Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Those who sometimes believe in God are the least happy: Does believing in God contribute to happiness, unhappiness, or is it neutral? Here are the mean sadness score from the General Social Survey (1=very happy, 2=pretty happy, 3=not too happy):

Mean Sadness Score--Whites

Doesn't believe 1.79
No way to find out 1.88
Some higher power 1.77
Believes sometimes 1.93
Believes but doubts 1.82
Knows God exists 1.73

Mean Sadness Score--Blacks

Doesn't believe 1.86
No way to find out 2.00
Some higher power 2.04
Believes sometimes 2.26
Believes but doubts 2.08
Knows God exists 1.97

These numbers echo my earlier analysis that it isn't so healthy to be squishy on these issues. Emile Durkheim argued that it is a pathological condition to have Socrates' outlook: "The only thing I know is that I know nothing."

Some might think that atheists would be miserable, but they are the happiest black group, and the third happiest white group. The differences are not large, but they are statistically significant.


  1. Anonymous7:09 AM

    Perhaps the if you believe in God, you despair over all the evil things that happen in the world? Simplistic, yes, but I am specifically of thinking about the phrase, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Why do evil people seem to prosper, etc...? The religious may say that this is part of God's plan in some way, but deep down, do they really believe that starving children are part of God's plan?

  2. Anonymous9:24 AM

    If, like Homer Simpson, you believe that, "life is just a bunch of stuff that happens..." you can't exactly have a crisis of faith.

  3. I'd be miserable if I believed in God: the Old Testament paints him as a nasty piece of work.

  4. Anonymous9:16 PM

    Yes, that' why I believe in Magical Gum Drop Man and the Lollipop fairies. They are nice pieces of work.


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