Let’s pretend for a minute that I wasn’t a skeptical person – that I didn’t ask a million questions. Maybe I was lacking common sense and needed a far-fetched explanation to squash my fear of the unknown. Maybe I was raised in a church and didn’t know any different.
I am constantly bombarded with Christianity and sometimes it wears me down. What if I just gave in? If you can’t beat them, join them, right?
As much as I’m cringing writing this, you have to admit, there are a few positive aspects to Christianity. First, many Christians feel at home at their church. That’s a sense of community I don’t have. Religion provides rules and a certain plan for life so many Christians feel they have a purpose. Not to mention, the thought of going to heaven when you die is probably pretty comforting. Maybe not having to think for yourself is a relief to some. If you didn’t know any different, wouldn’t Christianity feel safe? Also, Christians are the majority here where as an atheist I often feel ostracized and judged — silenced even.
What if I had these things? If I was a Christian with blind faith, would I be happier? Would my life be simpler?
I imagine bonding with my coworkers, having a sense of community I’ve longed for, and maybe getting a little more sleep — after all, I’m going to heaven when I die. I imagine feeling safer and more confident.
What I am describing would require blind faith, and it’s in my nature to question. To be honest, I find it hard to believe that there are people who don’t question anything. I think everyone questions but few are willing to admit it. Personally, I couldn’t call myself a Christian and live with those doubts.
So would I be happier? We all know the horror stories that accompany Christianity and certain churches, but if you just consider the aspects I listed above, I think I actually would be happier. Comfort, safety, purpose – I mean, who wouldn’t want those things?
But it’s just not me. I was even skeptical as a child and I don’t like being lied to. I will live a more difficult life if it means evidence and common sense are valued. That’s what’s important to me. I feel strong and grounded as an atheist which has positively impacted my recovery – that’s also very important to me.
What do you guys think? Would you be happier if you were a Christian with blind faith? What would that look like in your life? I live in a red state in the Midwest so that definitely affects how I look at religion. What would these aspects look like where you live? I’m sure there have been many studies done on religion and happiness, but I think it’s really interesting to consider scenarios on a very personal level.
Yes, probably. Just like my three year old is happy.
Of course Christianity has positive aspects, otherwise it wouldn’t be so popular. Any psychological crutch that allows you to ignore some of the responsibilities and difficulties of being a grownup is going to have upsides, and arguably superior mental health is going to be one of them. Placebos work. /shrug/
If I had blind faith, I’d probably be happier. But I’d probably be happier if I had a developmental disorder and a mental age of 8.
I think my conclusion is that just being happy isn’t enough.
In the words of Slartibartfast:
S: “I’d far rather be happy than right.”
Arthur: “And are you?”
S: “No. That’s where it all falls down of course.”
You would have to become a totally different person. So, no. I tried that course of action in my late teens, early twenties. It didn’t work and I wasn’t happier.
John Morales says
The list of “advantages” of being a Christian are the same advantages as for being in any other cult.
If a Satan character actually existed, and took over the world temporarily, then this standard Christian logic would dictate becoming a devout worshipper of Satan. How can Christians expect any support for a belief system that justifies them worshiping their Enemy? Clearly, there is no moral core to normal Christian beliefs. I’d be ashamed to be Christian even if it were the last belief system left.
Raging Bee says
The list of “advantages” of being a Christian are the same advantages as for being in any other cult.
Subject to change without notice?
I’m Christian, I occasionally ( rarely ) wish I was a fundie because I get a lot , I mean a LOT of toxic pushback because I accept modern science and I’m Black . I’m also rather stubborn so I REFUSE to accept creationism because it’s ignorant nonsense and it’s hard to not argue. You really don’t want those arguments with relatives.
Pretty much what maggie said, except it was teens to 21.
Depends. Cosmology suggest there could well really be parallel universes where maybe you’ve done this and are Christian -but also parallel universes where slavery still exists, where the bad guys won, even an alternative cosmos where Trump became POTUS instead of HRC back in 2016 .. Oh. (Expletives.)
Do you think those versions of “you” would be happier?
Thinking versions, which version and interpretation of Christianty?
Do the Christians stop at those just aquiescing a bit and following along for the sake of peace and socialising conversions or do they want to go further and further all the time? Will they insist, as #4 Brightmoon noted, on people believing not just Jesus but Creationist Jesus, Republican Jesus, Republican Trump worshipping prosperity gospel Jesus that contradicts everything that ancient Judaean teacher supposedly said? Or Koresh’es Waco, Jonestown or Westboro Baptists versions of “Jesus” that gives his male cult leader all the power over everyone to the point where you literally drink the poisoned Kool Aide after forcing your kids to do so then die in front of you and then setting yourselves and your home on fire so that you sacrifice everything for the ego of the guy that claims he either is Jesus or the next thing to him?
Are the Christians really that much happier constantly worrying about sin and are their self-reinforcing, “keep telling us we’re right” sermons and rituals (because at some level we know we’re not so are threatened by exposure to anything contradictory like schoolbooks we have have to censor and people we have to demonise) rituals enough to stop all of them doubting or sinning or being victims of their leaders losing so much else? Are they happy trapped in a supernatural imaginary misogynist world clinging desperately, furiously, meanly to a mindset that proved itself false and hypocritical centuries ago? Being so and about things like reproductive healthcare, equal marraige, LGBTQIA people being themselves, atheists existing etc .. that are considered by them to be wrong but which others rightly see as natural and fine and worth appreciating and treating kindly now?
I don’t know that they are. I guess it depends on their version and their church and their preacher and their willingness to not think, not be who they are in some cases, to sacrifice time and so much more to imaginary constructs that can be abused and turn them hateful and harmful unto others depsite the supposed goodness and forgivingness of the God they claim to worship..
As a teen, then as a young adult, what primarily drew me to the church was a sense of community and brotherly bonding, the prospect of hope, and the concept of grace, loving grace. Yet, as wonderful and appealing as those allurements seemed to me, they wouldn’t matter one wit or make Heaven any more a fact, if nothingness was indeed the case for the latter, regardless how much faith, heart, and amenability I poured into belief.
In my “walk” despite giving it my best go, this was a thought I could never shake from my head, leading me eventually to an inevitability: to live with starkness rather than certainty. So I left Christianity. Would I miss some of the joys? Undoubtedly.
Still, I’m happier with myself having discarded the baseless perks of all such numinous thoughts, rather than feigning truths I had no proof were so.
Besides, community, bonding, grace, hope can still be practiced without spirituality. In lieu of faith, not a bad pursuit methinks, and far more grounded.
I do not believe I’d be happier if I were Christian.
1)I’m trans. I know queer people who pretended to be cis and straight to appease their churches. It’s doesn’t make them happier.
2)While many Christians say Christianity is the only way to be happy, a lot of them also say they are oppressed for being Christian and that atheists are the only ones who get to have fun.
i was a believer once and I wasn’t happy. Of course, it was mostly the normal unhappiness of being a teenager. But I still didn’t fit in with other Christians. I knew most of what I was being told was bullshit. I didn’t get a single thing I prayed for. And to be a Christian in today’s America would mean being associated with attacks on human rights. science, democracy, knowledge, etc. Churches are kind of cool. Other than that, I don’t see an up side.
Marcus Ranum says
Mark Twain deals with that question with typical style in The Mysterious Stranger (highly recommended) in which we encounter a supreme being and, at one point, a depressed individual. The protagonist asks if the supreme being could so anything to help out the depressed individual, and the supreme being snaps his fingers and the depressed individual loses his mind and becomes delusional, thinking he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The protagonist complains and the supreme being replies, “look at him, how happy he is, commanding the armies of France and conquering the world!”
Asking “would I be happier if I had faith” is tantamout to asking “would I be happier if I lived in a largely fictional ‘reality’?” Of course. But only so long as you don’t have to realize it’s all fiction.
Dago Red says
I think to look at religious “benefits” in isolation, and think they would make us “happier” people, is ignoring the complex nature of genes (which, to a large part, define how we behave and what we end up believing). Gene expression is always far more complex and insidious in their effects upon our lives than we casually observe. We often only detect/observe the low-hanging fruit in gene expression — e.g. eye/hair/skin colors — but we likewise miss the hormonal, developmental, and other chemical effects that same exact gene expression causes, sometimes, in utterly unrelated areas of our brains and bodies (for example: the effects of breeding canines for certain “domesticated” personality traits throughout the centuries, has also introduced other dramatic changes in seemingly unrelated areas of their biology, such as coat color, patterns, and texture, shapes of noses and ears, etc. This is why our pet dogs no longer act like wolves but also why they don’t look anything like them either).
So, when we look at the positives of “religion” we are likely missing many other traits that are also inextricably linked to those observable positive traits because the links are not readily apparent. I would conjecture that many of the “happy” behaviors you listed above in religious folks may also be inextricably linked to the many thoughts/ideas/behaviors for which we atheists so strongly criticize them. Their path to happiness is likely just more accessible, more humanly instinctual, than that of non-religious people. However, the religious people never seem to get to a real understanding to why things happen the way they do in our lives — religious “solutions” always seem to be little more than adding a pretty coat of paint to an otherwise structurally defective house. Religion never really does an actual structural analysis, nor does it actually get us to a point where we can even form a real plan to fix the house itself. This latter path of planning is always going to be more complex, more expensive, more frustrating, more time consuming –and, ultimately, more likely to fail in being realized too — but. if we do this work to realize this plan, this way is always the better path in the long run, in both remodeling a house and in learning how to get through life.
Marcus Ranum says
I may also mention that religion (in spite of its claims!) does very little moral instruction. Unless, by “moral instruction” you accept a litany of authoritarian assertions. Why should we not kill? Because god says so. Meanwhile, human philosophers have spent thousands of years trying to put teeth, or sense, behind those assertions: well, you don’t want to live in a world where people kill eachother, and if you go around killing people that’s the environment you are creating, says Immanuel Kant. Because the faithful tend to be shallow thinkers – after all, you have to be, to accept authoritarianism – we have this weird divide where some people accept “thou shalt worship no graven images” as a moral precept, on the same page as “do unto others…” Why is this relevant? Because shallow thinkers who accept authoritarianism are less likely to be unhappy with that acceptance – though they may be unhappy with its results.
To add to my comment . You’d be miserable as a fundie ( autocorrect just “corrected” that to fungus) : Misogyny, self hatred and irrational discredited beliefs about natural phenomena at a minimum. Add children and wives as property with no say and you’re looking at family members as prisoners. Belief in a deity or deities ( note that I didn’t say Christian) is VERY personal , the toxic and extremely harmful social aspects don’t belong.