I find it interesting that the countries that rate highest on the World Happiness Report ( Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Finland, Canada ) are the least religious. Conversely, those that rate the lowest ( Afghanistan, Togo, Syria, Burundi are the most religious ). Tell a Baptist preacher that you are an atheist, though, and he will ask you what went wrong in your life.

I suppose people that are suffering are more likely to turn to a deity thus seeking better times, now or after death. Of course that goes against free will and non intervention. What is the point of praying, or saying God bless America, when the bible states God will not intervene ? Religion is full of irony, contradictions and irrational thinking.

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 As a former "super Christian" as I was called by my friends much to my dismay. I can say that I am happier than I have ever been now with the realization there is no God. I wanted to be the best Christian I could. Really. It was loaded with guilt. Why were my prayers not answered? I made a point of unselfish prayers. Limited to let me know your will etc.  I never got an answer. I knew my sin,even unknown sin and lack of faith was my fault.....the guilt was unbearable.... eventually I became pessimistic and skeptical.  If God did not care why should I? Thank you pessimism and skepticism. I am now not feeling guilty for being a human that makes mistakes nor do I look to an imaginary friend that does not exist for help and guidance. I am free and empowered to make my own decisions! Interestingly this makes me feel MORE responsible for my actions...I am accountable for all that I do. It makes me feel much more responsible and accountable for my actions as there is no fairy to " forgive" me. Your observation is of no surprise to me. Thank you for sharing and echoing my thoughts.

I like that many of those top countries are about education and alternative means of transportation, Netherlands and Denmark are two countries where the bicycle counts as a way to move about!

I would tell a pastor that I finally read the Bible using logic and reasoning and found the myths and contradictions appalling at first and now find them hilarious.

That is what makes Thomas Jefferson's bible so interesting. He edited out all of the supernatural parts and translated it into 3 different languages. The founding fathers were not religious as many people claim.

Daniel,

I concur with most of what you have given, yet here is another study that gives one counter argument: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html?mcubz=1

My stepfather fell on Fathers Day and broke his hip. This happened because he is stubborn and insisted on living alone when he could barely walk in the first place. Someone told me "we will pray for him." WHY? Is god going to take away his dementia and give him back an ability that he lacked before his hip surgery? Please provide evidence for any person this has happened to. You can't do it. There is none.

I think the World Happiness Index is compelling: http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2016/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/03/rep...

It is difficult to dispute that correlation. I do think there is a placebo effect with religion though. Many successful boxers and mma fighters are highly religious. I'm sure placebo type results can occur with medical, faith and some shamanic healing. In such cases you would likely get the same result if you believed in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

John, I think you have summed it all up very nicely. The problem is that it's hard to get a religious person to see this.

I was most unhappy in a Baptist family.

Seeing relationships such as those portrayed here stirs for me memories of the behavior during the recent recession of some of the denizens of America's Wall Street.

A psychiatrist acquaintance once told me that psychopathy/sociopathy (now antisocial personality disorder) is more common among a nation's wealthy, and psychosis is more common among a nation's poor.

Has anyone seen any studies with plots of these relationhips?

I've put the following up more than once here, but one more time won't hurt:

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life.

-- George Bernard Shaw

It's been said that ignorance is bliss, and I think that correlates to the happiness expressed by believers. The problem is that it is a happiness which can have a price tag attached, being that of living one's life based on an untruth. So long as one remains blissfully ignorant of some unvarnished or inconvenient realities regarding one's faith, everything may be hunky-dory. If, however, curiosity causes one to investigate those beliefs past the surface, it becomes all too easy for Pandora's Box to open, educating that ignorance, at minimum creating some painful cognitive dissonance if not upsetting the faith applecart altogether.

Obviously, this is not necessarily the end state of losing one's faith, but it can be a painful part of the process, which is why organizations such as Recovering From Religion exist.  Still, it remains a process which can lead to being able to look reality in the eye and live with it, rather than participating in a pleasant but mendacious fiction.

When someone says that they'll pray for me I thank them because I think it's a genuine expression of goodwill.  I usually don't tell them that I also think that it's an act to make themselves feel better rather than actually doing something.  When a religious person is told that they're prayed for it's like getting "like" responses on Facebook -- a little endorphin rush from a feeling of belonging that helps them get through the day.  I don't see anything egregiously wrong with that; we're social animals that thrive on responses from our fellows.  But if praying is all that you do you're not a very effective human.  If my child was in the hospital and friends said "I'm praying for you", well that's fine but a little hollow.  If one of them said, "I'll go over and feed your dogs so that you don't have to drive home", now that's something real.  And there are varied opinions among religious communities -- whether works or piety get you closer to your collectively imagined deity.  In one society a callous on the forehead from incessant praying is a signal of devotion, while in another callouses on the hands from building houses for the poor is, and in yet another it's scars on the chest from the Sun Ceremony, or it's genital mutilation or tattoos or whatever it takes to send the required tribal signal.

It's no surprise that general populations in more secular and/or more culturally homogeneous nations are happier, or that individuals report greater happiness when their beliefs jibe with those surrounding them.  You could also note the correlation that Denmark and Switzerland are colder than Sudan and Israel, but what, if anything does that mean?  Maybe it means that global warming will breed more religious conflict.  Of course I'm being facetious.

What defines a sense of well-being for humans is largely the quality of our interactions with other humans.  I say this as a hermit living alone in the woods.  It's not the only thing; it's a necessary but perhaps not sufficient condition for happiness.  I admire a mountain lion's solitariness and self-sufficiency, but I'm not a cat.  I'm a naked ape who is dependent, as much I try not to be, on other naked apes in the vicinity.  Most of those are politically conservative Southern Baptists and I can either fight them or break bread with them.  Or I can avoid them, which results in me being less happy.

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