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November 10th, 2011
05:10 PM ET

Study links regular religious service attendance, outlook on life

By Gabe LaMonica, CNN

(CNN) - A new study shows that attending religious services regularly can mean a more optimistic, less depressed, and less cynical outlook on life.

In a follow-up to its 2008 report that found that attending services increases life expectancy, the Women's Health Initiative observational study based this report on a survey of 92,539 post-menopausal women over 50. The participants made up an ethnically, religiously, and socioeconomically diverse group.

According to the report, to be published this week in the Journal of Religion and Health, those who attend services frequently were 56% more likely to have an optimistic life outlook than those who don't and were 27% less likely to be depressed. Those who attended weekly were less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility, compared with those who did not report any religious service attendance.

"We looked at a number of psychological factors; optimism, depression, cynical hostility, and a number of subcategories and subscales involving social support and social strain," said Eliezer Schnall an associate professor of psychology at Yeshiva University in Manhattan, who headed the initiative.

"The link between religious activity and health is most evident in women, specifically older women," he said.

The research focused on an important group, because "as they are living longer," Schnall said, "seniors are a growing group, and women have longer lifespans than men."

The study, funded by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "unlike many other previous studies," said Schnall, broke down the idea of positive social support into subcategories.

Emotional support and informational support, such as sitting down with a priest or a rabbi to speak about difficulties; tangible support, like someone driving a participant to a doctor; affectionate support; and positive interaction were all examined in the initiative.

"There's evidence from other studies to suggest religious involvement may be particularly important in enhancing social interaction," Schnall said.

But a "relatively new thought in the field," according to Schnall, called "social strain," encompasses negative social support. The hypothesis is that, "though some studies have suggested that attending religious services is beneficial in a host of ways, there also comes with it a social strain."

Though there has been much discussion around this "new area of inquiry," Schnall said, "I certainly believe, or to my knowledge, we are the first to look at this construct," social strain.

The researchers identified social strain by asking questions like:
- "Of the people that are important to you, how many get on your nerves?"
- "Of the people who are important to you, how many ask too much of you?
- And, "of the people who are important to you, how many try to get you to do things that you do not want to do?"

"We did not find that those who attend religious services where characterized by additional social strain," Schnall said.

To identify optimism, he said, participants were asked to rated the following questions on a five-point scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree:
- "In unclear times I usually expect the best,"
- "If something can go wrong for me, it will,"
- "I hardly ever expect things to go my way."

Optimism is "about perceived control ... positive expectations ... empowerment, a fighting spirit, lack of helplessness - those are general definitions," Schnall said.

He conceded people could take a different message from the survey's results. "Someone who really wanted to take issue with the study" could say the results came out the way they did "maybe because optimists are drawn to believe in the divine."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief

soundoff (708 Responses)
  1. Reality

    And then there are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who never go to church since both are atheists. One wonders why older men were not included in the study.

    November 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  2. J

    We're happier than atheists because we're doing Gods will. That is what brings joy to a Christians life, is the love of God. If you want to know that love, pray to Jesus and ask Him to show you the truth. He will do it.

    November 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @J,
      Asked and NOT answered.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Reality

      Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

      So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rules of your religion or any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • HAHAHA

      "We're happier than atheists because we're doing Gods will. "

      Oh really and here I thought it had more to do with religious practice in general can encourage a "positive worldview, include calming rituals, and have other psychological and social benefits," the report said. The study found people who attend services regularly were 28 percent more likely to report having positive social support - which often meant they were more likely to have someone to help with chores or take them to the doctor if they needed it.

      Do notice – you don't need a god for that type of social support, after all we are pack animals and find comfort in being in a group. LOL!

      November 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  3. Bo

    @nonlo I beg to differ with you, I look at the posts on these blogs and I see most atheists unhappy, so many of them are rude, critical and selfcentered. I wonder what their home life is like, is there a lot of arguments, anger, shouting and screaming at one another etc. Do the kids have a loving respect for their parents, and the other way around? I'm sure there are some, but what about the majority? There are some Christian homes that need a reality check too.

    November 11, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • nono

      @Bo, after my initial post , I actually did some reading and I fully agree with you, you are right. Sad, but true.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Bo

      The sad truth of the matter some lives at home are miserable and others aren't Atheism plays into this insofar as either putting a person on the defensive constantly at home to defend their views to their own families. Regardless of religion though, what you ask most likely falls into a bell curve and the issues of a bad or good homelife depend more on extenuating circu.mstances and not just religious affiliation. I happen to have a great home life, a wonderful and loving family, good friends and all that. Coming from a jewish household there was a lot of shouting and yelling, but it was mostly good natured and that's part of culture, I hear its the same with italians and greeks as well.

      Don't be so quick to judge Bo.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • .......

      "so many of them are rude, critical and selfcentered."

      Pot meet kettle....kettle meet pot.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Bo Why are so many Christians such flaming hypocrites? Your very post here is rude and critical and you guys spout this nonsense all the time. You guys are simply so stupid and self-serving as to think that your criticisms of non-believers are attempts to reach out while their generally analogous criticisms of believers are attacks on those poor persecuted Christians.

      November 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  4. Tie Mie Shoe

    Lets be more pragmatic about all of this. So, lets say an Atheist had a new born. How do you want this kid to live his/her life? After seeing the innocense, helplessness, honesty, purity and the amount of love you have for the child, how do you want this kid to spend his life? Not that you can control it, but you will obviously have some aspirations for that child. Do you want him to be brought up as a gay? as an extremist? as a p0rn star (as atheists are in favor of freedom of expression)?
    I am sorry but I am just trying to understand a "good" and "perfect" life of an Atheist! Please help me.

    November 11, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Nonimus

      I don't speak for Atheists, and no one really does, but I think you misunderstand Atheism. It is not a belief system where perfection is defined, or even definable. Atheists simply lack a belief in god(s). Everything else is a chosen philosophy and I'm guessing that just about every Atheist out there has a different philosophy that they follow.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Nonimus

      I'll rephrase slightly,
      Atheism is not a belief system. Therefore perfection is not defined nor is it definable in any general sense.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Chuckles

      Any atheist can jump in here, but I think that the most imporant thing in raising a child is to instill values of what is right and wrong according to the parent and to make sure they grow up with a healthy amount of skepticism and critical thinking so when faced with dilemmas they can make good, rational decisions.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      My home is an atheisic one.
      We are raising our daughter to honour the traits of compassion, humility, charity and above all – curiosity.
      Question everything is our mantra.
      We have a huge bookshelf in the living room full of all types of literature – including a special section for religion.
      We've the KJV, the Torah, The Koran, a few B'Hai books, Buddhist, Taoist, and yes – atheist books (Hitchens, Dawkins etc).
      Our favourite is the encyclopedia of mythology that references Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Inca, Aztec and a handful of Native American religions.

      My goal as a prent is to raise a child who can form intelligent, independent opinions based on investigation of as many facts and perspectives as possible.
      One day she might tell me that she's become a Scientologist, or a Mormon, or a Baptist and I will support her so long as she can intelligently explain to herself why she is making that choice.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Doc

      I strongly suspect your daughter will shy away from relying on supersti.tion for a worldview given the tools you've provided. Falling for those things generally require indoctrination at an early age.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • captain america

      Who gives a sh it what some ass hole canadian thinks?

      November 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Captain America
      Good day to you too, Captain troll!
      Take a page from HippyPoet's book and have a nice smoke. It might mellow you out a bit.

      November 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Captain Ass Hole oops I mean America: Who gives a sh!t? You should idiot!! You are forgetting what country has sent their men and women in to back your countries a$$es in a war that is not ours to fight...you are forgetting who your closest neighbors are.

      November 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @truthprevails
      Don't take it personally.
      I think of the Captain as my personal troll.
      He likes to pop his head up from under his bridge once in a while and spew anti-canadian rhetoric.
      He thinks that the interwebs are American only and that this site is for U.S. citizens only.

      November 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Doc: The ignorance is sickening. BTW: If you ever decide to make it out to the coast, we'll be happy to put the coffee on. 🙂

      November 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Me

      It is entirely possible for a parent who does not believe God exists to still want a life for their child in which they recognize their instrinsic worth and live their lives and treat their bodies accordingly. Truly enlightened people don't need someone or something else to tell us how to live with love and dignity

      November 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      My upbringing was fairly secular. My parents taught me that I was responsible for my own actions. My day to day morals are based on my human empathy; I don't like seeing people hurt or feeling sad. I don't like to be lied to, so I don't lie. I don't want my things stolen, so I don't steal. Etc, etc.

      If I had a child I would hope to bring them up with the same values. If my child were gay, I would love and support them as I would any other child. I would probably be a little more concerned about a gay child because so many people out there, so many of them christians, use an individual's hom.os.exuality as an excuse to bully, hurt or discriminate.

      I would want my child to pursue that which he/she loves, but I would try to give them enough balance in their life that they wouldn't feel the draw to extremism. If a child of mine desired a career in por.nography, I make sure it was what he/she honestly wanted, and then I would do my best to insure that working conditions were safe.

      Once a child becomes an adult, the only say we have in their lives is what they allow. The best we can do is to teach them to think for themselves, and that their actions have consequences.

      November 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Doc, what do you expect from some gomer who is pretending to be a superhero? This person who pretends to be a defender of America seems to forget that Canada is also America. Silly jackwagon. And as far as I'm concerned the greatest Captain of all time is Canadian Stevie Yzerman.

      November 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Tie Mie Shoe And you are assuming that no gays or extremists or p-rn stars have been raised in religious households? The ignorance of believers is matched only by their arrogance.

      November 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  5. Abu Yusuf

    So atheists have issues with people following religion and an organized set of beliefs? Isn't that intolerance? I want a "smart" athiest to show me the right way to live a life, if there's such a thing an why should I?

    November 11, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • nono

      u talkin 'bout the atheist bunch? they are the most happy and optimistic people here. just look around this blog and you will see for ur'self. the proof is in their own words/sentences/paragraphs

      November 11, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Chuckles

      Nope, you missed the point and don't understand the atheist POV at all, but thats understandable given that I'm sure your holy man has told you differently.

      Follow a set of organized beliefs all you want, I take no issue with that. The issue that almost every atheist has is when you want them to also follow the same set of beliefs using an irrational premise.

      Also, since "right way to live" is more subjective than objective, I think all I will ask is that you treat other human beings with respect and tolerance.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  6. GrouchyKat

    Wow, the Athesists are out in force on this post. Are you so terrified that people who believe in God are wrong? I find it offensive that you want to push God into the corner and say I'm wrong or evil to believe in Him. I've been blessed in my life far more than I can ever explain, and you vocal minority can go jump in a lake.

    November 11, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Yet I can attest to having a full, happy and complete life as well....all without the baggage of a belief in your God. If we both live fulfilled lives then the addition of God seems unimportant and superfluous.
      Riddle me this?

      November 11, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Abu Yusuf

      Atheists think that they are actually smart, intellectual and wise people. Their fallacy of Appeal to Personal Incredulity is very clear. But no, they are stubborn and norrow mided as well for some reason. Discussion with them normally is a waste of time because they can cop out by saying " Just because "we" don't know doesnt mean that God exists".

      November 11, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Dennis Fung

      Abu, perhaps a closer look at which post you clicked Reply on, would be of help.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      HAH....you don't even understand the fallacy your refer to. If I'm ignorant of some aspect or fact I admit "not knowing"...not just plug "God did it" into the equation.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Abu Yusuf is an instance of the fallacy of the argument from ignorance, and more colloquially, the fallacy of the argument from laziness.

      http://mason.gmu.edu/~cmcgloth/portfolio/fallacies/

      November 11, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  7. hippypoet

    " A new study shows that attending religious services regularly can mean a more optimistic, less depressed, and less cynical outlook on life. "

    Because you take no responiblity for your actions, it was god's plan right? Once you think you have the power to true choice, you claim god gave you free will...but later when a massive NATURAL disaster happens – you will claim god works in mysterious ways and has a plan for us all....again! Which is it – free will, or a grand design – can't be both!!

    November 11, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  8. Robert Fisher

    HAHAHA. Study says that a people who study and follow a doctrine that teaches the world is ending, that we are evil by nature, that women should serve men, that its ok to beat children, and that believes there is a mystical evil that constantly whispers in your ear......these are the people who are more optimistic? The only result I would ever believe about those who attend church is one of segregation, predjudice, and violence.

    November 11, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  9. Jeebus

    People still believe in god?

    November 11, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Abu Yusuf

      Yes. We did not magically transform from smoke and dust into intelligent human beings over 100 zillion years (or whatever). Whats more complex – human beinjgs or a pencil sharpner? Would you be surprised if someone told you that a pencil sharpner was formed from dust and smoke over 100 zillion years? You guys are freakin nuts!

      November 11, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Abu Yusuf is an instance of the fallacy of Appeal to Personal Incredulity.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org

      November 11, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Fallacy Spotting
      Argument from Ignorance. Possibly the most common of all. Guess it's true. Ignorance is bliss.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Nonimus

      Actually, I would say it is a Weak Analogy fallacy. This is due to the fact that pencil sharpener's don't reproduce and therefore the scientific theory of evolution does not apply. The same as the tornado in junk yard argument.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      "Yes. We did not magically transform from smoke and dust into intelligent human beings over 100 zillion years (or whatever)."

      Erm...is it me or does the Bible not say that God made Adam from dust (instantly) and then Eve from his rib? Magically? That's what it says, right? God magically made man in an instant. And that explanation is more plausible to you than the Theory of Evolution?

      Whatever floats your boat, brah. One comprehensive reading of the Bible is enough to prove to me that Christianity (and Islam, and Judaism) are flat out wrong. I'm not saying there is no God – I'm just saying your religion is horse sh!t.

      November 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  10. San Ban

    A religious community can be a wonderful source of support, as long as you don't rock the boat by asking challenging questions or making decisions based upon your own reason. As someone who has lived in a small, stable, tight-knit community, one that includes extended family (cousins of several degrees), I can tell you this type of support is very valuable, but is certainly not limited to religious communities! This study did not weigh whether the social supports that come from participating in a religious community outweigh the harms of religous delusion, inellectual deceit and stunting of our most important faculties: reason and empathy, and the host of other harms that follow from religion. The study also did not look at people who were involved in other types of supportive communities and did not look at whether it was the social supports or the religious experience (however differently that is defined) that was linked to the positive outlook.

    November 11, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Colin

      Good post

      November 11, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • John Richardson

      I suspect social supports play a huge role and studies like this should be taken as challenges to non-believers to create insti-tutions of social support minus the cosmic delusions.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  11. ME

    I hear people who bury their head in the sand and refuse to acknowledge reality also are less depressed and have a more positive outlook on life. That said, it does no one any service to pretend that the world is a better place if you are not participating in making in so. Believing in faires, mythological creatures and a God may make you less depressed – does it serve your fellow man though?

    November 11, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  12. Grigg

    I personally believe that there are a lot more agnostics than Atheists. Agnostics are ok with the idea there is God, they just don't want to be involved, or bothered. Atheism is a belief system in itself, just like a religion. it is essentially another religion.
    when confronted with his own concept of creation by Ben Stein in the move expelled, even Richard Dawkins (essentially the Joel Osteen of Atheism) He concedes that something somewhere, more intelligent than mankind set things into motion, and order. Atheism's belief system includes Humanism (the belief that people are basically good) and Darwinism.
    One last note to the polytheists,
    Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life, and no one comes to the father (God) but through me.
    IF there are many ways to God, just make sure to say that Jesus Christ and Christianity are not one of the ways.
    this should be fun

    November 11, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Newt

      ...that is *not* anything that ever came out of Richard Dawkins' mouth. Cite it.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • claybigsby

      "Agnostics are ok with the idea there is God, they just don't want to be involved, or bothered."

      No agnostics believe that there could be a god, or many gods, or no god at all. The premise of agnosticism is that WE (humans) DONT KNOW AND NEVER WILL. As an agnostic, I am ok with that, and I am very skeptical of any religion claiming to be the one true religion. There is no prove it either way, but I have a very strong opinion that Christianity is not.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Colin

      Grigg, Dawkins has never said that. It would be totally inconsistent with virtually everything he has ever written. It would be like the bible suddenly saying "There is no god and intelligence and skepticism are to be valued".

      I hate it when you religious people flat lie to try and bolster your case.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • San Ban

      "I personally believe that there are a lot more agnostics than Atheists."

      Agnosticism and atheism answer two different questions, to wit:: are there gods? (I don't know.) Do you believe in gods? (No.) I am a weak agnostic because I am damn near certain there are no gods and I am a strong atheist because I don't believe in any gods at all. I don't know where you got the idea that agnostics are "not bothered" by a question of such importance! I have spent much time and effort investigating it.

      "Atheism is a belief system in itself, just like a religion. it is essentially another religion."

      Not any more than not collecting stamps is a hobby!

      "when confronted with his own concept of creation by Ben Stein in the move expelled, even Richard Dawkins"

      Er, did you mean to have a complete sentence here, or is this left to the reader to complete? OK, I'll oblige: "when confronted with [the scientific] [account of the origing of the universe] by Ben Stein in the move 'Expelled,' even Richard Dawkins ", himself not a cosmologist, acknowledged its breathtaking beauty, and that he did not understand all the details, but that it certainly was immensely more plausible than any of the theistic creation myths. There, FIFY!

      "He concedes that something somewhere, more intelligent than mankind set things into motion, and order."

      This is quite a misstatement of Dawkins' response. Maybe you didn't understand what he said. Or maybe you are deliberately attempting to deceive.

      "Atheism's belief system includes Humanism (the belief that people are basically good) and Darwinism."

      Wrong. SOME atheists are humanists (they assert prime importance to humans, not gods; concentrate human efforts upon human concerns, abilities, ethics, concerns, values and fulfillment.) SOME atheists are rationalists, accepting the scientific explanations of origins, including the origins of life on this planet and the origins of all species (which is what I know you mistakenly label "Darwinism").

      November 11, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • John Richardson

      Piled a lot of ignorance into one paragraph there! Dawkins has never ever acknowledged the existence of some super intelligent being setting things into motion. There are casually irreligious people. Indeed, they are probably the fastest growing demographic in the country today vis-a-vis "god issues". But self-designated agnostics, are not casually irreligious people who "just don't care". They stress the unknowability of certain deep questions by finite minds and are often quite deeply attuned to issues of god, religion and religiosity.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Grigg
      Atheism is a negative statement that says only what one does NOT believe.
      It does not imply any behaviours, morals, or characteristics whatsoever.

      November 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  13. Rob

    I seriously doubt how deluding one's self with a false religion like Christianity helps people avoid depression. The only way it could work is if people actually believed literally in mythology....like most Christians do. People delude themselves with lots of false beliefs every day to survive on the planet of ignorance.

    November 11, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • faithful

      interesting. and predictable that someone who doesn't believe is very cinical about believing...you just proved the point of this article.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • The Bobinator

      > interesting. and predictable that someone who doesn't believe is very cinical about believing...you just proved the point of this article.

      He's not being cynical. He's being realistic. You percieve it as cynical.

      The point here is that while believers may "feel" happier, the source of their happiness is exactly the same as a child believing that Santa brings them presents.

      For people who are intellectual adults, we do not latch onto ideas becuase they make us feel good. In so doing, we have actual happiness and peace, not manufactured or false happiness.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  14. zeus

    Just drink the cool aid.

    November 11, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • faithful

      the cool aid tastes good – and i still live...

      November 11, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  15. Arthur Fonzarelli

    Living a lie works for drug dealers, sociopaths and religious zealots alike. Let's all pretend that there's a mythical land up in the sky, overseen by an omnipotent white male with a long, flowing beard, who looks over us all. That way we won't have to address our own mortality and the hard permanence of death that follows, overtakes and eventually swallows all living things.

    There is no God and there is no heaven. People just feel better about their lives when they can dismiss the reality that we spend the majority of our lives doing things that put money in the pockets of the most Godless among us.

    "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

    November 11, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Joeg

      "Those who attended weekly were less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility"
      You should try it Fonz,,

      November 11, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • craigdangerous

      for about 10 years I went around making snarky comments like yours... thinking about how enlightened i was and so much better than those stupid church sheople... then i grew up. Give it up bro... you'll be happier if you just live and let live

      November 11, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Salvador Limones

      What was that about cynical hostility?

      November 11, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  16. TBN

    If you are going to delude yourself... I would not expect one to make ones self more depressed or more cynical.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  17. catholic engineer

    I'm interested in the fact that there are ALWAYS more women in church than men. People of an atheist bent often site "reason" for their for rejection of religion. Some of the less tolerant atheists accuse religous people pf being stupid and irrational. The implication of this goes unnoticed: that since fewer men than women go to church, men are more rational and therefore superior. Having been married to a woman for 35 years, and raised three daughters, I contend that women know something that we men don't. Maybe women simply know that "reason" is one, but not the only, component of personhood.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Chuckles

      @CE

      Um.....ok, where do I start? I guess the question of why you quote "reason" to imply that there is no reason, care to elaborate? Would you like to define reasonableness and how atheist are effectivily more unreasonable than catholics?

      second, you stated the hypothesis: Atheist think men are smarter than women
      you're proof? That atheists, both men and women, believe that anyone who follows a religion is illogical and irrational. you also state that in your very limited experience and attending a singular (or possibly up to 3-4) churches, that you notice more women than men in churches.

      Lets dig a little deeper shall we? First, I didn't realize church attendance was the indicator of true faith? Here I thought that if you said you were faithful and prayed that it doesn't really matter if you go to church or not. Second, have you just noticed this trend of more women than men in church in passing or taking notes? If you've been taking notes I'd love to see them, I would also require at least a sample of around 500 churches with their numbers recorded, lets say over the course of a months worth of services, you know, to really get an idea of attendence by gender.

      November 11, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • catholic engineer

      @CHUCKLES Please read my post again. Your response said "second, you stated the hypothesis: Atheist think men are smarter than women." I did not say this at all. I said that SOME atheists think that churchgoers are stupid people. I tried to point out what SOME atheists may have missed, in their preference for "reason", that reason may not be the whole show, and what this atheist oversite may imply. My statement that more women than men go to church is not based on note-taking. It was based on an unavoidable observation. I tried to state my case as clearly and sanely as possible. Apparently, I wasn't careful enough.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Chuckles

      @CE

      You said, "The implication of this goes unnoticed: that since fewer men than women go to church, men are more rational and therefore superior." – this is your hypothesis, this is a finding, or and inference you have pulled from "unavoidable observance" that I took issue with and pointed out in my previous post why this implication goes unnoticed, because it's nonexistant.
      If you want to reorganize your conclusions you've reached with your observances to say that you believe atheists think stupid people attend church but you believe that the reasoning that atheists use isn't correct, then go ahead. As of now, you're using seemingly mutually exclusive obvservations in order to prove a point by throwing red herrings all over the place.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • The Bobinator

      @catholic retard, sorry I mean engineer.

      > I'm interested in the fact that there are ALWAYS more women in church than men.

      No there isn't. Broad based rules like this are stupid.

      > People of an atheist bent often site "reason" for their for rejection of religion.

      Yes, because it is in fact silly to have faith as a standard of evidence. Because if faith is your standard, you cannot tell the difference between christianity, islam, buddism or even hinduism.

      > Some of the less tolerant atheists accuse religous people pf being stupid and irrational.

      They are being irrational.

      > The implication of this goes unnoticed: that since fewer men than women go to church, men are more rational and therefore superior.

      Except that you exclude all other possibilities. Women are also more social. What if they go to church not believing simply for the social benefits.

      > Having been married to a woman for 35 years, and raised three daughters, I contend that women know something that we men don't.

      So, you think that your experiences with your wife, who is one woman, is sufficient to make a rule about all women? That's moronic sir. I can't believe you even said that.

      > Maybe women simply know that "reason" is one, but not the only, component of personhood.

      Maybe women are going there for a different reason that you don't comprehend. Such as the social benefits as I said above. Perhaps you could take a more intelligent viewpoint of the discussion if you didn't try to simplify an event to a single cause.

      I mean, come on man. This is basic level thinking here. If you are an engineer, you should be logical and reasonable. Hence my play on your name above.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Agnotheist

      @The Boob,
      "Retard" has a specific definition. Where is your evidence that @Catholic Engineer is a retard?

      November 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > @The Boob, "Retard" has a specific definition. Where is your evidence that @Catholic Engineer is a retard?

      Actually, there are quite a few definitions. Perhaps you should us http://www.dictionary.com.

      November 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  18. ty0p

    Study find out the obvious again- living a lie is always more comforting than reality.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • faithful

      depends on what your "reality" is. those who believe have a very nice and happy reality.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • warmesTghosT

      "those who believe have a very nice and happy reality."

      No, you have a hateful ignorant death cult of like-minded sheep. Tell ya' what, if you need the promise of eternal reward and the threat of eternal torment to be a decent human being, fine. But I don't. I know right from wrong, good from evil, and kindness from cruelty, and I've never believed in god for one instant of one day of my life.

      Hell, I don't even care what you believe – as long as you keep it out of my face. But American Christians just can't. They can't keep it in church. They have to try to ban abortions, and keep the gays subjugated, and demonize the atheists, and on and on and on and the utter stupidity of it just boggles my mind.

      Atheists would have zero problem with Christians (or Muslims or Jews) if you'd just keep your ridiculous fairy tales out of our governments. Until that day arrives, however, I will mock you relentlessly for being an adult human who believes in magic. That's the difference between you and I. We both may be kind hearted, generous, caring individuals. You believe in magic. I don't.

      November 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  19. Josh

    This is no surprise – ignorance is bliss.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  20. tenagra

    Unless you were abused by a priest, or slaughtered in a crusade, or tossed from your homeland, or swindled in a religion-based scam. Religion is self delusion, of course it works. Most people can't leave it there, they have to start forcing their delusions on others, at gunpoint if necessary. Religion is also a profound source of suffering in this world.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Darmok

      Shaka ...when the walls fell.

      November 11, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Brian in NY

      Tenagra, you are so right !
      If adults still believed in Santa Claus, then December would be more exciting (in a positive way). So indeed it is self-delusion.
      Unfortunately, many people just cannot accept the reality that life is a wonderful thing, bringing lots of joy, without such delusion.

      If we allowed these "born again" people to have their way, they would make the USA just like Iran .. "god is great," and all that horrible imprisonment of the mind.

      Thanks for your insight.

      November 11, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Darmok

      Sokath...his eyes open.

      November 11, 2011 at 9:47 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.