channels and shows for decades. Magazines, books, etc. Are you really this stupid? This is called history and you might want to look into it. P.S: Seeing as how your name is PHAN, they excluded your asian self too.

      P.S: I am WHITE.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Barb? You don't need God to be a good person? If that is not the laugh of the century. Let's see: You need GOD to breathe, think, talk, walk, smile, invent, create, hug, etc etc. He created in you a conscience. That conscience can be trained to either accuse you or excuse your behavior. The ONLY reason why you are able to love is because God put that ability into us. You can chooose to do it or not. That is also another gift: Free Will. Just like you are choosing to make a stupid and unfounded comment. See? Simple.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
    • Barb1037

      Rich...Whatever works for you! That is not what I believe.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • phan

      P.S: Seeing as how your name is PHAN, they excluded your asian self too.

      This is what im talking about.. i'm white. my name is phan because im from philadelphia and a big sports fan, hence phan. these are the idiots im talking about. they have no idea of whats going on in the world. they only guess.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
  15. T3chsupport

    I do wish there was some sort of church options for the agnostics. I'd go to a regular churches myself, but I wouldn't want my kid influenced until he was really ready to study and make those choices seriously.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Colin

      Might I suggest sitting back and waiting until he has a grounding in science (10 to 12 grade) and then let someone try and convince him that the world began 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake.

      PS: you look so much better with a red cross on your face.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Colin:
      I got my degree in Environmental Science, wasn't a believer in God, went through some trials, became broken, found the need for God, asked Jesus into my life, and I study the bible now...
      After being an advocate of the evolution argument for years, I don't believe it anymore...not just because the bible says not to, but I believe the evidence is on the creationist side. Search for the article "Schweitzer's Dangerous Discovery" by Discover magazine...It's not a Christian article, if anything it's Christian bashing, but I feel it's one more piece of evidence on the side of creationists...
      And not only that, but search for ancient artwork of dinosaurs and you'll find identifiable species (stegosaurus and such) etched into ancient pottery (dinosaurs weren't 'dug up' until the mid 1800's).
      And not only THAT, but name one instance where a random genetic mutation ever produced a desireable trait? Mutations lead to UNDESIREABLE things like cancer, sickle cell anemia, things that get in the way of survival... Look at a bacterial flagellum, and the complex motor that works the flagellum...It's an on-board motor! Each part designed for a specific task, and each part not able to do anything apart from the other working parts (irreduceably complex). Take an honest look at that and think about if one by one, each part could have been the result of compounding mutations leading to finally millions of years later a flagellum that works... Not possible without a designer.
      And ANOTHER thing....DNA.... how does randomness and chance EVER result in INFORMATION?

      December 7, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      @Chris,

      Nice. Ever read A Case for a Creator? Lot of those arguements in there from a previously very outspoken atheist turned Christian. Lots of great stuff in there.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Greg,
      No but thanks for the suggestion. I'll look into it. God bless!

      December 7, 2010 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
    • Big Ed

      I think the Jews have a lock on this approach...

      December 7, 2010 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      chris -

      You experienced a traumatic event and, like many people, it broke you down until you were willing to accept a fantasy to make you feel better.

      You simply do not understand mutation, or evolution in general. Sorry. Also, please refer to the verse in the Bible that says "do not believe in evolution."

      December 7, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      well, the evolutionary argument didn't exist back then, but worldly knowlege did. The bible talks about worldly knowlege, people that do whats right in their own eyes, here's one verse about worldiness:

      1 Timothy 6:20: Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge

      And also that whole Genesis 1:1 thing about God creating the heavens and the earth.... I've accepted that as truth, and I'm not going to question it.

      And my trials have in no way made me a weaker person – they exposed the weaknesses that exist in me and in each and every one of us. I wouldn't be so quick to think that it's a "fairy tale," just like I wasn't so quick to think that evolution is the be all and end all of the story of life.
      So yes, I do know how evolution works.. I had it pounded in my head for years, and I believed it, but the question is have YOU really looked into the creation argument?

      December 7, 2010 at 14:11 | Report abuse |
    • Glorifundel

      Re: Chris

      "Look at a bacterial flagellum, and the complex motor that works the flagellum...It's an on-board motor! Each part designed for a specific task, and each part not able to do anything apart from the other working parts (irreduceably complex)."

      Irreducible Complexities main argument (bacterial flagellum) has been debunked. The theory was that the bacteria had such a complex system that it could not have possibly evolved, but it was found that it evolved from a simple tube like structure. A simple search of "bacterial flagellum evolution" will outline why better than I can.

      The specific example aside, you cannot disprove an entire theory (theory in science has special meaning, it is the culmination of years of study giving reproducible results based on scientific facts, it is not the common vernacular which uses it as more of a "guess") by giving a single example that "might" not be able to be explained. If there was a breadth of evidence that was contradictory to the current theory then the theory would have to be modified to fit the new evidence, this does not mean that the theory as a whole is wrong. Lets say we found a corner of the planet that gravity moves a person away from the earth. That would be a very interesting exception, but doesn't nullify the theory of gravity (because it is true in all cases but this one)

      Furthermore, if some person drew a dinosaur before modern people found them, is it not in the realm of possibility that someone else might have seen dinosaur bones?

      Finally if you are a "scientist" as you claim, then you would subscribe to the holy grail of science: Proof

      Other than your individual feelings, what evidence do you have that creationism is true? I'm not talking about evidence against evolution, I am talking about evidence For creationism. Finally how can its application help us learn about our environment? Evolution for instance has helped us understand our own bodies, create drugs and vaccines, treat illness etc. What has creasionism done to improve our scientific learning of the world?

      If you can't answer any of these questions then creationism is currently not science at all, or at least, does not have enough evidence to support it being called science at this time. I leave you with the one thing anyone who is actually interested in science will ever be swayed by: "Show Me Proof."

      December 7, 2010 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Look into Unitarian Universalists. They accept agnostics and don't push dogma on anyone, let alone children.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Chris, either you are a complete liar or you really didn't deserve to pass a single science course. Personally, I suspect the former, your story doesn't hold a bit of water.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      Kate, he is telling the truth. There are MANY scientists who believe in God. I know it blows your little world apart but that is all part of life. Learning. My professor was an atheist himself and after examining the numerous holes in the theory of evolution and how evolutionary scientists do not even agree, he realized the truth: that there is a God. Funny to me how Kate and others think they are so open-minded and revolutionary when in actuality when you present the TRUTH to them or show them that NO, many scientists DO believe in God, they cannot accept it. Sorry but its time for you to open your mind ok??

      December 7, 2010 at 15:50 | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      Kate, he is telling the truth. There are MANY scientists who believe in God. I know it blows your little world apart but that is all part of life. Learning. My professor was an atheist himself and after examining the numerous holes in the theory of evolution and how evolutionary scientists do not even agree, he realized the truth: that there is a God. Funny to me how Kate and others think they are so open-minded and revolutionary when in actuality when you present the TRUTH to them or show them that NO, many scientists DO believe in God, they cannot accept it. Sorry but its time for you to open your mind ok?

      December 7, 2010 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Uh, I've never heard of a hole in the TOE that passed the least muster. The evidence is overwhelming. It's not a debated topic in science, only in the annuls of frauds and liars.

      If you are telling the truth about your professor, and I have no doubt you are not, then he deserves to be canned. Yes there are scientists who believe in god, but very few that believe in the same god you do and those that do tend to only believe in a limited way. The rest are simply not good scientists and yes, I have no doubt those exist.

      December 7, 2010 at 17:51 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Wow. How's it look up there on that pedestal Kate?

      December 7, 2010 at 18:13 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Kate: I am neither lying nor am I a failure, but thanks for the encouragement.
      Glorifundel: I appreciate that you didn't flat out call me an idiot and spoke to me like a human being.

      So I'm trying to look around online to find an example of a bacterial flagellum thats not irreduceably complex, and I can't come across one.. I found a page that says the creationist vs the scientists (which I think is a funny way of putting it...) view on that, and that the example which Behe uses to show the example of irreducible complexity is the most complex of bacterial flagellum, and that there are other flagellum out there that could have easily evolved, but they never give an example of a species... Even if there were a simpler flagellum tail, even if it were reduced down to three working parts, they would have still have needed to evolve at the same time or else they'd be getting in the way. If the tail evolved first, it would provide no advantage...If it were a cilia that evolved and later turned into the whole flagellum somehow, that cilia would provide no evolutionary advantage to the cell, and by the evolutionists argument, only desireable traits are passed because they provide an advantage for breeding.

      Dinosaur bones: For that argument to hold true, people would have to have been assembling skeletons and studying the anatomy of these animals, because the posture on some of these drawings is very anatomically correct. Artwork like this is seen in multiple cultures, not just an isolated area. Also, google search the book of Job, Chapter 40 vs 15-24... "Behemoth" is a hebrew transliteration, because no other name for this animal existed at that time. This book was written around 1473 BC I believe.

      And as far as evidence for God.....In my life? His ability to overcome my anxiety, panic attacks, alcoholism... The divine way that he brought my wife to me, and the way He's miraculously provided for my needs as they arise. He's been a refuge, a source of strength, and is teaching me faith, patience, and a love for people that I've never had before. He's had the absolute biggest impact in my life – far bigger than evolution ever had, in directing my steps, my desires, and has done miracles in healing my broken heart and broken mind. My panic attacks had me convinced every single day that I was having a heart attack.... I drank to make it go away, it made it worse... He reached out to me through several people until I finally gave in and gave my life to the Lord. He's still healing me, and the healing that's occured in my life is the only evidence that I have...And its hard to portray that to people over the internet because it's really been such an internal thing; it's always been an internal thing. But outwardly, all creation proclaims the glory of the Lord!

      December 7, 2010 at 18:43 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      I think better said is that the evidence for creation is in the scriptures. God created the heavens and the earth. I've learned to take God at His word for everything. I know that doesn't make sense to you... Also, all I see is Gods fingerprint everywhere... I think the complexity of life and the zero probability of spontaneous creation without a creator speaks volumes for the creationist argument.
      And not only is the evolution of all these different features in plants and animals impossible, but creating life from nothing is an even greater impossibility. Before you even have life, you need DNA, before you have DNA you need Amino Acids... Nomatter how evolutionists try to explain it, the chances of amino acids spontaneously forming and joining together to form a mega complex strand of DNA is just impossible. Something doesn't just come from nothing in the physical world. It takes way more faith to believe this evolution stuff than it does to believe in an all mighty God.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      And as far as "proof" goes, I'd ask the same thing of the evolutionary scientists.. There's a lot of data, but not a lot of "proof."
      But as any scientist knows from their first science class, you can only prove something to be "not true," it's impossible to prove something to be "true." Science has not disproven God, nor can they prove anything.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:58 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Hmm Chris. Time to take your evidence to the newspapers. I think they missed that important find of yours.

      But evidence abounds – you might want to repeat that 10th grade science classes if you can't see it.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:42 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Kate: If you're referring to the "important find" of the fresh dinosaur bones, it was in discover magazine..not a christian source.... Things that contradict evolution hardly ever make it to the mass media, you have to search for it. And it's not a discovery of "mine," I didn't find the bones or publish the article.
      And it's funny, I've spent a lot of time thinking about this post since last night... Everyone tries to say "oh you need to repeat 10th grade science" and "oh you don't understand science," there is SOO much science that exists apart from evolution. The evolution aspect is the only part of science that Christians don't agree with..... Someone posted "evolution has told us how to make medicines which keep us alive," no it doesn't! Studying the anatomy and chemical makeup of our bodies, and the chemical nature of the earth and its resources is what's given us medicine... Through experimentation, through finding real results, but evolution on the other hand... "Scientists" collect their data, they see similarities in structures, and they immediatly assume that one structure had turned into another... Like the eyeball... I know that there are single celled plants out there (Volvox) with basic "eyes" that can seek out light....But that is their function, it's not the first eyeball, it's a light sensor for that cell... The eyeball in animals would have had to undergo ENORMOUS changes in structure and function if it were to have originated from a single celled plant. The basic argument of creationists is that these structures exist as is, and are not related to eachother.

      December 8, 2010 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      And another thing Kate,
      A 10th grader is going to accept everything that's thrown their way.... The difference between a middle school scientist and a college level scientists is that the college level is trained to think critically and not accept everything that comes their way... Real science appreciates criticism, because it doesn't allow a scientist to become complacent in what they believe their results are... With scientific discovery always comes rebuke, which is all part of the process of coming closer to the truth of the world. People are being force fed evolution, and being threatened when they question it without much opportunity to think critically about it. The battle between creation vs evolution is science at work! I know that creation science does not prove that Jesus is Messiah; that needs to be decided by the person on their own, but creation science does attempt to show that there is an intelligent design behind the earth, and it was purposeful and not random.

      December 8, 2010 at 09:20 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Ah, so you think there's a big conspiracy to keep proof that evolution is wrong out of the media. Yeah, sure that's how science works – a big block buster of a real discovery is always covered up by those evil scientists that never do that for any other part of science for no reason.

      December 8, 2010 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
    • Q

      Chris- You're displaying a very limited understanding of evolution. Mutations are often neutral and have been directly observed to produce novel functionality (e.g. Lenski's E. coli). Every human bears mutations not found in their parents and these clearly are not all deleterous. Irreducible complexity argues a jet plane could not have come about spontaneously and that if parts are taken away, it doesn't work. Well, of course. But the argument always fails to recognize the precursors that clearly existed and have adapted over time, from Da Vinci's helicopter to the Wright Brothers and so forth. The same is true of bacterial flagella (e.g. Matzke's papers) and the other ID examples. Regarding dinosaurs, the fossil record clearly indicates an ordered progression of the major classes of life (e.g. fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, then birds). This order could not exist if any ex nihilo creationist model were remotely correct, particularly the literalist varieties requiring coexistance. Add to this that dinosaur fossils are far, far below strata containing humans and innumerable other extant species. The artwork you reference is little more than others referencing "dragons" in the attempt to lend credibility. In either case, their presence along side humans just isn't supported by any legitimate evidence. Your understanding of abiogenesis is also very limited. There are relatively few constraints on what was necessary for the initial replicators and plausible pathways have been demonstrated, where the RNA-world hypothesis appears best supported in its ability to both catalyze and store "information". This little list only scratches the surface of the consistent and concordant physical evidence emanating from every relevant discipline (e.g. chemistry, physics, molecular biology, geology, etc, etc) which all indicate an ancient earth and biological evolution. There simply is no "positive evidence" for creationism and the creationist arguments are invariably arguments of incredulity.

      December 8, 2010 at 19:34 | Report abuse |
  16. vel

    also, this part makes me wonder "Still, it is worth examining in the future why this study did not find the same link between happiness and spirituality that others did, the authors say. This may have to do with how different aspects of religion are measured. For example, those who reported that they "feel God's love" seemed to have more life satisfaction than those who did not, but this did not apply for similar questions about belief in God. Also, it is impossible to draw conclusions about whether "feeling God's love" causes happiness or vice versa." I wonder who "feels" God's love if they don't already have a pretty good life anyway? Do cholera victims in Haiti "feel god's love"?

    December 7, 2010 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chris

      You can definitely feel His love during trials... I think trials are when Gods presence feels the strongest. It's pretty hard to honestly worship God when all is well, because you feel pretty self sufficient.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  17. Damien

    And here I thought it was ignorance and not simply friends...my mistake.

    Although I have to confess that some churches do in fact create an atmosphere that is casual enough where people are comfortable socializing and mingling without having any sort of religious weight hanging over them. I've only seen this at a Methodist Church; being born Catholic, I've seen plenty of churches that do it wrong.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Well...

    My husband and I tried to go to Sunday school years ago and the young guy teaching the class was talking about how to handle when someone tells a dirty joke. He said you should just walk away. I was thinking...I'd try to think of an even dirtier one. That's when I realized that I just didn't fit in with that crowd.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Right there with you

      @Well – I can so identify with your post!

      December 7, 2010 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      We think that too, don't worry, you're not different. Nothing that God asks us to do comes naturally to us.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Ok, dirty jokes can be funny. But they are also crass and immature, and presents an image of one's self. You don't have to be religious to believe in a little class.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      To tell a dirty joke, you just have to not be afraid of s e x. There's nothing less than classy about it, unless it's forced on someone who is.

      December 7, 2010 at 17:47 | Report abuse |
  19. LP

    @T3chsupport: check the website of the American Humanist Association to see if there is a chapter in your area. My husband and I belong to our local chapter, which meets weekly to host guest speakers on various topics. We have potlucks, picnics, camping trips, film festivals, book clubs, talent shows . . . all manner of activities. We even have a children's program.

    This article mirrors one that TIME magazine did a few years ago. Except that in the TIME article, buried waaaaaaay at the end, was the admission that happiness was really the result of belonging to a supportive community. And that atheists and agnostics who belonged to such a community were just as happy as the churchgoers. Hmmmmmmm . . .

    December 7, 2010 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. displeased

    I enjoy spending my Sundays hiking or paddling with friends or working in the garden. Church types are a little too clean and dainty for me.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valerie

      My husband and I enjoy those things on Sundays after we attend Mass together. I don't understand what your point is? What was your point? High Mass lasts 1 hour and 20 minutes, of course, you probably wouldn't know that.....funny comment you made though, really insightful!

      December 7, 2010 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
    • displeased

      I used to go to church when I was young. We wouldn't get home until sometime between 11am and noon. To me, the best half of the day was already over. And what I mean by clean and dainty is, most of the church types I know don't like to get their fingernails dirty. You must be one of the few exceptions.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:19 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      We're not dainty.....I go to a non-denominational bible church... Most people are in t-shirts and jeans, with plenty of people with full sleeve tattoos, wearing hats, sandles, whatever.... Come as you are, God doesn't care what you're wearing when you come to hear His word...anyone who says otherwise has a lot to learn.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:22 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      And another thing about being dainty..... I live in Colorado, I do pretty much every outdoor sport that's out here, and I work an outdoor job.. My fingernails haven't been clean in years. 🙂

      December 7, 2010 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Church wastes 25% of the weekend. I wouldn't go, even if I wasn't an atheist. My free time is to valuable.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
  21. Fr. Murphy

    Without seeing the study, I would wonder in what way did the study measure and define "happiness"?. Was it for instance from a Christian Gospel perspective; happy are the poor, the sorrowing, the lowly, the hungry, those who show mercy, the single-hearted, peacemakers, those persecuted, insulted, and slandered? What criteria for happiness?

    Amazing to me how so many "researchers" doing studies on religion and spirituality are perplexed by inconclusive results when the very concepts they plan to examine are so very difficult to define much less measure.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JSito

      I was wondering the same, what is their definition of happiness in this study? Is it happy as in "happy my team won", or "happy to see you"? It's interesting because in general Religion, as I see it, as a whole -regardless of whether is Christian, Muslim or Buddhist or others- has taught humanity to have a different take on life, an approach to life and it's challenges... I mean when all these religions started they were persecuted, killed... quite unhappy, lots of suffering.
      I guess the article focuses only on the congregational aspect of Christian groups and that they are happy to see each other, like in a club.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
  22. Michael

    Whether you have a sky buddy or not-It's all about love!

    December 7, 2010 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Melissa

    What a load of utter idiotic crap this article is.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Goodstuff

    Religion also breeds child molesting Priests.

    Good game.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      So does atheism, by your logic. Atheists have been child molesters, murderers, etc, etc. Reason much?

      December 7, 2010 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • Fr. Murphy

      And, by the same logic, apparently marriage breeds child-molesting parents.

      December 7, 2010 at 16:30 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Are you denying there is a disproportionate number of pedophiles in the American clergy?

      December 7, 2010 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Theists use religion to foster a false claim of authority and security which helps them victimize people.

      Now please explain how you would use lack of belief to promote any agenda?

      December 7, 2010 at 17:45 | Report abuse |
  25. Frank Eeckman

    This is nothing more than a pseudo-scientific way to promote and justify religion.
    Never forget that religions cause more wars, unhappiness and other mayhem than anything else.
    One does not need religion to have friends or be happy. Some of the happiest people I know are atheists.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Big Ed

      I thought it was people who caused war...?

      December 7, 2010 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • Jimi

      For the moment they do, but when it's all over they will have to suffer for all eternity for their choice. Temporary happiness in this world or eternal joy in the next one? You decide. I hope you choose wisely, because there is no turning back once you take your last breath. Satan is a liar. Don't believe the hype from Hell.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
    • Fr. Murphy

      "This is nothing more than a pseudo-scientific way to promote and justify religion."

      Psuedo-science wouldn't be the term I'd use, but then on what scientific basis does athiesm make sense?

      Never forget that religions cause more wars, unhappiness and other mayhem than anything else.

      Show me the "science" you have available to support this statement.

      One does not need religion to have friends or be happy. Some of the happiest people I know are atheists.

      I agree, from "your experience" you can make this conclusion.

      December 7, 2010 at 16:27 | Report abuse |
  26. lacoaster

    Blah, if some people can not be good without religion, religion can become just a cover up for what they really are. Without religion, bad people do bad things and have to deal with theirselves and laws. With most religions, you can get instant forgiveness to do wrong again and some others religions can just give the bad, a justification to do wrong. I am glad laws exist. A lot of religions have become the most fake people's exclusive clubs. I highly doubt that religion can permanently transform your real character. Temporarily, maybe. But the truth will eventually come out. Social responsibility should be common sense with or without religion. Because of religion, some people feel more "special" than others or "chosen". Maybe not all religions, but most of them. Religions unite a few small groups, but divide millions. A perfect screen for the bad to hide.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • displeased

      I especially agree with your statement that religion gives some people justification to do wrong. I've seen that happen myself, and I find it quite pathetic.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:32 | Report abuse |
    • Trey Brennan

      Without an objective, transcendent Law-Giver (ie. God) there is no such thing as the objective "bad" or "wrong" that you are referring to; everything is relegated to the realm of opinion...which is why postmodernist relativism is becoming (and probably already is) predominant as we move toward even more pronounced secularism.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • Trey

      Without an objective, transcendent Law-Giver (ie. God) there is no such thing as the objective "bad" or "wrong" that you are referring to; everything is relegated to the realm of opinion...which is why postmodernist relativism ibecomes predominant as we move toward even more pronounced secularism.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
    • Trey

      Sorry about the double-post!

      December 7, 2010 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Big Ed

      Faith and religion are two different things, at least from the perspective being painted in this blog. You can have "faith" while not being any part of "religion"...Methodist religion, Catholic religion...etc. Get the point?

      December 7, 2010 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
    • QS

      @Trey

      You make the mistake of believing what most religious people do, that the "laws of morality" of which you speak were actually handed down to humans by "god", when in reality that "objective law-giver" you claim is responsible for us knowing what's right and wrong was nothing more than some men who claimed to "know" something others didn't...i.e. "god".

      In my opinion, lacoaster is correct – religion, while seemingly innocuous on the surface, hides some fairly sinister and undesirable characteristics that unfortunately the brainwashed either don't see or choose to ignore. One of the more prominent of those characteristics is, as lacoaster indicated, to instill in people the false belief that people simply cannot be good without god....patently absurd and false.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
  27. phan

    ive be thinking about going to church more often.. its just too funny to miss every sunday..

    December 7, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. MB

    What most people are ignoring here (either from ignorance or on purpose) is a classic fallacy when looking at studies. This study was ONLY looking at the difference between churchgoers *with* friends at service as opposed to churchgoers *without* friends at service. The conclusion it makes is that those with friends within a social group of theirs are happier than those who participate in a social group but don't feel as part of the group (those without friends in the group).

    This study *does not* look at a relationship between being religious and being happy.

    Those of you who are atheist and claim science trumps all really should know how to actually understand the conclusions from a scientific study.

    What this study means for non-believers: People with good personal relationships in their social groups tend to be happier than those without. Religion is just one type of social group; family, business, common interest groups function similar sociologically.

    What this study means for believers: If you want people in your congregation to be happy, creating an atmosphere of friendship and welcoming is a way to foster that happiness. Also, the study stated that those who had more friendships were more likely to give of their money and time to charitable causes (as well as the church itself); creating a welcoming and loving atmosphere should increase the amount of charity work. Creating an atmosphere of hate and distrust will *not* foster friendships and will probably result in lower levels of happiness and charitable giving.

    A fun disclosure for you: I am Catholic. I've been to individual congregations that don't provide a good atmosphere to make friendships and I currently belong to one that provides an excellent atmosphere for that.

    Something to think about: Concluding something about an entire social group such as Catholicism or Christianity in general from your experience with a singular (or just a few) congregation(s) or individual(s) is a logical fallacy. Claim belief in science, but you should really learn to practice it properly just as those of faith should really learn to practice love properly if they really want to claim faith in their belief system. Atheism shouldn't deny the scientific (sociological) impact of religion as a social group, nor should (most) religion deny love, compassion, and understanding.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • QS

      "Atheism shouldn't deny the scientific (sociological) impact of religion as a social group...."

      Speaking of generalizations.

      As an Atheist let me just clarify – most of us don't "deny" the impact of religion as a social group, we simply see that impact as being more of a negative one in regards to how it affects the psyche of a large majority of humans on this planet....namely, the herd mentality.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Big Ed

      QS...you're just a "smaller herd"...

      December 7, 2010 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
    • QS

      Funny how the mentality of the "smaller herd" seems to be so much more logical and rational as to not allow for the possiblity of going to war because somebody's god was insulted.

      This is why I believe the perfect POTUS would be an Atheist....no chance of mixing church and state for sure then! :-p

      December 7, 2010 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
    • MB

      QS: The "herd mentality" you mention is inherent in any social group. Individuals tend to conform to the values/beliefs of the social groups they belong to regardless of the basis of the social group.

      As for religion being a "negative", that is highly doubtful. First off, religious organizations perform the vast majority of social outreach and humanitarian work in the world.

      Also, while, yes, wars have begun over religious differences, *many* have also come about because of territory disputes (think French and English claims to each other's respective crowns in the past or the current North/South Korea conflict), economic reasons, and other non-religious claims for "knowing better" (think Communist China forcefully suppressing Tibetan and Uyghur populations).

      From a scientific (sociological) standpoint, religion is just another social group that performs the same functions as others. Namely a group of people with shared values and beliefs.

      Also, "Atheism shouldn't deny the scientific (sociological) impact of religion as a social group...." makes no claim that Atheism does not do that. The statement simply claims that those people who choose to claim Atheist beliefs, *shouldn't* (notice the operative word) deny the sociological impact of religion. This comment was in response to a large number of comments on this (and other) articles in which people claiming to be Atheists seem to magically forget their own belief system when forming arguments against another.

      Lastly, here's another example for one to think of: Politics. Political affiliation is another type of social group. These social groups are based upon a specific set of values and beliefs. Each has arguments to back up these values and beliefs as truths. Further, because these groups deal with very broad topics, you inevitably get individuals who are part of each affiliation, but may not personally agree 100% with the group. To continue belonging to the group, they begin to support all the values/beliefs of that group. Herd mentality. Doing what the people around you are doing to continue to belong to a group.

      Denying religion because of "brainwashing" or "herd mentality" would also negate every single social group that ever has or ever will exist as these phenomena are inherent to the creation of social groups.

      Atheism serves a similar function as religions do. They are both social belief systems which aim at explaining how the world works.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
    • Fr. Murphy

      MB.... Excellent well-qualified responses.

      December 7, 2010 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      How is not believing in a god/s a belief system?

      Is that the old ' bald is a hair color' theory?

      December 7, 2010 at 17:42 | Report abuse |
  29. jesuguru

    Still a potentially flawed study, as correlation still doesn't equal causation. Most of those studied are reported as Christian (Protestant/Catholic), and Christians are called to believe and follow the Bible in which Christ said, "A new command I give you: love one another," and elsewhere states "the fruit of the Spirit is love".

    From my understanding of the Bible and my own Christian experience, it seems rather that those who are truly walking with Christ are being changed inwardly – being slowly but steadily taught and compelled to become more loving AND more lovable.

    So rather than their friends making them happy in a faith context, perhaps it's their faith that's slowly but surely making them happier (and better) people – and in turn, making them more willing and able to form friendships.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. blue

    Religion is for people afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chris

      Oprah! Is it you??

      December 7, 2010 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Define spirituality.

      December 7, 2010 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
  31. trainspot

    Meanwhile, there was a study found that shows people who believe in a form of deity have a lower IQ than atheists and agnostics. I guess ignorance really is bliss.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Greg

      There are a lot of things I would like to say, but my low IQ is currently hindering me.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Same. I'd love to comment, but my 3 science degrees and various academic awards are not enough to match wit with trainspot; you know, due to my faith-impaired IQ. lol...

      December 7, 2010 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Psalm 41:1 – the fool has said in his heart "there is no God"

      I don't care what my IQ is, just as long as God doesn't call me a fool.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
  32. John

    I am an atheist, and I believe that I am much happer than many other intellectual people who are trying to fit in religion into their lives because they want to fit in in the religious society they live in, be it the U.S. or Iran. The reason is that I can be honest with myself and the world, and don't need to compromize my intellect in order to fit in some ficticious, invisible being called "God". At least Marx was right about one thing, namely that religion really is the opium of the people. As an atheist, I can be truly moral without having to compromize my conscience in order to fit in the Bible's notions and doctrines about what is moral and immoral. Most immoral things in the history of humanioty have been conducted in the name of religion. Religion causes so much tragedy, including in the Israel-Palestince conflict, where both sides claim that "God" has given the land to them... While I can live a life free of fear, religious people have to worry about what "God" or their holy book wants them to do. I can live life to the fullest, and I can be there for others instead of for some Church.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leslie

      I agree.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
    • branch15

      So atheism breeds bravery, religion breeds fear? You might want to look at studies of suicides. What a ridiculous statement.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • Jimi

      God doesn't believe in Athesist, but he sure does love them. Don't sell yourself short for the temporal things of this world John. God is real and loves you very much and has much more to offer you than this world or Satan could ever come up with. Don't put your faith in man they will fail you every time. God Bless.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
  33. Sam

    Being happy is a funny notion. I relate being happy to being content and fulfilled. Usually if a person is doing a job they love and have enough of the comforts of life they feel happy and fulfilled. This is why some people can work for months in the Artic or Amazon where you hardly have any human contact. I believe though that as created beings from God, we were made to worship our creator. This is our primary duty to fulfill and we do this by following his directions and giving the glory of lives to him. Some of the ways are by being generous and caring to others around us. Doing this will give us the utmost sense of accomplishment in life. Thus we will have the greatest sense of happiness and contentment.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. JennyTX

    I used to go to church, but then I realized that the whole "virgin birth" thing was a bit too far-fetched.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      ..actually, scientifically speaking there are a lot of other things in the physical and biological universe that are more far-fetched. But whatever selective criticism makes you happy.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • Jimi

      Jenny, do not lean on your own understanding. All things are possible with God. God works in the supernatural as opposed to the natural like we do. Just ask him to reveal himself to you with a sincere heart, and watch what happens! God Bless.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Maybe the far-fetched part is that there were many phrophets in other religions before Christ that claimed to also be born of virgins. Or maybe the far-fetched part is that is supposed to be evidence or proof of his divinity. With 10's of prophets/gods before him that had the same claim, it is of course open to skepticism. If you want to make people believe you are devine, tell them you were born of a virgin. Even if true, parthinogenesis doesn't lead you to believe that he was the son of the god of the universe.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
  35. David in Corpus

    I love blogs. No matter how good an argument is made (I am not saying most of the arguments on these blogs are that well thought out) someone can always refute it somehow, and then what they said will again be refuted equally well. I have been humbled quite a few times by you lovely people. Keep up the sarcasm, hippocracy, and hatred. I feed off it like a fat chick feeds on chocalate (please someone tell me now that my opinion is totally unworthy because I misspelled chocalate and didn't use spell check. SIN SIN!!

    December 7, 2010 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • iShane

      lol. it's amazing isn't it. Really makes you wonder whether a society could actually work with true 'divercity' as it's center mantel, and how Machiavelli starts to actually make 'logical' sense when held in comparison to the lack of social framework therein. And that 'culture' is nothing more than a 'standard' set of rules, that people of like mind, keep, to keep some semblance of harmony.

      Unlike all of the bickering prevalent on forums, blogs, news articles etc..

      The internet and all of it's 'information' has in my view done more social damage than good, only because, there was no plan (as usual), leaving us in a place NOT ready for it/to deal with it.

      The mere fact that just twenty years ago, a TV with only four channels, beside itself/intentions, knitted a tighter social fabric because of it's limitations, in that, at 8pm Sunday, because pretty much EVERYONE watched the same thing, that built common ground/information for the next days water cooler conversation.

      Sometimes it's nice to be on the same page, even if it's only a paragraph long.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Let me tell you how wrong you are DAVID!
      Fat people rarely get fat on chocolate alone, but mostly due to sugary sodas and high fat fast foods! I wish you'd get your facts straight!!!!

      December 7, 2010 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
  36. Listener

    Divided we are, divided we will fall. This nation is a wreck.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. David in Corpus

    Howdy there jenny, my fellow Texan!

    December 7, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. capnmike

    Religion doesn't make ME happy...it makes me DISGUSTED! It is amazing how many people actually believe this pack of lies and hogwash. Even to the point of fighting each other and arguing about it like it was real. The human race has a VeRY long way to go to grow up.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Madgolfer31

    Oh, sociologists... there is a reason why you are called the softest of the sciences. From one quick glance at this I can point out the holes. The first thing they teach you when doing studies like this (studying correlation and cause/effect) is that 'correlation does not mean causation'! Just because people who have many close friends at church tend to be happier than people who don't doesn't mean it is the cause. Could it not also be that those who are involved regularly in the worship of Jesus are the ones who follow his commandments and get involved in churches (John 13:34-35, 15:12, 15:17, 1John 3:11, 3:23, 4:11)? This would lead to having many close friends at church, which was the basis for your saying that they are happier. In the end it still could be a relationship with Jesus that makes the difference, not that they have more friends there. Then again, 'how many friends someone has at church' is much more easy to answer than if someone has a real relationship with Jesus. (this is called co-linearity between variables – two variables that are highly correlated, each of which is also highly correlated to another variable – it leads to mis-applying the cause of a relationship you are styding).

    To end it all – I apologize if I sound arrogant in my post. As an engineer I get mad at people who don't do good science and make it into the news.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Greg

      @ Madgolfer1

      I am an engineer as well, and agree with your analysis. I also happen to be a golfer who is quite often mad.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
    • MB

      Or you could realize that the "causation" spin you are thinking about was implied by the CNN article writer and not the study itself.

      The actual study makes no claim at causation. It correctly points out that they merely see a correlation between the two.

      Sociological research standards are among the highest in the U.S. specifically because it is easy to misinterpret findings. One of the very first things sociology students learn is "correlation is not causation". In order to do a sociological study through a university, be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and/or to avoid legal issues, most sociological studies are presented to ethics committees well before funding has been secured. These ethics committees not only look at the possible impact of the study on the people involved, but also go over the research methods extensively to make sure they conform to high standards of scientific reasoning.

      Most sociological studies are heavily misinterpreted and/or twisted by the media to get hits. True sociological studies are held to standards at least as high as, if not more so, than most of your "hard" sciences.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
  40. joewilson

    "As important as your religious beliefs may be to you, they don't necessarily make you happier"

    exactly. so stop the nonsense.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Tyler

    Does it matter? If if makes someone happy, and makes then strive to be a better person, then good for them.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Leslie

    I think religious people who go to church are fulfilling a very real evolutionary need. It was a basic survival requirement in our past to be part of a pack. Of course emotional benefits would transfer to the present day. I think religions provide the tribal element in our collective selves.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andy

      Bingo.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Uh oh, I'm going to church because of evolution, the universe is about to implode on itself!!!

      December 7, 2010 at 19:02 | Report abuse |
  43. steveo

    Religion.....what a waste of time.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. give me a break

    One – religion is LA LA land – that is why people are "happy" about religion. Reality sucks so people will use any excuse to avoid reality.
    Two – the church gatherings have nothing to do with GOD – it's simple friendships. People that play golf – play golf with other golfers; people that like chess – play chess with other chess players, etc.
    Three – can someone name me a tolerant relition? As far as I know they're all the same – OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      God loves everyone, even if verious religious leaders say he doesn't.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  45. QS

    What I got from this article is that religion is irrelevant, friends are what's important. As an Atheist, I'm happier in my life when religion is as far removed from it as possible, but also knowing I have a close-knit group of friends who accept me for who I am.

    The philosophy this article presents, to me, would actually be more fitting in a conversation about LGBT youth – the sense of belonging that the article refers to which makes so many religious people happier, is precisely what religion all but tries to remove from the realm of possiblity for any gay person.

    All I can really say is that if you base your happiness on how many friends you have that believe the same as you, you're denying yourself the full potential of happiness that lies in knowing and embracing diversity.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Jimbo

    While I have no problem with religious people's happiness one way or the other, the article seems to proceed on the premise that religious people are happier than nonreligious people. I've seen no evidence of this one way or the other either by research, nor personal observation. Religious people seem to be happy or unhappy at approximately the same rate as nonreligious people, and largely for the same reasons. )ie, money, economy, family life, etc... etc...)

    December 7, 2010 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MB

      The article makes no claim that religious people are happier than non-religious people. It is merely stating that in the confines of religion as a social group, those who have more friends within that social group tend to be happier.

      The twist you are implying comes from the author of the CNN article, not the scientific study itself.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
  47. Greg

    It is unfortunate that religion as a whole gets such a bad rap as a result of primative histores and modern day media attention. Most religions have dark periods.. but these were usually fed and spurred by SECULAR rulers seeking power and land in the name of God (or a higher power). The VAST majority of Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc are peaceful, unobtrusive, and otherwise very normal people who simply find comfort in the fact that there is something out there greater than us.

    Why people feel the need to stomp on that sort of good feeling is beyond me.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jimbo

      Greg, I hate to disagree, but prior to modern times, where many of the religious attrocities were comitted, there really were no such things as "secular" governments or rulers. Kings and queens were given their high office by "divine right", as witnessed by the religious authority. These rulers shared a symbiotic relationship with the church, the legitimacy of their rule enforced by the religious authority, and the state religion as enforced by the rulers, and in some cases, parlamentary bodies. These kingdoms were far closer to theocracies, than to secularism.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
    • QS

      "The VAST majority of Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc are peaceful, unobtrusive..."

      Really? Unobtrusive? Ask any average person of any of the faiths you mentioned above how they feel about gay marriage and then come back and tell me how unobtrusive they are in the life of an average gay person!

      December 7, 2010 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Someone needs a crash course in ancient and medieval history. Monarchs hated the Church. There was a never ending power struggle between the pope and the crowns of Europe. Thwey used eachother... but don't be foolish enough to think that any King would risk his entire empire in the name of any God. Here you give religion too much credit.

      December 7, 2010 at 16:12 | Report abuse |
  48. Dave

    Wait....so they were looking at factors of religion that can bring happiness, and didn't look at non-religious people for comparison? Maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of the study... ie. it doesn't matter what they find, if they don't compare it to non-religious cases, they can't say that their findings are at all specific to religion.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fr. Murphy

      Excellent point.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • MB

      Their study does matter. It matters when looking at religion as a social group and what factors *within that social group* correlate with increased happiness.

      They weren't trying to see if religious people were happier than non-religious people. While the author of this CNN post either purposefully or ignorantly claimed that this study found that sort of correlation, it is untrue.

      This is a perfect example of a problem in reporting: misinterpretation of the facts. A properly educated reporter would have properly stated what the study looked at and what the studies conclusions really were, not extrapolating their own conclusions or interpretations.

      December 7, 2010 at 17:34 | Report abuse |
  49. Seth

    We need to think globally without borders as one race. Its an outside the box approach, but why keep segregating ourselves with things like race and religion. It must stop. Look at the middle east, the holy land. Yea its holy alright. Full of bullett holes. Killing in the name of... but why? WE'RE ALL THE SAME!

    December 7, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. DHizz

    I'm not sure why people think religious people should be "tolerant". Certainly, we shouldn't force our beliefs on others but most of the comments I've seen here expect me as a Christian to agree that "what's right for you may not be what's right for me". That's not only an incorrect view of tolerance, it's ignorant and completely illogical. If I say Jesus is God and a Muslim says Jesus is not God, we both can't be right. If I say there is a God and an atheist says there is no God, we can't both be right. I can tolerate his belief, pray for him, etc but for me to agree that we're both right is stupid. So, the "my way or the highway" comment is based on a definition of truth rather than a nature of religion. As far as the comments about religious people being in la la land and there being no evidence for God, that's not true either. There are many proofs for God – a creator of the universe that are inferred from science. The universe had a beginning – this can be proven by science. There is evidence of design. There is an embedded sense of morality in humans that seems to cross cultural and generational boudaries. In any event, people don't want to believe in God because they want to live free of consequence.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tim

      You need to work on your definition of proof. Proof cant be inferred.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Atheists don't say there is no god, they say they don't believe in a god. Completely different things.

      And things existing is not evidence of magic. Geesh!

      December 7, 2010 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
    • Q

      There is no evidence for design, only an interpretation which presupposes a particular meaning i.e., ID = apophenia.

      December 9, 2010 at 00:59 | Report abuse |
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