left biblioblography: Atheism And The Value Of Life

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Atheism And The Value Of Life

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!The-Atheist-e

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than illumination.” - Lang.

Fresh off a discussion at the NoGodBlog about the value of life and atheism (starts right about...here), I engaged (and still am) a theist who made an incredibly brave statement: that secular countries have a HIGHER suicide rate, based on a study here, carried a little further here - which I think I dissected properly.

(I really wonder though - how many suicide notes were collected that stated that "There is no God! I can't live without Him!")

I think said fellow derived this nonsense from Andy Gadfly's errant idiocy - Conservapedia!

Ah yes, the bane of our existence! The most ill-informed source on the web, more like.

 I can name one prominent atheist who committed suicide - Ernest Hemingway. But one pea does not a pod make.

I will make a bold statement here - that the afterlife cheapens this life, rather than enriching it. It sure beats the epistemology of 'gee, it makes people HAPPY!'

For the most part, I'm fairly tolerant for a 'militant atheist'. If it helps you sleep at night, I'm down with that. But, as many of you know, I tend to crook a critical eyebrow at such pronouncements, and usually five minutes is all it takes to gnaw the bones of said philosophy, and find little marrow in them.

And really - if you're working towards a reward AFTER this life, then you're essentially working at nothing. The root source of your efforts to aid others is the result of a complex Pavlovian conditioning. A religious person is seeking a reward, after all. Brownie points. A pat on the head from on high. Call it what you will.

 And, on a serious note (and a bit different one, but not by much), there's this 'minor' caveat:

I find it terribly sobering that of all the countries, there's only two of them that are atheist on the list - Russia and China. For the most part, the Russian religious engagements aren't between atheists and theists, but between theist and theist. The Chinese government - they tend to be a bit fucked up in re: their human rights record. A lie that costs upwards of millions of lives, in the divisiveness it creates?

So, to nutshell:

Suicide is a serious issue. But to conclude that it's preventable by accepting some foolish anachronistic codex from the Bronze Age is...well, the philosophical question then becomes this: is it preferable to save a life with a lie? Is reality that insurmountable for some?

Food for thought.

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The Watcher said...

Whether atheists are happier than theists really isn't the point. We don't believe in something because it makes us happy, we believe in something because it's true. Whether it's comforting to us or not is irrelevant.

Equally irrelevant is the question of whether or not a person's changing their religious views will make them happier. If an atheist converts because being a theist would make him happier, then he is now blissfully believing in falsehood (of course, it might work in reverse too...I've been wrong about things before!). But either way, I doubt that converting alone is going to cure your physiologically-induced depression, regardless of which side you move to, or whether you support something that's true.

Stardust said...

doubt that converting alone is going to cure your physiologically-induced depression

I agree with this statement based on what I have seen with friends and family members who have gone from not being very religious to being quite religious. While they were depressed before they "got religion", they are still depressed but now have people to have a pity party with and who will give them all kinds of attention and their names perpetually on the prayer list for their perpetually depressed state. Their god apparently does not help them. They are going to have to come to the realization that they must change themselves (unless the pity and attention they are getting makes them happy.)