Open thread on episode #839

I apologize for the delay in getting this thread posted, gang. I suppose as I was co-host it was down to me, and I just flaked.

The morality question is one I have always found bizarre that Christians want to turn into tis profoundly difficult and inexplicable concept without bringing a deity into the mix. The thing is, when you back them up against the wall, you find (as I think I did in my line of questioning one caller) that they do not really, deep down, believe that it is impossible for them to understand differences between right and wrong unless they are constantly accompanied by a God, holding their hands like lost children, and telling them at each and every instance “This is right” or “This is wrong.”

And yet everything they have been taught to believe insists that they cling to that narrative. So cling to it they do, even after it has been shown to be entirely unnecessary.

I also wish they’d look up what “objective” means. If morality is based on the edicts of a deity, then it’s not objective.

Feisty show, anyway.

Open Thread AE 833: Religion & Depression

On the show I discussed the study published in Psychological Medicine that examined the relationship between religious beliefs and major depression. The prevailing view has been that religious belief provided some protective and/or mitigating effect on major depression. This study puts a serious dent in that view with its conclusion that “These results do not support the notion that religious and spiritual life views enhance psychological well-being.”

The study included over 8000 participants in seven countries and found that stronger religious beliefs were correlated with higher risk of depression. You can read the abstract of the study yourself here (unfortunately, you’ll have to pay if you want the full article), or you can read Tomas Rees excellent summary here.

Something I neglected to bring up on the show is the implication this research study has on the Army’s Spiritual Fitness program. As many of us foxhole atheists have known all along, religious belief is not some magic talisman that wards off depression, PTSD, or other mental health problems that may arise in humans exposed to traumatic events. In spite of this, the Army continues to promote a program that its own statistics show has, at best, had no effect on the suicide rate. At worst, this program may be exacerbating the suicide/depression rate among soldiers, if only by promoting something that doesn’t work over things that do work.

Anyway – open thread, so have at it.