Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scarred-for-life born-agains: Some secularists believe that kids brought up in evangelical homes are brainwashed and scarred for life because of the abuses they endure. You know, being given a clear worldview, that sort of thing, as opposed to letting them develop their own. The evil sociologist Emile Durkheim was in cahoots with these cultists when he wrote that grown-ups who are wandering intellectually are in an abormal, anomic state.

Close to half of born-agains accept Jesus when they're kids, so let's see if they're more likely to end up scarred and miserable:


Percent in each category (GSS, N = 10,441)

Born agains
Very happy 35.2
Pretty happy 51.9
Not too happy 12.9

Non-Born agains
Very happy 28.8
Pretty happy 58.8
Not too happy 12.7

Yes, I can see damage of epic proportions. (Also keep in mind that fewer evangelicals earn college degrees, and people with college degrees tend to be happier).

Here I see one aspect of my education I'm grateful for: to not be scared or freaked out by people who are different from me. Religion bashers betray a real narrowness that many of them would condemn in other contexts.

18 comments:

Jason said...

"The fact that a believer may be happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunk is happier than a sober man."

- George Bernard Shaw

Make you a deal: you can have all the happiness your belief affords you, but in return, you have to return the first-world standard of living and medicine earned by skeptics for whom "God did it" and "God said so" weren't enough.

No deal? Oh, that's right. A modern pluralistic society lets you have both. Gaining the benefits while doing none of the mental heavy lifting.

That may be the reason that unbelievers are less happy. How'd you like to do all the work and get less of the credit, not to mention have the happiness of the superstitious rubbed in your face?

Actually, I'm very happy. Nothing makes me smile with wild joy like a fine display of irony, and our world is certainly full of it.

TGGP said...

You teach sociology, right? Maybe you could have a post on the subject in general or Durkheim in particular without all the marxist/po-mo nonsense generally associated with the subject.

Tom said...

Umm, Jason, look at the history of science. No lack of Christians there.

Unbelievers do all the work? So we religious types just sit around and collect public benefits, I suppose.

Blind prejudice is a sign of stupidity, not intelligence.

Jewish Atheist said...

Obviously religion makes a lot of people happy. Why else would they believe in it?

I look forward to your next post: children who believe in Santa happier, more well-balanced than those who don't.

Jim Bowery said...

My experience with fundamentalist Christian upbringing was that it served as an intellectual vaccine. The more irrational aspects of the religious doctrine were relatively easy to throw off during adolescence, despite parental reinforcement. (This may have had something to do with the fact that my parents took seriously the "age of accountability" doctrine which basically says that once you reach sexual maturity you have free moral agency.)

As I went from high school to college, many of the same emotional and thought patterns among my more liberal Protestant friends -- that had been so obvious in the more fundamentalist environment -- were emerging in the secular environment. However that the focus was on a secular religion supported not by the Bible and seminaries but by mass media and academia.

Ironically, fundamentalist upbringing was my Red Pill.

Anonymous said...

Tom said...Umm, Jason, look at the history of science. No lack of Christians there.

Unbelievers do all the work? So we religious types just sit around and collect public benefits, I suppose.

Blind prejudice is a sign of stupidity, not intelligence.
Sure, in the pre-enlightenment days when atheism was a crime and Christianity monopolized all institutions, the believers were making all the big contributions. Things have changed though. Now in the United States we have freedom of religion, despite the fact that 90% of Americans believe in God, only about 7% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do.

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell, why is blogger.com fucking up the format of my posts?

Ron Guhname said...

"Sure, in the pre-enlightenment days when atheism was a crime and Christianity monopolized all institutions, the believers were making all the big contributions. Things have changed though. Now in the United States we have freedom of religion, despite the fact that 90% of Americans believe in God, only about 7% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do."

So, the lack of contributions by atheists when the instutions were theist-dominated is to be understood, but the lack of contributions by theists in atheist-dominated institutions now is not?

Ron Guhname said...

"The fact that a believer may be happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunk is happier than a sober man."

It isn't to the point if the question is truth, but it is precisely the point if the question is happiness. I was addressing the claim that evangelists are unhappy.

Jewish Atheist said...

So, the lack of contributions by atheists when the instutions were theist-dominated is to be understood, but the lack of contributions by theists in atheist-dominated institutions now is not?It's not a function of the institutions, it's a function of what the smart people of the day believe. Pre-Darwin, they didn't know any better than to be religious. (Intelligence does not preclude ignorance. Without Darwin, the diea of the personal God was a much more reasonable hypothesis. Although, even then, many were probably just faking it so as not to be burned at the stake, literally or metaphorically.)

Post-Darwin, the great (and even average) scientists are largely atheists or deists.

Ron Guhname said...

"Post-Darwin, the great (and even average) scientists are largely atheists or deists."


Yes, it does look like the advance of science, particularly after Darwin, brought with it the advance of atheism. If that was a necessary development, I applaud it because science has proven its effectivness in amazing ways. Nothing touches it, as far as I'm concerned. (But I limit this to non-social sciences). Religion is a more mixed picture.

Lover of Wisdom said...

That quote from George Bernard Shaw is plain silly. The term 'happier' is being used in a duplicitous manner. 'Happier' relates primarily to physical pleasure in the context of a drunk; but 'happier' relates primarily to a general outlook on life—both spiritually and emotionally—in the context of religious believers. Please note that this latter meaning of the term is being used by Emile Durkheim in his platitude about being "scarred for life," which Inductivist is debunking.

Jason said...

"It isn't to the point if the question is truth, but it is precisely the point if the question is happiness."

It is precisely to the point if the question is happiness. It's hard to be happy when you're dead. It's only after we stopped accepting "God did it" that we were able to figure out what actually caused disease and extend lifespans. And that's just one improvement in standard of living that occurred after rejecting "God" as an explanation.

Even the nominal Christians who still work in science had to reject God in the context of their field. They may be Christians at home or on Sunday, but Monday-Friday at work, they reject God and his agency as totally as any atheist.

Anonymous said...

Ron Guhname said...So, the lack of contributions by atheists when the instutions were theist-dominated is to be understood, but the lack of contributions by theists in atheist-dominated institutions now is not?The lack of contributions by atheists in the early days of science should be understood within the context of a society that criminalized atheism. The disproportionate contributions of atheists in modern science should be understood within the context of a modern society in which institutions don't systematically discriminate based on religious affiliation.

Ron Guhname said...

"Even the nominal Christians who still work in science had to reject God in the context of their field."

They did not have to reject him--they had to ignore him. Nowhere have I argued that people should turn away from science. This blog is more empirical than anything else. You're arguing with someone else.

Tom said...

...only about 7% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do...

Funny, that doesn't jive with my college experience, used to see my profs in church. I suspect that a lot of believers in the sciences are now afraid to admit to being Christian, for fear of ostracism. Pretty wimpy of them, but...

Anonymous said...

Tom said....
Funny, that doesn't jive with my college experience, used to see my profs in church. I suspect that a lot of believers in the sciences are now afraid to admit to being Christian, for fear of ostracism. Pretty wimpy of them, but....
Your discarding actual data because of a personal anecdote about your college professors. The aforementioned poll of the members of the National Academy of Sciences didn't publish their names, so they have no reason to fear retribution for being believers.

Anonymous said...

"So, the lack of contributions by atheists when the instutions were theist-dominated is to be understood, but the lack of contributions by theists in atheist-dominated institutions now is not?"

Is it progress that now Christians are as proficient as leftists in emulating the "victim" discourse, i.e., the blaming of one's "shotcomings" on others, i.e., powerful others ("the institutions")? At least that is not surprising - it was quite there, in their history.