Survey: Very religious rate higher on “well being” scale
February 17th, 2012
05:59 AM ET

Survey: Very religious rate higher on “well being” scale

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Very religious people rate higher – compared to the moderately religious and nonreligious – on a Gallup “well being” survey released Thursday.

According to the survey, very religious people from all religious groups surveyed higher than their nonreligious brethren. Very religious Jews scored highest on the survey with a score of 72.4. Very religious Mormons finished a close second with 71.5.

By comparison, moderately and non religious Jews scored in the 68 percentile, while moderately and non religious Mormons scored in the 63 percentile.

Gallup defines well being based on a number of emotional and physical health indexes in their Well-Being Index.

“The findings confirm that the strong positive relationship between religiosity and wellbeing that Gallup previously demonstrated holds regardless of faith,” stated a release by researchers Frank Newport, Dan Witters and Sangeeta Agrawal.

Though the difference from the top was only about 7 points, those who identified as not religious, atheist or agnostic finished at the bottom of the scale with 65.8 points.

“The relationship appears to be largely independent of the proportions of very religious, moderately religious, and nonreligious in each religious group, and it is more closely aligned with the faith itself,” the release stated.

An example: while Muslims have a lower level of well being than Jews, the gap between the most and least religious constituencies is roughly the same.

The results of the survey also show that Mormons are by far the most religious group surveyed.

Seventy-three percent of Mormons identified as very religious, compared to 50 percent of Protestants, 46 percent of Muslims and 43 percent of Roman Catholics.

In comparison, people from other non-Christian religions and Jews were predominantly nonreligious with 43.7 and 53.5 percent respectively identifying as such.

The survey was compiled from 676,000 interviews and has an error range of plus or minus less than one percent. These interviews were conducted from January 2010 to December 2011.

The data is part of a multipart Gallup series on “religiosity and wellbeing in America.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Judaism • Mormonism • Polls • Protestant

soundoff (687 Responses)
  1. kevin

    Being religious is a mental health problem, so what does that say about well-being?

    February 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  2. alivenchrist

    The fool says in his heart there is no God. For every knee will bow and tounge confess. P.S. even those of the fool.

    February 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Back before science could provide a defensible alternative you'd really have looked like a fool trying to argue against God having to exist. Today, it's a completely different situation.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • William Demuth

      If I were to bow to Christ, it would be so I could geld him with a carpet knife.

      That Palestinian turd screwed up my planet.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  3. Patrick

    Ignorance is bliss.

    February 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Yep and when the Belief Blog editors post an article declaring the opposite or that Atheist are healthier or happier then the Faithful will say the same thing.

      Good grief, we all are puppets here.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Mark from Middle River
      At least the atheists won't whine like little girls about why believers bother to comment on stories about non-belief, eh Mark? 😉

      February 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • God of Death

      Butt hurt christians will always make the same lame comments. Here's looking at you christians..

      February 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Mark from Middle River

      At least some of us are well paid puppets.

      In about 56 minutes I will no longer care!

      February 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>At least the atheists won't whine like little girls about why believers bother to comment on stories about non-belief, eh Mark?...

      You got to be kidding, in my year or so on the Belief Blog whining as such from both Atheist and Faithful makes this place look like a huge slumber party the day after it was report that Justin Bieber just lost his voice. 🙂

      >>>”At least some of us are well paid puppets”
      Day off here William, but I do hear yah dude. 😀 Seriously, though William, you have been here for a while, how often do the Belief Blog editors do this. They post this study and one side erupts and one side cheers. They then post another that says different and the cheering the wailing switches. This is puppet 101, and I am not saying I am any better but good grief, can anyone take this article seriously knowing that another one saying differently will probably be posted next month?

      February 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Mark from Middle River
      Which atheists question why believers are on this board the way some believers question our presence here?

      February 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”Which atheists question why believers are on this board the way some believers question our presence here?”

      ...and I said that where? I will stand behind my statement that both sides have their fair share of whiners though, but I am interested where you got the statement that Atheist question why the Faithful are here.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Mark from Middle River
      I never said that you did, but you implied that believers and non-believers rant equally, so I was providing one area where we do not.

      February 18, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Mark from Middle River
      I said "At least the atheists won't whine like little girls about why believers bother to comment on stories about non-belief, eh Mark?"

      To which you replied "You got to be kidding, in my year or so on the Belief Blog whining as such from both Atheist and Faithful makes this place look like a huge slumber party the day after it was report that Justin Bieber just lost his voice."

      " whining as such from both Atheist and Faithful " implies that both sides question why the other is here, yes? So, I asked you which atheists did you witness challenging the rights of believers to be on this board as they do us? See?

      February 18, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "Implies"? In the Faith circles we hear that term over and over. Someone reads the Holy text and what they feel or believe the text says to them must be the meaning.

      >>>" whining as such from both Atheist and Faithful " implies that both sides question why the other is here, yes?”

      No Friend, it does not imply such. If anything the common Atheist cut and paste of “I am surprised that there are still people who are of Faith”, comments that appear with many articles, go beyond not only the why the Faithful are posting here to why do the Faithful even exist to comment.

      February 18, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Mark from Middle River
      I, for one, do not wonder why there are still people of faith. It does surprise me that there are still people who hold the Bible as being without contradiction, who deny evolution, or who believe that only Christians can be moral people. That doesn't cover all people of faith, only the very elitist ones.

      Faith will not die out anytime soon, so the practical person in me only hopes to carve out some understanding between us all, including our grounds for being highly skeptical of supernatural claims. If folks don't want to hear criticism of such views then they are free to make their comments in Christians-only blogs where they quickly ban anyone who questions standard dogma.

      February 18, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Faith will not die out anytime soon, so the practical person in me only hopes to carve out some understanding between us all, including our grounds for being highly skeptical of supernatural claims."

      To live in the middle and seeking co-existence. It just means that we are getting shot in the chest by the extremes on one side and the back of our skulls caved in from the other.


      February 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  4. Happiness Quotient

    Happiness is to know the Saviour,
    Living a life within His favour,
    Having a change in my behaviour,
    Happiness is the Lord.

    Happiness is a new creation,
    Jesus and me in close relation,
    Having a part in His salvation,
    Happiness is the Lord.

    Real joy is mine,
    No matter if the teardrops start,
    I've found a secret,
    It's Jesus in my heart.

    Happiness is to be forgiven,
    Living a life that's worth the livin',
    Taking a try that leads to Heaven,
    Happiness is the Lord.

    February 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • William Demuth

      The articke says the guys who DON'T worship Jeebus score better!

      Whats up with dat?

      February 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  5. David Johnson

    Happiness, is a church that is being converted into a McDonalds!


    February 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      I'd be happier if they converted the Church into something less unhealthy, commercial, and addictive, not something equally so.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • BRC

      Imagine if churches starting serving McDonalds fries, their numbers would skyrocket.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • craig

      David, Knowing that God is in control of my life allows me and my brethren to live a life of peace, despite what is going on in the world. I wish you the best.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  6. WachetAuf

    Ignorance is bliss. Some psychological studies indicate that many people who are faced with difficult issues choose to remain ignorant about the facts and principles involved. It is much to stressful for them to become involved. They leave the resolution of those issues to their leaders. That is the theme of religion: God will take care of it. The authors of the Bible describe this perfectly. There are the sheppards and the sheep. There are few sheppards and many, many, many sheep. Sheep, from what I remember reading, are short sighted. They keep their heads buried in the grass. They do not need to see at a great distance. They rely on the sheppards and the sheep dogs to keep them safe. Dangerous for the present day human sheep is the fact that there are too many Jim Joneses in the world, in religion and politics. If they do not learn to think for themselves, and thereby incur some stress, they will be feed for the wolves.

    February 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  7. Derek

    Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

    February 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Russ

      Forgot I had a trailer hitch on my vehicle once. Walked by while looking the other way. Hit my shin on it.

      Ignorance is not bliss – especially when you hit your shin on what you're ignoring.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • sam

      I heard Russ hit his shin on a church, once.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  8. Cindy

    Amazing, so many people here who spew hate because others are happy

    February 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      So, if an alcoholic claimed to be happy you wouldn't bother to challenge that belief?

      February 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh yeah: that's caring enough to speak the truth to someone. I respect that.

      Do you welcome that from the other side? People who disagree with you but care enough to talk to you about it?

      February 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Sure! People are free to share their beliefs with me, but at least I draw the line at actually going door-to-door, or to alluding to the torture of those who choose not to see things the way I do.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Russ, there have been on occasion Atheist who declare beyond torture to those of Faith. \

      Can you accept that there are those of Faith who are, just like you, and do not advocate torture for those who do not believe or view subjects the as they do? Or are all Atheist wanting to burn churches down and kill Faithful and all Faithful wanting to kill all Atheist?

      February 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • God of Death

      What's wrong about death? It's so natural. You should try it Mark .. tell us about heaven afterwards if you can.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

      Nothing is wrong with Death but why are you desiring me to try it? Pretty mean to wish Death upon anyone.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Mark from Middle River
      I'll agree that few of the Faithful actually want to kill us, but a whole lot sure do seem to fantasize about God torturing us for not accepting what THEY have to say, right? Big egos get bruised easily, it seems.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  9. DS

    "Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is the best of all to be sane and happy. Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future." ~Arthur C Clarke~

    February 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  10. 1 Common Sense 1:1-1

    God is just pretend.

    February 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  11. Oh Yeah

    For really happy people they sure do seem to be very upset by a lot of things, like gay marriage, abortion, dancing, non-believers, people of other faiths, evolution, stem cells, the Big Bang theory, the delay in the end of the world, criticism, Democrats, the media, Harry Potter, empowered women, ...

    February 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Sometimes, happiness is being surrounded by people who hate the same things as you.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Pretending fairy tales are real is not healthy for children and other living things

      Good point

      February 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Doc Vestibule
      I think that's "Misery loves company", but I see your point.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Pretending: from a real expert on fairy tales...
      JRR Tolkien: "Christianity is not just one more myth that points to the underlying truth. It is the Truth to which all the myths point."

      February 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      "Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies." – Thomas Jefferson

      February 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah: so what do you make of Jefferson's "American dream"?
      "we hold these truths to be self-evident..."
      "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..."

      what truths? what Creator?

      February 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      "what truths? what Creator"
      I think you are forgetting that Jefferson only really wrote the first draft of the Declaration, and that the final version was product of the committee's editing.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah: so you don't think Jefferson agreed with those statements as a Deist?

      February 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      I think Jefferson was a politician living at a time when openly questioning the existence of God might get you actually killed. Hell, openly questioning a man's integrity back then was grounds for fighting a duel possibly to the death. Besides, science could still not provide a defensible alternative to a Creator god. Darwin wouldn't be born yet for another 42 years, and Franklin couldn't even conceive of objects dropping to Earth from space. Like the Bible says, you'd look like a real fool back then trying to argue against God having to exist. If Jefferson were around today, however, he'd likely be as much an atheist as Dawkins.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Interesting...Gay marriage. Well there are Gay churches and there are regular churches with Gay Clergy …

      Dancing, come on time to take that Footloose beta videotape back to the store 🙂

      People of other faiths, I will remember that at the April interfaith meeting in our area of the county... The Muslim and Jewish folks will get a kick out of that.

      Democrats..... Didn't the Belief Blog do a bunch of articles on Obama at the annual Prayer Breakfast? Are you one of those that doubt that the President is really a Christian?

      Critism …. Yeah, like many Atheist are the most kind and rational when criticized or challenged. Some them are on a Secular Jihad but can't admit to the terminology.

      Media …. FoxNews, and tons of other news sources. Are of those, unless the news says and validates my beliefs than it is not really news folks? Goodness, that would make you as bad as many of them on the FoxNews site 🙂

      Harry Potter,...

      “ROME, Italy  (CNA/EWTN News) – The Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano has entered the moral discussion surrounding the controversial message of the Harry Potter films. The newspaper has offered a positive review of the saga's last installment, which will open worldwide this weekend.”

      Wow, and that is not even stepping into the reports that John Paul approved of the Harry Potter series.

      empowered women,.... And still there are women ministers, bishops, pastors.

      It appears that you have an axe to grind with different aspects of different aspects of particular sects or denominations of Faith. Such as the gay statement. How can you say that the Faithful hate Gays and Lesbians when we have openly Gays and Lesbians who are actual clergy in their churches? A bit before that, the Faithful have issues with Democrats when the President is a Baptist and the Vice President is a Catholic ...and both are Democrats. Your generalizations are amusing.

      Might it be that just like all aspects of society, that folks are pretty well not uniform in many things?

      February 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah: I think that misses a core difficulty in atheism: morality.

      Jefferson appeals to an objective moral absolute. Once one jettisons the Objective, there is no objective basis for morality – eliminating the foundational claims made in the Declaration of Independence (inalienable rights become subjective, justice is a function of culture rather than unchanging reality, etc.).

      February 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Mark from Middle River
      Nice try, but we all know that there are plenty of religious folks out there who do, in fact, crusade against these things very strongly.

      When it comes to criticism, spending time discussing the actual likelihood of religious supernatural beliefs being true in this age is like having to spend time arguing about the likelihood of fairies being in the garden. “Ridicule" as Jefferson put it "is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions." Much of the argument for God being real is an "unintelligible proposition" so, with reason being ignored, many skeptics fall to trying ridicule. See?

      February 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”Nice try, but we all know that there are plenty of religious folks out there who do, in fact, crusade against these things very strongly”

      Yep, but there are also plenty of racist White Americans but with African Americans only in the teens of percentage of the total population but, by vote count there were more White American votes for Obama. Just think about it, are you defining an entire group by segment of the total population? I mean, I see folks like the klan but I do not discount all of my White friends because of the others.

      Isn't the Atheist side supposed to deal with “reason”. In that case, all I needed was one Lesbian, who had an abortion, liked to dance, and Democrat, curled up at night watching Aljazerra for her news, while reading the last Harry Potter book ...and some day envisioned when she finishes her Baptist seminary time and becomes a minister.

      All I need is one, and your initial post is respectfully blown out of the water.

      Thomas Jefferson, what was his slave/mistress/half sister in law's name, Sally Hemming? Interesting, that the same guy you want to hold up as a example, couldn't even be faithful to his wife and at the same time could not write a doc'ument that would “free” his slave mistress and her people.

      Wonder how "ridicule" would have worked on such a person as Jefferson.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Mark from Middle River
      The article is ent.itled "Survey: Very religious rate higher on “well being” scale" so I as.sumed that we were all talking in generalities here. I was merely stating that amongst the "very religious" there certainly is evidence of a whole lot of angst concerning the topics I mentioned. If there wasn't, and all was bliss, then so many of these folks wouldn't be out protesting against so much, would they? Certainly they appear to be a whole lot more angry than moderate believers who appear to be content to let others just be.

      I'm not holding up Jefferson as a moral example, but as a Founding Father he does reflect some of the skepticism that was evident within men of his circle, some of whom also signed the Declaration and helped "found" this country. No one could accuse him of ever having wanted to create America as a "Christian state", right?

      February 18, 2012 at 12:50 am |
  12. hippypoet

    believers can go fuck themselfs

    February 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • hippypoet

      you know its been said that i have the most copies name on these boards... i thank you for your taste in good names, but really, its impossible for anyone to fu.ck themselves... too bad thou huh! lol

      you need to be more creative or just shut up. your choice, always has been...and thats the sad part.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Hippy, is not that stupid

      February 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Ironicus

      You must have really plssed off this piece of shlt troll, hippypoet.
      Just remember this is a little kid stealing your name and acting like a baby. Ignore it if you can.
      I don't bother coming here much because of this butthurt kid stealing names and making all religious idiots look even worse.
      Hateful Christians are a dime a billion. They are everywhere. I don't need to be here that bad.
      When we can see the end of them I will be very glad. CNN's Belief Blog editors don't give a crap, I guess.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • God of Death

      Butt hurt christians are the best kind of christians imo. It's so hilarious to watch how they get so offended and how quickly, when someone challenges them, and then destroy them.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I tried to fukk myself but I just got a cramp and fell out of bed.
      Think I need to do more stretching exercises!

      February 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I have heard rumors that some men who practice yoga are able to pleasure themselves orally. Strange and not entirely wholesome, but I have heard that this can happen.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  13. Matthew 7:6

    To all Christians on this board: read 1John 2:4, then read Matthew 7:6 and ask yourself, “What am I doing here?”

    February 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Mt.7:6 – keep reading. Mt.28:19-20 & 1 Jn.2:9 – ample reason to be here. Esp.1 Cor.9:19-23.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Perhaps Jesus should have asked himself what practical purpose pearls actually have? They're pretty, like thoughts of heaven, but when it comes right down to it they're simply not something people "need", are they?

      February 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah: most of the analogies Jesus used in describing himself were to things we absolutely need in order to live: light, bread, water, rest, etc.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Making a claim that something is the next best thing to sliced bread isn't the same thing as it actually being so, wouldn't you say?

      February 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah: you're right. But Jesus wasn't claiming to be the *next* best thing...

      "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Mt.4:4)

      Jesus said: "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (Jn.6:35)

      February 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      And with a name like Smuckers... does it have to be good? What's the real difference between your quotes and any other advertising slogan, or claim?

      February 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah: no other founder of a major religion made such claims. Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, etc. all claimed to point *to* the way. Only Jesus claimed to *be* the Way.

      There have been many others to make such claims (Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc.), but such groups never gained any ground. It's too preposterous a claim. That's one of the primary, historical difficulties: why did Christianity even get off the ground? No one else in history has made such a claim & been taken seriously – which makes us ask the question: why was Jesus taken serious?

      Christians believe: he rose from the dead. Historical fact – not a legend. Many eyewitnesses. Many of whom were still alive as Paul makes that very claim within 30 years of Jesus' death. No other reason for people to believe such 'nonsense.' Who would -unless there was evidence & eyewitnesses?

      February 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      What are you saying, that no other man claimed to be the son of a god? Well, there were many supposed demigods in the ancient world. Even Jospehus speaks of Hercules as though he were a historical figure, something that the folks who like to refer to him regarding Jesus conveniently seem to be ignorant of.

      Even if he were actually the first to make such a claim, so what? It's still just a claim, and not even one that makes any rational sense.

      Why did Christianity even get off the ground? Why did Islam get off the ground, or Mormonism, or Scientology? All kinds of people back then were looking for something different to believe in than the tired old state gods. There were dozens of similar cults. Christianity seems to have offered a surrogate family of sorts to urban folk which may account for much of it's rise in popularity. Fair enough, but this still isn't proof that it's claims of Jesus being divine are actually factually true.

      Christians believe that it's a historical fact that he rose from the dead. This isn't the same as it actually being a historical fact.
      Writing about the supposed testimony of eyewitnesses many decades after the fact doesn't count for much either. Take the nativity stories for example. By the time they were written Mary, the only likely witness alive to have experienced these things would have had to have been extremely elderly. Tell me, are the memories of the very elderly always reliable?

      No other reason for people to believe such 'nonsense' you say? There are people who believe that Elvis is still alive, that UFO aliens have implanted chips in their brains, that their horoscope is an accurate predictor of what's to happen to them, and so on.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah: I think you missed my central point.

      No one else has made such claims & gotten any wide audience to follow him. History is littered with people who claimed to be god, but found no lasting audience. Only Jesus Christ has made such a claim & actually gotten wide appeal.

      What makes his claim uniquely stick when so many others have made similar claims but are soon cast aside?

      February 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      I don't know. Like I said, maybe it was the equality, or the inclusion of women, or the family-like organization of it? Maybe it was the fact that it was the Jewish god made open to all, and the standardized beliefs from area to area? No question it was a unique religion in structure, but that still doesn't make it's supernatural claims actually true, does it?

      February 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah: the inclusion of the outsider & the radical feminism of Jesus are wonderful facets of his preaching, but it's hard to pit those against the threat of death within the Roman Empire for standing as a Christian.

      Passages like Luke 1:1-4, 1 Cor.15:1-3, John 20:30, 1 John 1:1-3, Acts 4:20, etc. – all seem to point to one central theme. Christians are Christians not because their faith brings good moral advice or societal innovations, but because it is *news* – Good News. News of a singular event that changed the trajectory of history: God came in the flesh. They saw him. They encountered him. These were events they saw – not myths dreamed up 100s of years later. These are eyewitness accounts.

      February 18, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Commenter

      Russ, "These are eyewitness accounts."

      Are they? For the alleged most earth-shaking occurrence since the beginning of time, we have very poor doc-umenation.

      That Christianity spread is due in great part to the bombast and excellent PR skills, with a personal touch (community-wise) of Paul of Tarsus and to the edict of Constantine. Also, sometimes the reason that an idea goes viral it is just not entirely dissectible.

      February 18, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      The communities came before the writing of New Testament books so I don't see where you can claim that the contents of those books brought people into coming together as Christian communities. In all likelihood Jesus, had he actually existed, was just a rather liberal-minded rabbi. It was Paul who created a new faith in making the Jewish God accessible to Gentiles without their having to follow Jewish Law. Good News for them, perhaps. It was the Gentiles who believed in Hades, the underworld, so a promise to free people from it would have appealed to them, right?

      By the way, most of the great "heros" of the ancient world were divine half-breeds like Jesus was supposed to be, and the gospels do portray him as a kind of hero, bringing salvation through willingness to sacrifice himself, right? Martyrdom? Lots of religious fanatics will gladly give up their lives, or don't you keep up with the news coming out of the Middle East? Eyewitness accounts? Have you ever seen the Dateline specials about how unreliable eyewitnesses can be?

      February 18, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Russ

      @ Commenter: that is a very shallow assessment. Remember, Constantine was 300 years later. By the time Constantine came to power, Christians had become virtually 40% of all the urban populations of the Roman Empire – while being persecuted.

      How did that come to pass? Not a PR campaign. 2 sets of major plagues came through over two centuries. Roman citizens kicked their own family members out of the house for fear of contagion. Where would they go? Christians were the only major group taking care – not just of their own – but even of non-believers. Many Christians died nursing the contagious back to health. Where did they get that idea, to die for people who didn't even know them? It's what Christ had done for them. And for those who survived – well, of course they became Christians.

      Early Christianity did not spread through the sword (unlike Islam) or even primarily through good marketing – it spread because Christians loved like no one else in Hellenized culture. That is something that unfortunately American Christians have largely forgotten.

      Rodney Stark has a great book on this: "The Rise of Christianity: how the obscure, marginal Jesus movement became the dominant religious force in a few centuries."

      February 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Commenter: also, the Bible is the most scrutinized book in history. To say we don't have good doc'umentation is a failure to understand scholarship.

      Beowulf (a 5th c writing) has roughly 12 extant copies and is widely regarded as an accurate text.
      The New Testament has 10,000s of manuscripts, papyri, uncials, etc. from much nearer to the source and with much more attested accuracy.

      To say the Bible has poor doc'umentation is to say ALL of ancient scholarship has poor doc'umentation. There's no more copied book in history – and therefore no more doc'umented writing.

      February 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah: "if Jesus existed, he was a liberal minded rabbi." that is a re-narration of events, along the lines of the Jesus Seminar (which is frequently, rightly criticized as merely self-projecting Jesus). The claims Jesus made to be God (which are inextricably woven into all his ethical teaching) make it impossible to coherently remove them. And the response of the religious leaders make it clear they understood exactly what he was claiming: they thought he deserved to die for blasphemy.

      The oral testimony of the eyewitnesses was not written down until they began to realize they were going to die before Jesus returned. That's why there is a generation gap. But the nearness of those 30-50 years from Jesus death still is too close for these to be myths (which generally arise 100s of years later, with no connection to actual events, and which do not bear such realistic detail not found in fiction for another 1700 years).

      CS Lewis has a great essay on this: "Fern Seeds & Elephants." Christianity does not even begin to spread unless these things actually occurred.

      February 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Bizarre


      Myths don't begin for 100s of years? You must not be on some of the chain email lists that I somehow have been 'blessed' with! I get them all the time. Snopes.com is full of them.

      Contemporary famous figures are all too often portrayed with incredible things. Just off the top of my head, here's one:

      I do not have time right now to search for others, but just think about: John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Elvis Presley, and a host of others... even like some in this article:

      February 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bizarre: actually, you're proving my point. Snopes.com is an example of why *lasting* myths don't actually start until years later. Evidence to the contrary debunks them. Again, Christianity would not have gotten off the ground unless the eyewitnesses corroborated these accounts b/c the ancient version of snopes (correspondence & travel) would have debunked it.

      In particular, compare the criteria for the legend of Arthur or other such myths. They arose 100s of years after any such actual character might have lived, separated from the facts of the incidents. The Gospels arose within a lifetime of those who walked with Jesus.

      Again, CS Lewis' essay "Fern Seeds & Elephants" is greatly beneficial here (since he was an expert on myths – especially ancient ones).

      February 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Bizarre


      I'm guessing that you don't put any credence into Joseph Smith's teachings. Why not?... 'divine' revelation, witnesses, followers by the millions, even with much more sophisticated communications and travel than in the first century A.D. - and it has been only about 150 years on the vine thus far.

      February 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bizarre: again, you're helping my point.

      There is ZERO archeological evidence for any of the Mormon claims about historical events in the Americas. That is absolutely not the case for the Old & New Testament. A few examples of times archeologists thought the Bible was mistaken & later proven true: the Hitt'ites, the pool of Bethesda, the Dead Sea scrolls (accuracy of copyists), etc.

      In regard to the Mormon texts, I welcome correction from a Mormon scholar, but access to the original manuscripts is severely restricted. One can only infer why... whereas access to all the best & most antiquated doc'uments in biblical scholarship is welcomed. You can see the Dead Sea scrolls online, for example.

      The Bible is the most heavily scrutinized book in history. And yet continues to be the most read. That alone is not proof, but it certainly distinguishes it from the Book of Mormon (or other such LDS writings).

      February 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bizarre


      I think that you missed my point. I was responding to your contention that the myth could have not spread if it were not true. My point was that millions of people believe it, follow it, and spread it vigorously, regardless of any evidence of facts.

      February 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bizarre: no, my point was that it's not a myth. We're dealing with equivocation.

      You say 'myth' and equate it with urban legends, which are being disproved in an ongoing way (proven historically unreliable). But ancient myths arise exactly because they cannot be verified – hundreds of years after the fact, with details virtually entirely separate from any actual events. The Gospels cannot fit that category.

      And calling them myth by the modern definition of urban legend is anachronistic (and equivocation). No such genre existed. Adding detail as rhetorical flourish did not arise until 1700 years later in literature. The only type of literature that included such detail in the ancient world was reportage of facts.

      Point being: You can say the Gospel writers were lying, but you can't call it a myth by literary definitions.

      Which gets us to the actual debate. Because once we admit that these folks believed what they were sharing to be reportage, now we're dealing with the actual account rather than this out of hand dismissal as a means to dodge who Jesus claimed to be.

      February 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Bizarre


      When I said "millions of people believe it, follow it, and spread it vigorously, regardless of any evidence of facts.", I was talking about Mormonism, not urban legends. Mormonism is only around 150 years old, and look how it has spread. What will it be like in another 1800 years?

      The writings which eventually became the Bible were not open to public inspection way back when either, and who knows if there were invalidating arguments put forth in those ancient days that were not preserved. Besides, how would naysayers prove their claims of things like, "Well, I was at a gathering with a preacher named Jesus and we were never magically fed." or, "We lived in Jerusalem during those years and we never saw anyone ascending into heaven." Many inhabitants of the area probably didn't even hear about the miracle claims until they were quite elderly, if at all.

      February 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bizarre:
      1) the claims Mormons are making about Moroni & North America are 2000 year old claims.

      2) To think that his hearers were any less skeptical than we are today is ethnocentric & historically inaccurate.

      In 1 Cor.15:1-3, Paul says the resurrected Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once. That's a huge event that could be corroborated. Paul is writing within roughly 20 years of Jesus' death. Certainly many of those 500 were still alive. Travel & correspondence within the Hellenized world would have ensured that such claims were verified – and if disproven, certainly a people under persecution for such beliefs would have gladly abandoned them once found false.

      February 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Jesus called a rabbi in the gospels, and he supposedly stood against the ultra-conservative Pharisees which puts him in the more liberal camp, yes? Sure they thought he deserved to die for blasphemy, had he made such a claim, but it was the Romans who executed him for being a trouble-maker. The earliest written gospels don't have Jesus making actual claims to being God's son, but John, the last one written does. The evolution of this idea can be clearly seen.

      Myths, or rather exaggerated tales, were told of Davy Crockett and Elvis while they were still alive, so you greatly underestimate the ability of admirers to puff up their idol's greatness. At that time, with life expectancy being much lower than it is today, how many would have been around to act as actual eye-witnesses? 70 to 80 year olds, reporting on things that happened 50 to 70 years earlier (except for John, which very likely was written too late to have benefitted from eyewitness testimony)? Lots of eyewitnesses are discounted on what they saw a year ago in courts today, so this argument holds no water for me.

      If religions only spread where truth is evident then the stories of the pagan religions must also be true, the feats of the Buddha must also be true, and the claims of Muhammad, Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard must also be as true. They all atarted successful, spreading religions too, so I can't see how you can make it that Jesus was somehow special.

      February 19, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Russ

      @ Oh Yeah:

      1) Gospel of John: dating John late does not account for his unique knowledge of Jerusalem. For example, the pool of Bethesda, which was destroyed in AD 70, is clearly & accurately described in Jn.5. For years, critical scholars cited it as evidence that John had no real knowledge of Jerusalem. Then, guess what they found in the 19th century, right where John said it was & exactly as he described it? Clearly, he had actual knowledge of Jerusalem prior to AD 70 – making many scholars reconsider late dates.

      Also, you are forgetting Paul, who died by AD 64. He wrote 1 Corinthians by AD 57 at the latest (which clearly speaks of Jesus' divinity), and the Philippian hymn (a pre-existing hymn of Christian theological belief that Paul quotes in Php.2:6-10) also directly states it. The letter to the Philippians was obviously written before Paul died in AD 64.

      And even in Synoptic Gospels, which are honest about the disciples lack of self-awareness, the demons readily confess Jesus is the Son of God – with Jesus chastising them to keep his messianic secret (because he knows it will lead to his death). Also, though, Jesus repeatedly forgives sins – even of things that do not appear to be 'against him.' As the religious leaders note: "only God can forgive sins." Jesus clearly believes himself to be God.

      2) which brings up the second issue: Jesus uniquely claimed to be God. As I said before, no other religious founder claimed such an exclusive thing. They all claimed to point *to* the way (here's the rules/ethics/modalities to follow to get to heaven/nirvana/etc). Jesus alone claimed to *be* the Way – in an historical event of acting on our part.

      In short, other religions bring a system of ethics/rules, that amount to advice to get God's approval.
      Jesus brings news of our rescue. News, not advice. News that God has already acted in our favor, not waiting for us to earn approval.

      As such, other religious "myths" (your term, not mine) are not material to the code of ethics. For Jesus, the event is the faith, not just background to ethics.

      3) yes! Jesus did not fit any political category we know. He has hard things to say to both Republicans & Democrats, the Religious Right & Liberals. He is so theologically conservative that he constantly quotes the Scriptures & even argues truth based on a single word from a psalm. But he is so socially progressive that the most liberal people run to him. It is a serious indictment on churches today that the outsiders flocked to Jesus to experience his love but don't find the same reception in the average church.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  14. PaulE Louisville

    Is it because they're truly happier or is it because we non-believers are less happy having to deal with these delusional people. Seriously – prisons are full of the righteous. Somehow I'm guessing the religiously oppressed were also not interviewed. Additionally, some of the most evil people the world has known have been "very religious". So, yeah, this study means pretty much nothing.

    February 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  15. warmesTghosT

    Is it me or is that picture at the head of the article just terrifying?

    That photo is the essence of ignorance, narcissism and wishful thinking personified.

    God save me from Your followers.

    February 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Cindy

      Um, it's JUST you, because you are exactly showing, essence of ignorance, narcissism and wishful thinking personified

      February 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Well thought out, justified and reasonable response, thanks Cindy! Hope you didn't strain anything using any of them there big words!

      February 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • sam

      Cindy, did that hit a nerve? Hang around, we'll hit them all.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      The photo reminds me of the scene in Independence Day of the people on the building roof waiting for the aliens to pick them up ... just before the UFO blasts them! 🙂

      February 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Bizarre

      There is an actual physical response generated when you open up your arms like that... and leave your vitals unprotected. The release of endorphins and the resultant high is pleasurable and addictive to these folks.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I'm not the only one? Yeah, I find the image to be sad and disturbing. I'm not sure if that poor guy is really blissed out or if he just thinks that the people around him will be impressed by his theatrics.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  16. hippypoet

    recent study i just made up for this joke states that thou insane people do suffer a mental illness, they are infact amoung the most happy people alive today...i wonder if they know that, i mean that they're alive? Who gives a sh!t if they're happy, i come on, wouldn't you be happy being fed three solid means a day..THAT YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO COOK YOURSELF...yup. fu.ck them!


    February 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      If not having to cook your own meals is the root of happiness then people serving life in prison must be ecstatic.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • hippypoet

      shouldn't they be? they are safe from most harm, they get food and beds, and they get more exercise then most free people do every day... its alot to be happy about! they just don't see it that way! which is a shame...!!! 😦

      February 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      I hear that zoo animals are pretty happy too. Some of us like our freedom though.

      February 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  17. Commonsense

    All this article made me think was "Herp derp".

    February 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Ironicus

      You got that backwards. It's "derp herp".

      February 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  18. vel

    It'd be nice to report what the questions were. I'm a quite happy and healthy atheist. And I note that the religious go to the doctor and hospitals just as much as me, with no reliance on religions' promises of magical healing. I'm sure some will claim that their god works through medical research and doctors, but golly God must have really hated everyone who dared to live and get sick before he supposedly deigned to allow humanity to have antibiotics, modern surgery, c-limbs, chemotherapy, etc.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Get some new material to knock Jesus vel, since Luke was a physician and this truth has been written time and again on this site.

      2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

      1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and [by] our gathering together unto him,

      2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

      3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

      4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

      5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

      6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

      7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way.

      8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

      9 [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

      10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

      11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

      12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

      13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

      14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

      16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given [us] everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

      17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.


      P.S. Just because you atheist change your handles to resume posting your stale and old arguments against Jesus' truth ... NEWS flash, we know you have no imagination to call your own, but to bore us to death starting your rhetoric over and over because you loose your argument ... makes it snoring time. LOL.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Ironicus


      February 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Ok, vel, why is it that the scientifically advanced, prosperous, 1st world nations tend to be Christian and the backward, poor, 3rd world countries tend to be non-christian? There is something there that is more than coincidence. You atheists should thank God for for all the things that you arrogantly take credit for but had little or no involvement in producing!

      February 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Colin

      Abinadi. The same correlation can be made for talking English, distance form the equator and atheism. There is in fact a real correltaion betweeen non-belief and a country's prosperity. The least religious tend to be the higest in terms of standard of living, political transperency, anti-corruption and individual liberties.

      If prosperity is to be taken as a yardstick for validity of a faith, as you suggest (which is absurd, btw) atheism wins hands down.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Coming from you, who can do nothing but quote the same tired scripture without any personal insight at all, is just ironic.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • BRC

      Let me see if I can capture teh essence of your painfully ironic post. You claim that atheists, who come up with all of our positions on our own through research and interpretation of both ancient literature, the practices of multiple religions, and modern knowledge, have nothing original to say, and you refute our arguments by copying 17 lines out of a 2000 year old book, without any interpretation or validating information? ANd that somehow makes sense to you?

      February 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • BRC

      Name 1 thing we use today that you can prove "God" invented (I mean independently invented, not "inspeired the scientist" invented).

      February 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • W247

      BRC –

      What has God created ?

      Hmm... You. 🙂

      February 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • BRC

      Some people believe that, but I said what is something that can be proved. for instance, I know, and can prove, that I was created by my parents having s-x. The biological processes from there are well known, and require absolutely no divine intervention. Got anything else?

      February 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Why do believers spend any money on medical care? They have the promise of god:
      Mark 11:24: Jesus speaking
      Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

      John 14:14: Jesus speaking
      If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

      Mark 16: Jesus speaking
      16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

      James 5:15:
      And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.
      Believers babble on about faith and belief and how the bible is the inerrant word of god.
      Yet, most ignore His word, and buy health insurance and seek the knowledge of man.
      They are tweaking the nose of god!

      Some, have actually believed what the bible tells them. They prayed for their child, trusting in the word of god, and withheld medical care. The child died. OOOooopsie!
      Not to fret! This was part of god's plan for the young'in.?
      A true believer would never set foot in a doctor's office!

      But, they do. They seek medical care, because they don't believe the promises of god. They know, that in the real world, prayer rarely works (exception: coincidence / random chance).

      Believers attempt to smooth this over by saying a little prayer, receiving medical treatment and then giving the credit to their god, if they get well... Hmm...

      The bible says: " Sick people are oppressed by the devil. Acts 10:38
      If this is true, then how can medical care be effective? A shot of penicillin would have no effect on demonic oppression. LOL

      The bible isn't worthy of lining a bird's cage.

      Christians do not believe in Christianity because it is true. To them Christianity is true because they believe it.



      February 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • sam

      Jesus Christ, HS, we thought you were dead. There was a story about a hoarder who was crushed under their own debris on the front page yesterday.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Colin, you provided no evidence to support your claims and I am unimpressed. The only thing you atheists are good for is to hang around people of faith and tell us all how brilliant you are. Well, none of us think you are very brilliant, and that begs the question, what is your fascination with people of faith, anyway? Is it like a kid hanging around a candy store and drooling over something he can't have?

      February 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      HeavenSent: I hope you don't think that just because one of your prized biblical authors was a physician meant that he knew what cancer was, let alone how to treat it! (Not that we, with our advanced knowledge today even know how to do such a great job treating it).

      February 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Bizarre


      The Lord told Moses the correct treatment and cure for leprosy in Leviticus 14. It's the dangedest, silliest hokum that you'd ever want to read. That was the LORD speaking, HS, how dare anyone search for a better treatment ?!


      Here is the deal, right from the LORD:
      Get two birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one. Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly away. Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of its blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on his right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally find another pair of birds. Kill one and dip the live bird in the dead bird's blood. Wipe some blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle the house with blood 7 times. That's all there is to it.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • God of Death

      The world would be a much better place if the religious people were not to use science and it's achievements for their own health care. Let them use their god given prayers and medieval cures and all the world's problems will go away. That is a fact.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Abinadi, get back to me when you learn what the phrase "begging the question" means. It's obvious from your misuse of it that you haven't a clue.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      "Is it like a kid hanging around a candy store and drooling over something he can't have?"

      No, more like healthy people looking at obese people stuff themselves silly at an all-you-can-eat buffet and realizing that this is something that they don't want.

      February 18, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  19. Oh Yeah

    Try reading this article in Prevention Magazine, and see if you can find any similarities with this article.

    "5 Surprising Health Benefits Of Being A Sports Fan"


    February 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Small minds need a cause

      February 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Observer

      I guess it would be a cheap shot to offer you a good cause, William.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nihilisim dude!

      The only cause of the causeless!

      February 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  20. Colin

    “The findings confirm that the strong positive relationship between religiosity and wellbeing that Gallup previously demonstrated holds regardless of faith,”"

    I have often wondered what evolutionary advantage religion gave early ho.mo sapiens. Religious superst.itions are so pervasive in our species that they must have bestowed some Darwinian advantage or the calories and deaths exerted to maintain them would have ensured that they were out-competed by more secular behavioral compet.itors.

    They are world-wide, have existed throughout history and I know of no culture that did/does not have a religion. The common features are always;

    (i) that particular culture is the most important or god's "chosen" people, and god’s desires always reflect that culture’s desires;

    (ii) a priestly caste that has special magic powers that others do not possess and the others must support and obey the priestly caste;

    (iii) an assurance that natural events, such as storms and earthquakes can be controlled by the actions of the people – Aztecs performed sacrifices to make the sun rise, Christians believe asking their god (who can apparently read minds) for help will cause micro organisms or cancers to go away in sick friends and relatives;

    (iv) an assurance of living happily ever after they die is made, provided certain, geographic specific laws are obeyed-mainly concerning telling the relevant god(s) how wonderful they are in rituals, such as Sunday mass or daily Muslim prayer, dietary prohibitions and, of course the regulation of $exual conduct.

    Touching a prayer wheel makes Buddhists "lucky", witches stirred up by rival tribes cast spells in the highlands of New Guinea and grocery store bread and wine becomes the actual flesh and blood of a dead Middle Eastern prophet from 2,000 years ago, because a Catholic Priest performs some hocus-pocus over it in a Boston church.

    One would have thought that, with modern medicine, meteorology, telecommunications and a growing awareness of the natural world, we would have consigned our gods, ghosts and goblins to the trash heap of history, but alas, we are a fawning lot, and the knowledge that allows a few of us to cast off our superst.itions is yet to pervade our species. Knowledge, like honey, spreads slowly.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Logic says if those with a specific trait kill those who do NOT have it, then the trait becomes dominate.

      Religious people KILL non believers and use the God as rational

      February 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • A Little Help


      (the) rationale

      February 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Excellent post, Colin!
      And good point, WD, misspelling notwithstanding.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Colin

      Could be Bill. Imagine two rival civilizations. One expends a lot of their GDP building pyramids, cathederals or other edifices to the gods. The other invests this effort into science and education. Common sense dictates that the latter would outpace and take over the former in short order. But it has never happened, as far as I am aware! It is odd.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Observer

      WIlliam, I feel I am not being true to my phenotype. Shall I kill some nonbelievers? I just had lunch with several and enjoyed their company, sad things that they are.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Colin, actually, having the mark of the beast is what suppresses you non-believers.

      Do you know what mark of the beast means?


      February 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Brad

      Colin: You might enjoy John Barne's new book Daybreak 0. He suggests that autonomous self-perpetuating systems, such as religion, can emerge from anything of sufficient complexity, such as all the elements of society taken together with human psychology. Interesting, scary and fun.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Colin

      Thanks brad, I will.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Colin

      HeavenSent – my mother-in-law's fingerprints? I swear they are all siwrling 666s.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I don't think it was evolutionary advantage I think its probably just a side effect of curiosity. People ask questions like "why does the sun move across the sky?" And the best answer they can give is "its a guy named helios who drags it". People wanted to know why things happened and without enough scientific knowledge to come up with the right answer they make something up.

      So its not that evolution chose the religiously minded, it chose people with curiosity .

      February 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Of course now that we have real answers I think its just plain du.mb to believe in any of it

      February 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • DamianKnight


      "Could be Bill. Imagine two rival civilizations. One expends a lot of their GDP building pyramids, cathederals or other edifices to the gods. The other invests this effort into science and education. Common sense dictates that the latter would outpace and take over the former in short order. But it has never happened, as far as I am aware! It is odd."

      Agreed. There has never been a civilization that has not had some sort of theological beliefs. There is not, nor has been, any Vulcan-like society, that we are aware of, here on Earth. That would be a society based 100% on logic and facts. The whole purpose Gene Rodenberry (sp?) put the Vulcan society in Star Trek, and the reason Spock was never the Captain of the Enterprise was because decisions have to be made outside of logic sometimes. Sometimes the logical answer isn't the best one.

      Humans are beings of emotions and hope. I don't think there is a single person who can operate purely on logic. It defies our very nature. It is only because of hope that people continue to seek science. They "hope" to understand the world better, they "hope" to cure diseases the affect them and other such things. How many hypothesises get thrown out because they are inconclusive or don't provide results? But we continue to try. Why? Hope. But hope isn't rational and more often than not, inspired by emotional desires. It's wishful thinking. But there is nothing wrong with that.

      That is what religion brings to many people. Hope. Humans thrive on it. We thrive on making our world better, on making our lives better, to make it almost like Eden was described in the Bible. No cares, no worries, and we are all taken care of in a place of utopia.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      +10 Nerd Points for using a Star Trek analogy!

      Now – can you answer Captain Kirk's ultimate theological question?
      "What does God need with a starship?"

      February 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • DamianKnight


      I dunno, but Q seems to always pop up on Picard's ship, and he's practically a god.. 🙂

      I have to he honest, I'm much more of a Star Wars fan than a Star Trek fan. My mother is a giant trekkie so I wound up watching a lot of it, growing up and going to conventions. I got to take an elevator with Majel Barrett, got to talk with Brent Spiner and did some security work for Garrett Wang. All very nice people.

      Only Star Wars person I've gotten to see was the kid who played Boba Fett and I didn't really get to talk with him.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • God of Death

      Every colonized planet or civilization out in the universe will have to endure and overcome 'religion'. That is an irrefutable fact.
      There will always be a time in their historic progression that they have yearned for the answers and they will all use their imaginations, but when they 'grow up' technology always will help them out. It's inevitable.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gosh, I'm just breathless with anticipation! I can hardly wait until HS educates us all as to the "mark of the beast." I suspect it's the hickey she gave her cat.

      February 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
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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.