• Atheism Has A Suicide Problem

    About a year ago a friend of mine died. He was the first person I take credit for de-converting away from theism to atheism. While I can’t say for certain that his death was suicide, I can’t rule it out. It has also been about four months now since the death of Humanist activist and friend Joe Fox. Joe was the reason I became the head of PhillyCoR and while he seemed like the happiest person you could know and was always there for anyone who needed help, he apparently secretly struggled with depression. I also have another friend who recently de-converted and is having a very difficult time adjusting to the reality that God doesn’t exist. While I don’t think he is suicidal, I would be surprised if he didn’t think about it at times.

    This is something we don’t like to admit, but it is true. There is a problem within the atheist community of depression and suicide. I know we would all like to believe that atheists are happier people than religious believers and in many ways we are. But we also have to accept the reality that in some very important ways we are not.

    Ignorance really is bliss. People are happier when they have no idea what is going on. But when people do know what is going on, when they actually have a clearer picture of reality, they are in a better position to make themselves really happy. It is the difference between being high on drugs and being high on life. Or in this case high on Jesus vs. high on the vast wonders of the universe. Obviously, being high on life is the better kind of happiness.

    Plus, when we know what is not making us happy, we can take actions to fix things and to make us happy. If we just wash down the pain with religious platitudes, we don’t actually fix any actual problems. With that said though, recognizing the problems sometimes isn’t enough. Atheists are often isolated and ostracized. We see the sad state of affairs in the world and see the harmful influences of religion which at times seem overwhelming with little to no hope in sight. Religious believers can find help and comfort in their religious institutions, but atheists usually can only find help online or in very small local communities that don’t meet very often.

    Then there is the transition period in which an atheist has just left religion and feels completely lost. They are often without the community they have depended on for so long and suffer from the existential questions of life for the first time. They were often used to the belief that God is with them everywhere and now they know that it was all false. So they feel really lonely and even angry that they have been lied to all their lives.

    We have to do better. Atheists don’t have to suffer alone. We have to try to reach out to those who need help and those who need help have to actually reach out and get the help they need. Fortunately, there are a lot of atheists who go into the field of psychology and psychiatry. Don’t suffer quietly and alone. If you or someone you know needs help, check out The Therapist Project where you can get help from an atheist friendly therapist. If that isn’t for you, find a friend, someone in your local community you can trust, a fellow atheist online, or anyone you think might be able to help.

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    Category: Atheismdeathdepression

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

    152 comments

        1. I completely agree there is a correlation (numerous studies). But no study has shown causation. And indeed, people commit suicide for all kinds of reasons, including deeply religious people. So clearly it is no magic bullet.

          Other studies have shown that much of the protective effect has more to do with entirely secular components such as community building and social structure. These are things the secular community I’m familiar with here in the US is very well aware of and they are working on it.

          I find it far more likely that causes such as a person becoming a non-believer and then, after finding their world-view destroyed, their friends and families reject them and attack them are responsible for some of those suicides. I think that living in a world that constantly pushes threats veiled in religious terms is responsible for some of those suicides. I think that being constantly told that you are a sinful being, doomed to failure and being unworthy are responsible for some of those suicides.
          And we know that religiously-fueled hatred of gay people has lead to bullying which contributed to numerous suicides here in the US (not to mention murders, beatings, and other abuses).
          But at the end of the day, if a smidgen of knowledge about our condition in the universe (and let’s be honest, atheism is more of a statement of saying we simply don’t know what our condition is – it really doesn’t offer any conclusion on the question other than finding existing claims wanting) is more likely to cause some people to commit suicide, then so be it. The truth is, to me, the more important concern.

          I would also like to see this study done with a sharper division between those who merely are ‘unaffiliated’ but still believe in superstition and those who strongly reject the supernatural, the superstitious, and who affirm AND EVIDENCE the application of reason to human problems.

    1. I really dislike your article here, mostly because you seem to be stating this as FACT when it is clearly based on anecdotal evidence, or your personal experience. Do you have some studies, some data, to back this up?

      I think you are TRYING to do a good thing here, but you actually aren’t. You are insinuating that atheists are more depressed, and can’t cope with their newfound belief that there is no god. By doing so you also indirectly state that believers are happier people. There are plenty of believers that commit suicide. There are many different reasons why people commit suicide – for some its a chemical imbalance, for others it’s the medication for their chemical imbalance, broken marriages, loss of career, loss of spouse, terminal illness/disease, etc.

      Please publish studies to back up your claim, or if not, at least preface it with IN MY OPINION.

      1. Donna, of course this is my opinion. I thought that went without saying. It is also based on my personal experience and I thought that I made that pretty clear int he first paragraph. I did find a study that shows that atheists are more likely to be suicidal than religious, but that has nothing really to do with what this post is about. It’s not a contest. The fact is that there are atheists who are suicidal out there.

        I also talked about the difference between religious happiness and atheist happiness. I think I made that point pretty clear as well.

        I’m not insinuated that atheists can’t cope; I am flat out saying that there are SOME atheists who have a hard time transitioning from belief to lack of belief. This DOES cause a great deal of stress and CAN lead to suicide. I gave one example of a friend of mine who has been a long time Christian and who recently lost his faith and is having that very problem now. But he is just one example. This is something that happens a lot based on my experience in the community.

        Sure, there are lots of reason why people kill themselves, but as I indicated in the post religious believers have institutions that help them deal with those problems. We don’t have that infrastructure yet. Plus, there are atheists who aren’t part of the community of reason and they don’t even have what little infrastructure we have.

        The study that I posted in response to Justin also mentioned that atheists have less moral issues with suicide and this is true. I personally think that people have the right to die and if they really want to kill themselves, that is their right. All I can do is try to convince them that it is better to live… in most cases.

        Here
        s that study btw: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleid=177228

        1. Hi stacks, please think/rectify again when you are commenting on sensitive issues. you posted “I personally think that people have the right to die and if they really want to kill themselves, that is their right”. Your thought in this sentence is wrong, because no human has that right religiously and even atheistically. Otherwise why would any secular/non-secular and democratic/non-democratic constitution/law impose imprisonment who commit suicide.

          Further, your initiation and cause for helping atheists is a good one, but I think it needs to be well extended. First of all, translating to atheism, need not be well affiliated and it doesn’t need to have a social community as incentive just like religion has. Wherever there is any social group for a cause, there will be few people who exploit the rest, if not in the early stage of the community, it may be probably be done in future. So one of the very basic reason of getting into atheism will be exploited.

          Hence, an atheist should understand basically that the world works professional, and if he doesn’t have enough strength to fight with that depression, he is ethically unfit to be an atheist. No one in this world asked anyone to convert to an atheist, like religions do. It is a transformation from his own realization. And if someone helps in that process, he wont be a successful person. Even if he gets help, one cannot guarantee that he will not seek help again from some atheist community to fight depression, and someday he may take atheism as another religion.

          1. I disagree with you on many of the issues you raised here. For starters, I will hold to my view that we have a moral right to die. If someone really wants to kill themselves, I believe that is their right. I might try to talk them out of it, but only to a point.

            I also think that it is a good idea for atheists to build communities. Sure, not all atheists want this and that is fine. No one is forcing anyone to join communities of reason. But there is no doubt that there are benefits to being part of a community. One of which is that the community is able to help the individual to do things that the individual themselves might not be able to do. This is an evolutionary advantage that human beings have over many other animals.

            I do not subscribe to the “Social Darwinist” model that people who need help are weak and therefore should be eliminated from the gene pool. That’s bullshit. We help each other and then we get stronger. Those of us who might be weak in one area might be strong in other areas. They might even be necessary in other areas. Stephen Hawking is the perfect example. If we just let him to die because he was sick, we would know less about the universe today.

            So I completely disagree with you on those issues. If an atheist needs help with depression once, they may need help again. So what? Life isn’t easy and if you fall down, you get back up. If you fall down again, you get back up again. If you need help getting up, then I have no problem creating a system in which we help people back up. The key is always to get up more time than you fall down.

      2. my atheist friends are much darker people in general, and much harder to cheer up. you have to be careful the language you use around them because even something like “things tend to work out” can be triggering. do they have a depression problem? absolutely. a suicide problem? i have no clue i don’t have that info. but depression absolutely.

    2. Re “community”, “support”, and the like. I have found in Atheist meetups, and similar organizations, that whatever my problem might be, I am on my own. With the exception of a very few people in the secular movement, most won’t even socialize with me.

      1. Jim, I am sorry to hear that. Our local group is quite friendly and most of us go out for lunch before the monthly meeting. Having said that, I have only been to one major atheist conference and most people did not speak to me and were not very friendly. They were a bit cliquish. That might be more to do with the type of people who attend conferences regularly rather than the fact that they are atheists.

    3. Could it be by our very nature that since many of us atheists are not joiners or are often isolated in our (non)beliefs, especially in “red” communities, we don’t have the opportunity to express our angst? This of course would lead to depression which for some people becomes so acute that they see no way out but suicide.

      1. Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. Also, when atheists have depression (genetically) or have serious life problems they often don’t have the support system to help them deal with those things. We need to do a better job at reaching out to each other.

        1. I’d say it goes beyond religion ‘also’ offering a support community. The MAIN thing religion provides is community; that’s why arguments about actual dogma tend not to make much of an impression on people who supposedly believe in those tenets. Because the specific dogma really isn’t the reason these folks go to church; they go for the community.

          As such, they have a built-in support system when things go bad for them. For better or worse, atheists do not have access to that same type of network.

          1. Religion is not just a support system. It is a perspective. We can see this world in relation to an infinitely larger context. We know that our conscious minds are only a tiny fraction of what we are.
            Atheists lack this kind of perspective. You identify with your conscious ego. There is no escape from that little prison.
            If you ever have a serious problem — and we all do, eventually — you can only get help from fragile little humans like yourself. You don’t believe in superior sources of wisdom, so you don’t reach out for it.
            Being religious is not easy. It’s a difficult struggle. But we can have awareness of the conflicts between different parts of ourselves.
            Atheists talk about loving the glorious universe. But do you really? Your universe is, supposedly, made of dead mindless matter. What could be glorious about that?
            My universe is an infinitely intelligent mystery. And it is glorious.

            1. Your universe is a lie. As a former believer myself, I have moved beyond the lie. I see my life as part of a great tapestry. I am part of the world, part of the human species. I am very much aware that this life is my only life and so I live it fully. I also do my best to make this world a better place for those who come after me. I want humanity to achieve great things and I want to play my part in that tapestry of achievement.

              When atheists do have problems, I am hoping that we will turn to flawed humans to help us solve those problems instead of getting high on imaginary deities. We need to deal with our problems, not hide from them behind false religious platitudes.

            2. The universe is not a beautiful tapestry. By empirical standards it is a cold dead thing except in some parts where it is a violent murderous thing. It is uncaring and pointless without a metaphysical perspective to deliver you from its horrors. Physics has shown that it is fundamentally absurd. Beholding the godless cosmos and concluding it is beautiful is the height of willful delusion. Hearing you coach yourself to appreciate you humanity and your world and you life and you species is reminiscent of a nice little prayer of thanksgiving. Amen.

            3. It’s both actually.

              Yes, the universe is a cold dark place, but it is also wondrous beyond words with mysteries yet to be explored. Unfortunately, we are still stuck on this single planet on the arm of a single galaxy resting on the edge of a galactic cluster. Just imagine how exciting it would be to be out there exploring the vast unknown. Imagine exploring the unknown possibilities of existence. Right now, you and I can help move that ball forward so that other people might have that opportunity. It’s amazing. Live life, friend. Live it!

            4. You are so silly. Your pep talks are silly. You’re like Stuart Smalley. I’m good enough, smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me (say it in the mirror now.) Please grant me the premise that life and physics are fundamentally absurd and then try to explain how the stupid junk flying around in space is interesting, or anything more interesting than the rest of absurdity. That is your assignment.

            5. Wow, this is a switch. Usually Christians accuse atheists of being angry all the time and hating life and here you are accusing me of being too happy. I’ll take it. 🙂

              The universe is massive and there are so many interesting things that we have yet to discover about the universe. It truly is amazing and the more we learn about it the less we know. That alone is interesting.

              In the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q pointed out something similar to your point to Captain Picard. The universe is much more than classifying star systems and exploring nebula, it is exploring the unknown possibilities of existence.

              Not only are we made of star stuff, but we are smart enough, to be able to figure that out. Just think about what we will be able to figure out next. I want to live long enough to find out. I want to know even though we as a species may never know. That is the beauty of life.

            6. Yeah, I’m real young. A young 39. 🙂

              But if you need to imagine that I am 16 to help you through the day, that’s cool. I have noticed that a lot of religious people need to make excused for why atheists don’t believe in God because that way they don’t have to actually think about it. They can just write the atheist off right from the start.

              Life is hard, but making up fairy tales isn’t the answer. Dealing with reality allows you to move past your issues and come out of it on the other side. I hope you decide to seek medical help for your depression. There is no shame in that. If you had a headache, you would take something for it. Depression is no different. Think about it.

    4. I have been depressed since I was a teen and I was a grew up in a Catholic family, also an abusive father and I became a alcoholic like the rest of the males in my family. I have been an atheist since 2005. It has not made me happier. The only shrink that was covered by my insurance kept feeding me pills.I stopped taking anti depressant because they were not helping. I try to use exercise for relief. I have thought of suicide a number of times but has nothing to do with atheism. I was going to buy a gun for home protection but I am afraid I will shoot myself I did not bother. I guess I would say I have been afraid to live life. I did go to the atheist convention last year and I am going to Austin in March.
      It helps being around people that are like minded.

      1. Obviously depression can be and often is genetic. Atheism doesn’t cause depression (although the transition can be depressing for some). The problem is the we don’t have the support network to help address the problem. I’m glad you are going to the convention in Austin. I hope that will help but that is only a short term solution. If the meds you are on aren’t working either try different meds or get some sort of counseling. Please don’t suffer in silence. Get help. We need people like you in the movement.

    5. If I’m reading the Dervic paper correctly (especially the Figure 1 box at the bottom and the associated maths) religions have managed to drive down suicide attempts primarily by instilling faith-based moral objections to suicide in their parishioners. While demostrably effective, this is an avenue closed to Skeptics and Freethinkers. Presumably, we’ll have to find a better way.

      1. If there are I haven’t seen them. I only went looking for a study when Justin inquired about one. That was the only study I found.

    6. Too many variables. Where is the study? Adolescents alone commit suicide more than the general population. Atheism is becoming more prevalent in younger people. I think a sound study is in order before drawing a conclusion like that.

      1. The study has been posted in the comments section, but that isn’t the point of the post. This isn’t a contest to see who has a greater risk of suicide. It is an opportunity to help those within the atheist community who struggle with depression and to help those who may be suicidal. There are too many atheists who are in that category and we have a serious problem with a lack of support for those who need it. Religious believers can go to their church leaders for counseling, but who do atheists go to? Many don’t feel comfortable going to a professional or are afraid that the professional they go to will be religious. This is even more of a concern for people who are transitioning from religion to atheism. They just don’t know who to trust and may be afraid to talk about their thoughts and feelings.

        1. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

          A good place to start or if in a crisis. I believe there is a text connection at 741741? it may be listed on their site.

          Cliche but very true that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. In many ways it is far more complicated than that, but in the end it kind of boils down to that.

          Folks contemplating suicide often feel helpless and without hope. People at the hotline can help them work through those feelings and direct them to some local resources who can help long term.

          Thanks for postiposting this. Hopefully the discussion will help people realize they are not alone and there is help out there for them.

          Peace

    7. Suicidal tendencies have nothing to do with atheism, I don’t think. It’s more that people are broken away from decades of brainwashing, and as pattern-seeking animals, we can find that hard to deal with.
      I’ve never believed in a god, and I have no plan of killing myself anytime soon. The universe is far too beautiful for it to be worth shortening my already momentary existence.

    8. This sounds a lot like what happens to gay people when they “come out.” Things are changing, but it used to be a very isolating experience to be gay, and there is/was a lot of depression/alcoholism/suicide in the gay community. Transitions are always difficult. The world is slowly transitioning to secularism. There will be difficulties with the transition, but it will be worth it. Meanwhile, we should do what we can to build community and support for each other. I’m thinking of starting a humanist group in my own community. Sitting around feeling lonely is not a good option.

      1. The world isn’t transitioning into secularism. Perhaps in the little bubble westerners are so captivated with. But in the third-world, where the majority of births take place, religiosity is on the rise.

        And as long as there are more pressing issues of suffering in the world, especially in the aforementioned areas (starvation, and lack of other basic needs) resources will not (and shouldn’t) be given to promote agendas the are dubious to the common good.

    9. I accept a correlation between depression and atheism, but not the assumed direction of causation. For me at least, I may never have lost my religion had I not been depressed at the time. I can remember praying for help and asking what I had done wrong. That was what triggered me to ask the question of why a good god would allow suffering. I started reading the bible to try to find an answer, discovered all the disgusting, horrible, weird, and boring things in it, and that was about it for religion for me. And afterwards, I actually felt a lot better: regardless of my problems, at least I didn’t have to worry about a supernatural entity being pissed off at me anymore. It gave me a feeling of having much more control over my own future.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if depressed people deconvert at a higher rate than people for whom everything is fine as is. That would leave any population of atheists with a higher rate of depression than the general population.

      1. I;m not claiming causation. I’m claiming that there are atheists that have depression and there are atheists that are suicidal and they don’t have the support infrastructure that religion has. I am also claiming that atheists transitioning away from religion often get depressed on a philosophical level before they find a support network of friends that they feel comfortable with. There are of course many other issues here too.

    10. First I really don’t think it’s a good idea to us this person’s name. The article could stand on its own without this personal information and its effects on their family.

      Suicide is a very complex issue often dealing with deep internal feelings that have little to do with other people. It is a mistake to assume that superficial issues are the cause.

    11. Stacks- I am still trying to process your article: and I am not clear who your audience is and where it was published, outside of your blog. My first reaction was that it was very presumptuous. Assuming that our friends who commit suicide are depressed is really simplifying a very complex decision that we cannot understand. Saying someone was obviously depressed suggests that that is the only possible reason for why they would make that decision. Secondly, this kind of speculation does nothing to help our image. Is suicide the problem, or is they way atheists (and other minorities) are often alienated and/or misunderstood by society. LGBT teens, for instance, are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than straight kids. And finally, we have articles by prominent atheists defending the decision to end your life as your choice and right, regardless of health or circumstances. Atheists do not fear hell or damnation, and it is fear that would keep the religious person from following through on the idea. Consequently, atheists may have a higher success rate. Think carefully before you make assumptions about people.

      1. I’m not aware that I made any assumptions. My point is that we need to better address the problem of suicide in our community but creating a better support network for people who are depression and/or are in the transitional process away from theism. If there are any assumptions I have made they were not intentional. My intent here is to help people to get the help they need.

    12. Maybe denialists have a higher suicide rate because they know that their life means nothing without God, but are too arrogant to beg him for forgiveness even though they know inside they are guilty, they choose to die forever with their sin.
      All the most ridiculous reasons people can be mad at something or someone you best bet they can be mad at God for, their life didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to or that one hot chick/guy in class didn’t agree to be your gf/bf.
      Wow you guys, there’s a little thing called reality and its not going to stop or change anything for you, so denying it will do nothing but show everyone who you really are, so go ahead and do that, its better than hiding it and eventually springing it up on some unsuspecting person, expose yourself now and let the world leave you in the dark.

    13. Sorry not trying to troll. I would have committed suicide a long long time ago if i didn’t think i was going straight to hell if i did.

        1. I cannot speak for everyone, that’s not fair but let me tell you with absolute honestly non existence means nothing to me (sorry i had too). But seriously, this is a great shame for me but if i did believe in nothingness after i die, i would right at this moment go up to a high peak down myself a half bottle of whiskey and throw myself off. If that was truly it. If im just matter then in my opinion i don’t really matter….

          1. Wow. So you have no dreams or aspirations? You don’t care about anyone and no one cares about you? Look, I don’t want you to kill yourself, but the reality is that there really isn’t an afterlife. My advise is that you enjoy this life. Spend some quality time with family and friends now because you aren’t going to see them after they are dead. Don’t wait to let them know you love them. Do it now. Show them now. Live your life, you don’t have another one. When you die, it’s game over man. You’re dead.

            1. Atheism is a false religion, with no basis in science or logic. You claim to know things you cannot know. Atheists worship human cleverness, and deny the reality of super levels of consciousness. You think that if you can’t see something, it can’t be real. But many of us do see it, and we know it is real.
              As for what happens after death, you do not know. You need to feel you have superior insight and knowledge, but you don’t. You are spiritually blind.
              If atheists are more likely to be depressed, it’s because they believe something that is not true.
              Help from something greater than ourselves is always within reach. Believers can endure setbacks and misfortunes better than atheists, because we know someone is always there to guide us through it.

            2. Again I am shocked at the cruelty of Christians. Here is Peter who is clearly suicidal and instead of trying to help him deal with his pain, Believer comes in and starts insulting me as I am trying to get Peter some help.

              But let me address your issues. First, atheism isn’t a religion. However you define religion, atheism is exactly not that. But I am glad that you agree with me that religion is a bad thing. That to me is at least progress.

              Atheism isn’t a belief system. It is merely the view that theists have not presented valid evidence for their claims. The logic of atheism is that you have not supported your beliefs with actual evidence or facts.

              Personally, I don’t worship anything. I do greatly admire human cleverness, science, and reason… and with good reason. You and I are having this conversation across a great distance because human cleverness, science, and reason have allowed it to happen.

              Please present some valid evidence for this “super levels of consciousness.” If you can’t do that, then it is only logical that I will be skeptical of your ridiculous claim.

              No, I don’t think that if I can’t see something it can’t be real. I think that if none of my senses can detect something even with the aid of scientific tools, then I have no good reason to believe that it is real. If you could present some kind of valid evidence, I would be very willing to change my position. But short of actual evidence, sorry.

              I don”t know what happens after death, but you are claiming that we live on in some sort of magic happy land… or that we will live on to be tortured for all eternity. That just seems silly to me especially when you have no evidence to support your view. I don’t think there is anything after death because we are our brains and when our brains die, then there is nothing left that can live on. But again, my view is subject to change based on the evidence. Right now, that evidence favors the view that death is death. Funny how that works.

              The evidence does not support your claims. Sorry.

            3. dangerous talk you did not help peter at all, if you even tried to understand his point just fr a second youd realize you actually encouraged him to do suicide. you’re a horrible person.

            4. I’m trying to get Peter help. I don’t see you doing anything at all. Personally, I think life is worth living and I would never encourage anyone to kill themselves. However, if someone has truly made up their mind to die, there isn’t much I or anyone else can do. I might accept a person’s choice, but I have never nor will I ever encourage anyone to kill themselves.

              What you are doing here “guest,” is using someone’s pain to advance your belief. That is immoral and you should be ashamed of yourself. Peter is in pain and I hope he gets the help he needs. I hope he sees a professional or contacts the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

            5. you can clearly see that your help is not helpful at all, based on his beliefs. so what are you doing? you’re encouraging him to do suicide that’s what you’re doing. you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

            6. you told him to drop his belief when you can see that’s the reason he chooses to keep living. you’re a terrible person.

            7. This is a laughably ridiculous comment. The statement, “you claim to know things you cannot know.” holds absolutely no weight coming from a theist of any religion. Simply asserting that something is so does not make it so. If I told you that Jesus was a race-car driver, without offering any evidence to support this claim, you would have good reason to laugh in my face. The beauty of Atheism is that it claims to know nothing but what is actually KNOWN.
              The only basis for Atheism is science and logic. Nothing else need apply. Once again, asserting that God makes the stars twinkle doesn’t make it true; even if you found it written in a very old book. That is not science. It doesn’t even remotely resemble science.
              On to depression; there is no evidence that Atheism lends to depression. In fact beliefs of any kind are only a minuscule factor. It’s simply chemistry on a very complex scale. Our evolution has a species has left some people genetically more prone to chemical imbalances that lead to depression. Feel free to argue your “Intelligent Design” theory now.

            8. oh silly atheists – stop pretending like you care about anyone except those that have the same belief system as you – you are simply pushing your agenda, and your misery on others – misery does love company doesn’t it?

            9. You seem to know a lot about misery Ted. Again, this post is about people who are genuinely suffering and you are on here being hateful. I should remind you that some of the people reading this blog post might be suicidal and yet here you are trying to push them over the edge. Many Christians talk about compassion, but it is often just talk. You don’t seem to have any.

            10. So you are severely mentally handicapped too? Or is it just extremely dishonest? Those are the two options you have if you think what he said was even close to spot on.

            11. Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color. There are no rituals, no songs, no holy books, no rules, no priests- in short, nothing like a religion.

              As for depressed atheists, I had the opposite reaction- Something about being told over and over I was a worthless sinner and born “defective” , told to hate the world around me. Told that if I didn’t have enough faith, then it was my fault.

              Yes, leaving religion was the best thing that ever happened to me.
              Now I have control of my life, instead of fear having control.

            12. Awesome Cris! I think most atheists are in the same boat as you are after a time. Personally, I feel the same way. Leaving religion was the best thing that ever happened to me. However, I know many atheists have had to suffer from existential problems and social anxiety before they were able to get to the place we are now. I think we need to build more communities to help them with that transition.

            13. 1. there are un written rules like 1. thou shall claim to know everything 2. thou shall not doubt stephen hawking richard dawkins or thy god charles darwin and finally 3. thou shall use the a.c.l.u at every chance to remove what thee whines and bitches about

            14. Actually, what you are misrepresenting is something that a lot of atheists tend to have in common, and it is not listening to authority figures (a very clear tenant of theism) as you seem to claim, it is believing in things that have evidence to back them up. I can’t even believe you would try to make that comment because it is so clearly, demonstrably how theism works.

            15. sorry this was a long time ago and i think i was just trying to joke but not trying to offend deeply sorry if i did

            16. Sorry bud, I probably should have recognized the sarcasm. I unfortunately had been dealing with people that had ludicrous things to say prior to this. My bad. Sorry again. =)

        2. I realize this post was made a year ago. But I will verify this anyway because I am an atheist with an extreme fear of non-existence. So yea, Not going to kill myself anytime soon.

          1. I came here searching out the link between atheism and suicide after hearing about Robin Williams today. I was once a nihilist and thought that hearing someone on this forum fear non-existence was close but not true for me. When I was a nihilist I did not have a fear of non existence, I had a knowledge of non-existence, and that is what depressed me. I knew that I was fundamentally absurd, just like the rest of reality, and it was a daily struggle to distract myself from that knowledge, and a daily shame that I was not brave enough to accept and behave according to my dark knowledge. I was a hypocrite whenever I lived or did anything contributing to the delusion that life is important, special, valuable, or real. It wasny until I finally did kill myself that I was able to escape non-existence. I have put myself to death. I have been born again in thebspirit . I am a new creation in Christ.

            1. I feel sad for you. When you go to the movies, do you fear that the movie will be over after 2 hours? Why would anyone bother to watch a movie when they know that the movie will be over. What’s the point of watching a movie in the first place?

              Yes, we will all die and no, we are not special in the cosmic sense of the word. However, we live our life for the same reason we go to the movies. Because it is enjoyable. Life is special when we live it.

              I think this is much less depressing than believing in the bribe and threat of eternal destinations. Don’t waste your one and only life trying to get into an imaginary paradise. Live your life, friend. Live it!

            2. I wonder if you are truly sad for me or are patronizing me.

              Don’t say “we” live our lives for the same reason we go to the movies. Not only do I not entertain myself anymore with such trivialities (I only read nonfiction and watch documentaries) but it is only yourself that you can speak for. I don’t live my life for the reason you watch movies.

              Last, your motivational speech failed to convince me that life is worth living according to your standards. You may use anexclamation, but you should use an objective sstandard instead. You say that life is enjoyable therefore we should live it. That’s not good enough. That’s why atheism has a suicide problem. You said it yourself and you have no answer. I appreciate the call to address the problem but your attempt falls very short, which I am sure your are cognizant of, since your post requested a solution instead of proposing a solution to atheism’s little problem.

            3. Suicide is a problem for atheists, but it is also a problem for theists too. Life can be tough and there is no getting around that fact. But we have only one life and then we are done. We should live that life and enjoy it. Why do you both to read a book knowing that there is a last page? What is the point of reading a book at all? Obviously, you know the book will have a last page, but you read it non-the-less. Life is the same way.

              If you are having a tough time in life, then I suggest you find something that will bring you joy. Surround yourself with friends and family. Re-prioritize so that you can truly enjoy life. Because when it is over, it is over. You won’t be able to see how many people show up at your funeral because you will be dead.

              Are there any people you care about in your life? Think about how they would feel if you died? Remember that more people care about you than you probably realize. They just might not show it at the moment because they are sidetracked with their own problems and think that they have tomorrow to show their love. But if you kill yourself, they won’t have tomorrow and you will never get to hear their loving words. The time to live in now. Gather thy rosebuds while thy may.

            4. by your materialistic view i understand your reasoning. though it is very primitive. you read a book, you read about the characters in it, but does the characters end with the end of the book? no. you keep on thinking about them thus they live on defying the end of the book. your bad example is a bad example. Want to try again kiddo?

            5. i sse you used this crap argument in all of your comments. unfortunate. for a 39 you seem to be on a level of 16. how pitiful. Sgt POG is right. you seem to be on a a level of a raving teenager. the feel he expressed to you is not anger but pity

            6. What a dumb dumb dumb analogy! When you go to a movie you don’t fear the movie to be over because you can watch it again and again and again plus many others to come but when your life is over….guess what? Game is over dude (that is according to an atheist).

            7. Yeah, but that isn’t the point of the analogy. When talking about the purpose of life, many religious believers often claim that atheists have no reason to live since we think that when you die we are dead. My point is that we still go to movies even though we know that the movie will end. The end isn’t the important part. The important part is the movie itself. My point is that for me the purpose of life is to live and enjoy life.

            8. You can’t enjoy life if you fear non-existence as is the case with sgt POG and apparently he’s not the only atheist that has this problem. Reading what he wrote he doesn’t even know what the purpose of life is since it all ends anyway. He might be questioning why should he bother to enjoy life since this enjoyment is going to be all gone and forgotten anyways. I just can’t imagine trying to live like this, without a real purpose! You can say that atheist have a purpose but these are just temporary things and lead to nothingness, I’m not a god believer because I never liked the idea of not being self determined nor I believe that Jesus was divine but I believe that he existed because most historians say that there is enough evidence that he did and not because of some religious guru tells me so. To me Jesus was a normal guy who was more spiritual aware than most people at that time and I know that this view will upset many Christians but I believe in spiritual awareness meaning I live my life as spiritual being and loosing my body should be no more upsetting than loosing a one hundred dollar bill. I already know what the replies to this are going to be, there’s no physical evidence that we are a spiritual being! Of course not, the spiritual being is not physical and can only be felt through awareness. Now I can could talk about regression but psychiatrists and neurologists which are mostly atheists have all kinds of explanations for it, none of them can explain as to why these patients can see themselves from above other than some kind of imagination which always amazes me how imagination could coincide with real events.

            9. If nothing has any value then there can’t be a certain way you should act just because nothing has any value. If nothing is right or wrong, if nothing has any value, then it can’t be wrong to do things that are associated with something being important, special, valuable, or real.

        3. But Hell can be avoided by believing in Christ our Lord. If we’re truly going to hit a black wall, there’s no way to avoid it anyway.
          I do think that atheists are overwhelmed by their fear of nonexistence and that’s what makes them more likely to be depressed, miserable and to commit suicide.

      1. don’t worry there’s always hope and i would suggest trying to find some help from a freind or family member

    14. This would be an interesting study to find out. Causation vs. correlation. Are atheists more likely to be depressed? Or are people already with depression more likely to be atheists?

    15. I think you hit the nail on the head in your article. I grew up in a southern baptist church. My mom taught bible school classes, and I attended church at least twice every week. I would use the term brainwashing and say that it’s very accurate. Once I started thinking more for myself and got older, I realized the truth and it did feel like I had been deceived and betrayed. I step back and try to account for people who honestly believe what they were teaching me to be the truth and had good intentions, but even that realization doesn’t really make a difference. I believe that there are multiple complexities to be considered when attributing depression to atheism and your article touches on them. We need a stronger support community as I think there are many converts in my shoes that are ostracized.

      Thanks for writing this and I look forward to improving our community as a whole in the years to come.

    16. I think you place far too much importance on the fear of hell or community support. Perhaps the reason devote Christians commit suicide less (except in the case of sever mental illness) is because they realize love is an real property of this existence (love of God, love of fellow man, love of self). That love is not just merely an illusion of electrical nerve impulses in the brain. And if love is real & love is sacrifice, then suffering can have meaning. I mean not all religions feel that way: Buddhism’s whole goal is to avoid suffering by rejecting desire. However, in Christianity, the greatest good in this life has come through suffering: God allowing his torture & death as a sacrifice for our sins, martyrs dying rather than denying their faith, or even the suffering of fasting. It all has meaning. It is all done in love. So when a devote Christian encounter suffering, they do not off themselves to alleviate the pain, they use the pain to draw closer to God’s love. I know when I have been hurting, I have been far more humble then in the good times.

      1. For atheist/humanists, love can only come from friends and family. But friends and family can love us one day and despise us the next. For believers, love is infinite and constant and will always be there for us.
        Yes, suffering brings us closer to our source of love and life and salvation.
        I don’t think it’s any particular religion. I think they all have the same core message. There is love and hope for all of us, if we want it.
        We do not exist within our physical brains. We are spiritual beings. We are not separate little islands made of cells. We are always connected.
        Believers know that our lonely isolation is just an illusion. For an atheist, isolation and separateness are the reality. If your social life is not going well, you are alone. If you are not doing well financially, then your social life is probably not great. You are on your own, a tiny being lost in a dead uncaring universe.
        Sure there might be lots of happy atheists. But when life starts going wrong, where can they turn? Go to a psychiatrist and get mind-numbing drugs?

        1. Religion is a mind-numbing drug!!! When things get rough, we have to turn to each other for comfort and help. But knowing this makes us more likely to help others when they are in need without the need to push the mind-numbing drug of religion on them.

          We are our brains. We are neurons, impulses, and chemicals, but that doesn’t make our emotions imaginary. They are what they are. Knowing this allows us to alter our emotions by learning how best to alter our neurons, impulses, and chemicals. This is how science and medicine work and why prayer does not. Don’t believe me? Stop using modern medicine!

    17. I’ve been an atheist since 15 and depressed and suicidal and lonely also since then. Thinking about killing myself right now in fact. It still doesn’t make any gods exist. No where to go. No fools lying and telling me things will get better. Just Dr. with pills that never work. I’m now 47. There are atheists in fox holes. I’m there and not only are there no gods, but also no friends and no love. I’ve loved twice but have never been loved in return. That’s as honest as I can be. I don’t like this world and there are no others. It’s life without the love of a woman that gets to me. Just shouting in the dark.

      1. Will, depression is a serious thing and life is not easy but there are things worth living for. We are part of the tapestry of humanity and being able to make that tapestry better can also make us feel better and can give our lives meaning. I strongly recommend that you check out the therapist project: http://www.seculartherapy.org/

        We do living in an exciting time when religion is starting to fade away and secular humanist values are on the rise. With help from people like you, we can help to create a Star Trek like future. We need you Will. Please stay.

        1. Star Trek is a fantasy. Your religious faith is in science fiction. You believe human cleverness will solve all problems and create paradise on earth.
          Your religion is total BS. Human cleverness causes a thousand times more problems than it solves.
          Atheists think nature is mindless. They are smarter than nature, so they can f-k around with it and everything will just get better. They can mess around with genetic engineering, and no horrific nightmare scenarios will result.
          You are wrong wrong wrong.

          1. Dude, Will is suicidal and you don’t seem to give a fuck about him. If this is Christian compassion, then you really do have a problem. Star Trek is a fantasy… just like Christianity. The difference is that Star Trek is a very positive fantasy that is quite inspiring. Plus, with human cleverness, we are making that fantasy a reality. Cell phones are really just Star Trek communicators. iPads are Star Trek datapads. We are starting to explore space, respect diversity, and treat women as equals. We are getting closer to warp speed technology and transporter technology. Yes, clever human scientists are working on those things right now.

            Nature is what it is. Our planet has evolved as it has and will continue to do so. If you don’t live how clever humans fuck around with nature, turn off your air-conditioning, heaters, etc. That’s human cleverness fucking with nature right there. Sure, we will have set backs and sometimes things will go horribly wrong, but science thrives on errors and advances from them. That’s human cleverness.

            I feel sorry for you Believer. You seem to hate yourself and humanity. Maybe you should seem some professional help from a flawed human. It might be better an perfect help from an imaginary deity. Just a thought.

    18. I’ve carefully read through all of these comments – and haven’t seen one actual answer to the question posed. The question requested a solution to the suicide problem (instead of a defense of the atheist worldview’s veracity.) The closest answers here point toward an appreciation for family and the good things in life and are cavalierly voiced from a position of luxury, as suicidal people often do not have these things. The real answers to this questions would provide not just a normative outlook – but what to look to when SHIT GETS HARD.

      So it seems you want to preach the atheist gospel – but what’s conspicuously absent is a provision of a replacement worldview to which your converts can turn WHEN THE SHIT HITS THE FAN. Not just when it’s easy, but WHEN IT’S HARD.

      I have a feeling that (though you would like not to admit it) – your unspoken prescriptive answer in these situations would actually be to commit suicide, for such people. Either that – or it seems you have accepted the morals of the major religions without acknowledging whence they came.

      1. Why do atheists have to make up a worldview to replace your made up worldview? No, We just have to point out that your worldview is bullshit. Moving on to the suicide issue, there are plenty of things to live for… See my most recent post (http://www.skepticink.com/dangeroustalk/2013/08/14/life-and-afterlife-the-meaning-in-it-all/).

        But there is of course a time in a person’s life when death is desirable. I have no problem with assisted suicide in many situations. But once you kill yourself, there is no turning back so I think it is prudent to try to live life first before taking the step of ending it. You can always kill yourself tomorrow, but you can’t unkill yourself tomorrow. Think about it.

      1. People are what we are. It is my hope that atheists, like all people will be there for each other in good times and in bad times. But it really depends on the people. Right now, the greater community of reason is growing and we are forming a support system to help each other in good times and in bad times just as churches sometimes do.

    19. ? 4 the atheist

      ?
      4 the atheist

      I want u to consider,as men if we just
      have a

      opinion,that neither know what is
      true.

      Men who have religion still win over
      the atheistic point of view

      If I die&Iam right I WIN!If I
      die&u are right I WIN!

      Why?I lived my life with a greater hope
      now&reward at the end,even if I live with a false joy

      Atheist have no hope now or joy at the
      end just blackness so really who wins?

      All religion if they are right u
      LOSE,if u are right u LOSE.Atheism produces hopelessness in life.

      JClives

    20. I have many suicidal thoughts running through my head, it has nothing to do with god I guess, but deadly loneliness

      1. The Universe is a vast and lonely place. We lucky enough to live in a world filled will people. Many of them are also lonely. Go out into that world and find people who like the same things you like and like those things together. People are social animals and the more we surround ourselves with solitude the more empty we feel inside. If you need help, please see someone. Depression can be a medial issue and it is nothing to be embarrassed about. We don’t get embarrassed when we see a doctor for a broken arm, and we shouldn’t be embarrassed to see a doctor about depression either. I hope you stay with us Raul.

    21. I don’t have nothing against atheism everyone deserves to be respected. but through this we can see being an atheist it’s not the good thing . I do agree Christianity is bad in some way. and being atheist is also bad because more people intent to commit suicide

          1. The point, if I interpreted this correctly, is that Christian hate towards atheists, LGBT, and other people who don’t believe what they do, can cause suiside.

            1. Then it should follow that atheists, lgbtq and other people who hate Christians and don’t believe what Christians do, can cause Christians to commit suicide. Or does this logic fail when it comes to Christians? Come on now, let’s get real. Something else is at work, you need to find out what it is and stop blaming Christians. Black people committ suicide less than white people, even though they have been hated by most other races for centuries. And please stop with the rhetoric. Disagreeing with your beliefs does not equate to hate.

            2. Yeah, it is really hard for black people to come out black, lol. The problem here is that religious believers often verbally and physically threaten gays and atheists. Just look at what happened in Orlando last weekend. A religious fanatic shot up a nightclub willed with gay people. The nightclub was one of the few places gays could go and not feel afraid and now they feel afraid. Many are constantly in hiding. The shooter himself may have even been gay and because of the religious rhetoric, he hated himself so much that he committed suicide and took out 50 other people with him.

              I was recently at the Reason Rally in DC and it was a great experience for me as an atheist because I didn’t have to hide my lack of belief in deities. Try taking a moment to see the world through someone else’s shoes. If Christians just “disagreed” with atheists or gays, that wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that so many Christians say horrible things about gays and atheists and some Christians even get violent toward us.

              I friend of mine once told me a story about how he was at a party and someone asked him what church he went to. He told the person very politely that he was an atheist and didn’t go to church. The Christian got violent and tried to start a fight. Lucky other people stepped in and prevented the fight. But that is the type of thing that sticks in people’s minds. It creates an atmosphere of fear and causes anxiety and depression.

            3. Staks. Sorry for my late response but i was dealing with the logic the original comment. It is a weak argument.
              Whether black people can come out black is irrelevant. The point is, the black race is the most hated of all races, even now, and there is no great suicide problem.
              As far as Orlando. It was not a gay thing. I watched the interviews. He was letting black people out. The media turned it into that.
              I think homosexuality is sin. Adultery likewjse. Are adulterers committing suicide? The LGBT want people to say its not sin, but sin is sin. We all have choices to make regarding sin. Repent and live or die in ones sin.

              I have been cursed out by lgbt and athiests likewise. They are about the two rudest set of folks you can find. Check youtube. No matter how i try to have a decent discussion, i usually get hate and anger.

              As far as Christians saying means thinvs to you and the lgbt. I apologize. They have no idea what they are doing. They are not walking in love and they need to stop it. I would have no issue with you telling me you were an athiest. I would love you same way and hapefully we could talk.
              The problem at lot of times is cultural Christianity. Its not real. Many of them have never actually met Christ. Its more of religious excercises. So, no real change has taken place.

              Sorry about what happened to your friend That dude did not speak for Christ. That is shameful, to say the least. The Christians i know do not act like this. I doubt many of those who abuse the lgbt and athiests are really saved. Its unChristlike.

              Blessings!

    22. The odd thing is, if we’re talking about reality rather than platitudes, research shows spirituality thickens the cortex; perhaps as a result of meditation. (Dr Myrna Weissman, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University)l

      Meditation also increases the production of telomerase, which extends the telomeres and tends to increase the reproductive span of human cells. It doesn’t stop there: prayer has been shown to increase vagal tone – a solid measurement of the parasympathetic nervous system and a person’s psychological health in the face of setbacks and frustration (Barbara Frederickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina).

      Further, acts of generosity and gratitude stimulate the production of oxytocin from the supraoptical nucleus; oxytocin is vital for brain and body health, since apart from its actions on “every major bodily system” it also acts also as a neurotransmitter. Though anyone can partake of these emotions, it is only religions which have gone as far as to incorporate gratitude as part of the everyday routine, via rituals and observances.

      Fasting, on the face of it a pointless ritual, has been shown to accelerate the neuronal chemistry, giving better ability to make decisions, which explains why the disciples routinely fasted a day before making important ones. Their intuitive understanding, or the intuitive understanding encoded in their scriptures, was just as useful as if it had been scientifically arrived at – even more so, as they were willing to put it into practice.

      An atheist may well consider himself above the believer in intelligence, but the condescending attitude of many of them, evidenced in their online debates (“you are at best disingenuous.. at worst, very disingenuous..” “this is a laughingly ridiculous comment..” &c) seems to put them, in emotional maturity at least, some steps further back than they would like to admit if they consider themselves superior to those they debate with – remembering that others have much the same everday problems and struggles as they, and are after all only expressing an opinion.

      Atheists might also look down upon the archaic forms of some religions, but many seem unaware of the positive aspects of healthy spirituality emerging not from the church, but from the laboratory, or might struggle, as Alain de Botton said in his book, “Religion for Atheists”, to convert these useful scientific data into a new life. I offered to send that same book to an atheist reader of mine who at first agreed enthusiastically to review it; after consulting friends she later – without having read it – wrote sniffingly that such books were nonsense and she preferred to live in the real world. To each their own, I guess?

      1. Please link to these studies. Every study I have seen has shown that prayer has no significant affect on health and in some cases actually a negative affect. You can read my article on prayer in my Atheism 101 section. Meditation on the other hand has had some affect, but it has nothing to do with any deities. Generosity also has an affect and again has nothing to do with any deities. There is no supernatural force that makes people better when they give. It is all in the natural world. This really just comes back down to community, not deities. If your argument is that atheists should form communities with each other, then I agree with you on that. But if your argument is that God bestows blessings on those who pray to him, then the evidence just doesn’t support that. The whole point of my article is that atheist communities need to start reaching out to those in our community who are struggling with depression and to make the transition from theism to atheism easier for those who are struggling.

        I don’t think religious people are stupid and I even wrote an article about that. I do think you are wrong and dangerously wrong at that. Part of the reason why many atheists are in psychological pain has to do with the way religious believers treat atheists both physically and psychologically. I made that clear in the article.

        1. At no time did I suggest that any deity was prepared to intercede in the comings and goings of an ordinary person. I don’t believe I even mentioned God. But since you do mention it, the idea of a God as an embodiment of some kind of colossal intelligence will depend on the mind of the believer, and the non-believer, since at least one atheist told me that she can’t believe in God because an old man on a hill could not have created the universe. I’m sure everyone would agree with that.

          Since, as the mind of man evolves, it must be evolving to a superior form of consciousness by slight degrees, the concept of God becomes a reflection of individual capacity for purely abstract thought, and perhaps also their willingness to concede that human intelligence in a universe 14bn years old is not likely to be the supreme form of it – as we have had at the very most 4 million years since the departure from the animal world. Einstein’s God is unlikely to have much in common with Paleolithic man’s.

          Dawkins himself, an atheist above everything, has said there is an excellent case to be made for a pre-big bang intelligence. But the idea of God is a personal one and has no bearing on what I mentioned about the biological reaction to thought. The body and the mind are so closely linked that it seems impossible to draw the line between one and the other. Recently when a medical team tried to draw blood from my veins I had become so tense waiting for their arrival that every vein, when pierced, completely failed to emit any blood. My arms had even grown cold with fear. Once they had relaxed me, they had success.

          So the idea that the body might react on many levels to a prevailing mental attitude is common sense, and hardly a dangerous idea. To say, as you do, that an idea could be dangerous is actually to affirm that the problem of individual belief is central, and that some people are mentally unstable enough that an idea from someone else could put them into difficulty. We need to look at the mind of the suicide, and not try to find a scapegoat out in the groups holding an opposite belief system.

          The article regarding the vagal tone was in New Scientist, July 13th 2013. “High vagal tone” correlates with empathy and therefore better relationships, better working memory and attention span, and increases ability to produce insulin, regulate blood glucose and supress inflammation – so much so that low vagal tone is strongly associated with dying from cardiovascular disease.

          Militant atheism, from the jeering Penn and Teller to the angry denouncement of a scientist such as Rupert Sheldrake – who has enough experimental data to back up everything he says – is evidence of an arrogant attitude every bit as bad as in the fundamentalist book burner. I can’t see the difference between a smug atheist or a smug Christian. They’re both intensely annoying. If atheism has a suicide problem, it stands to reason that mental resilience is the problem, since we all have problems in life and many of them are the same for believer and non believer alike: problems of bankruptcy or illness or bereavement or facing the future without a job are far more catastrophic than whether a religious person has criticised me for being an atheist or an atheist criticised me for being a believer.

          So pinning suicide on the attitude of others just dodges the issue and makes the problem someone else’s, instead of the sufferer’s. Depression, which I also experienced for many years, does not come from societal acceptance. Some people even thrive on being different. Depression is an internal chemical state perhaps triggered by but not related to external events. Stephen Fry, for example, did an excellent show on depression and found one of Britain’s top neuroscientists had sectioned herself to prevent suicide. I believe she recovered via fish oil, maybe because, as in coconut oil, the medium chain fatty acids can be used by neurons as an alternative source of fuel, I don’t know. More intelligent people may be at risk of depression because their brains rely on a higher quality fuel and are more prone to disaster when the stresses of life take their toll on the body’s store of energy. This simple idea has never been suggested, perhaps in the haste to pin the problem on someone else. But Stephen Fry’s breakdown before his opening night in the West End would be typical of such a crisis in the creative, intelligent mind, which in stronger moments could be overcome.

          At the present moment, for example, I have cancer, and a few months ago was given no more than a year and a half to live. My resilience comes not from a belief in God but a belief that the biology of the body is an ordered place which has arisen in an ordered universe. The idea that I should spend a year suffering in hospital from chemo (the proposal of my surgeon) seemed ludicrous to me, especially when I discovered the mechanism behind MDR tumours – their exposure to chemotherapy! This is a quack medicine which gets much support from the “skeptics”. According to my ultrasound results, so far, I seem to be right.

          Therefore to me it seems very reasonable that the body would have resources to take care of this situation if only they can be activated. If you believe the universe is a random, chaotic place, it seems to me this worldview is far more dangerous than my reciting the results of the scientific evaluation of some religious rituals.

          I don’t think biology distinguishes between religion and atheism. What it does distinguish between, as Bruce Lipton, a former DNA scientist, points out, is the cellular environment maintained and influenced by a worldview. If suicide is the problem, it is pointless looking outside the individual unit to find the cure, whether we are talking about cells or people, and surely every bit of evidence is not a dangerous idea but welcome in this exploration.

          1. Woooow! You certainly put a lot on the table and most of it either has completely nothing to do with this article or is a complete misunderstanding of what I actually wrote. There is also a fair about of argument by authority and other fallacies in there too.

            My central point that I was trying to convey is that prayer doesn’t work… as in no supernatural being answers them. You don’t seem to disagree, so i don’t know what your actual argument was when you said, “Atheists might also look down upon the archaic forms of some religions, but many seem unaware of the positive aspects of healthy spirituality emerging not from the church, but from the laboratory.”

            Aside from the strawman you created and your continued personal attacks on atheists in general, you argument seems to be that spirituality (in the religious sense) works and that atheism fails inn this regard.As I pointed out, those benefits have nothing to do with the supernatural and there is no contradiction in accepting those benefits and lacking the belief in any deities. So I don’t understand your point.

            I do understand that you would rather attack atheism than actually try to help people who might be suicidal… which is what this article is about.

            Yes, people suffer from clinical depression. As I talked about in the article, religious believers in this category have the support system of the church which atheists don’t have. Therefore, atheists in this category probably are at a greater risk of suicide, That is why I am calling for atheists to start building a community as a support network. Many people also suffer from non-clinical depression brought about by difficult situations. Instead of belittling this, you might want to actually acknowledge the elephant in the room. Just a thought.

            1. Maybe the point is that suicde has nothing to do with God or religion but the person’s inner state: and by extension, if a person is going to try and pull someone else away to a different way of thinking, there ought to be some benefit to the recipient. Because otherwise it might be better not to do it at all..

              Even an atheist like de Botton admits atheism has a bleak and unappealing outlook, and the prevailing attitude of infighting and one-upmanship among the more militant types – like the elevatorgate and the Skepchick stuff which hit the press recently – and the appalling, almost pathological wave of hatred and insults which Rebecca Watson was subjected to from her own atheist peers – does nothing to dissuade the public that this is likely to be the way things will stay.

            2. Dude, what is your problem? Of course suicide has nothing to do with God. God doesn’t exist! But just as religious hate toward the LGBT community has led to a rise in suicide in that community, religious hate also has led in part to atheists committing suicide. Also, as I explained in the article, there are quite a few other reasons why some atheists are suicidal and/or depressed. Please read the article you are commenting or re-read it if it has been awhile.

              Second, I outlined the benefit in the article. Plus, whether something is beneficial or not isn’t really the point. The question is whether something is true, not whether it is useful. It is the old pig satisfied vs. Socrates unsatisfied question.

              Third, there are no Popes, priests, or holy people in atheism. DeBotton has no authority and neither does Dawkins or anyone else. The argument by authority just doesn’t hold up. As for deBotton’s comment (which I bet you probably took out of context anyway), I completely disagree. reality is certainly not bleak or unappealing. Just go on YouTube are watch an old Carl Sagan video or something by Neil deGrasse Tyson. They are truly inspiring.

              Fourth, there are no “militant” atheists.

              Fifth, the mainstream press has oversimplified the elevatorgate situation. You really don’t even know anything about that and it is really a non sequiter anyway.that has nothing to do with suicide or this conversation. You attempt to use this as a wedge is really in poor taste considering that divisions within Christianity are far more violent and hateful than any divisions within atheism — which for the record isn’t even a thing that is something to be divided. Both Rebecca Watson and her critics agree that there is no evidence for any deities. That’s all atheism really is.

              Sixth, and more to the point, I still don’t know what your point is other than to insult atheists. You certainly aren’t trying to help those who might be suicidal or depressed to find the help they need. That by the way is the point of this article.

            3. Well, the truth or otherwise of a God is not something anyone can prove or disprove; otherwise the issue would already be settled. The matter is a personal one of belief, and a worldview they are entiteld to hold. Only a fanatic would insist the concept be adopted by someone who resists it, or try and remove it from one who choose to believe. Militant atheists are as real as militant religious zealots. I don’t see any difference between one arrogance and another.

              As for “elevatorgate”, I only saw some of the texts Watson was sent because she seemed to make them freely available, and I recall amidst the horrible insults some did advise her to commit suicide. I’m sure you don’t imagine any group behaving this way is showing signs of a healthy outlook; far from being irrelevant, I think you can easily associate this with the theme of your post.

            4. Here you are using poor reasoning skills. No one can prove or disprove the existence of (any imagined thing) that doesn’t mean that think is justified. No, the burden of proof is always on the person asserting the claim. In this case, the claim is of a deity and in the absence of any credible evidence, the logical position to hold in that on non-belief. This of course has nothing to do with this article, but you brought it up.

              Second, I think you would be hard pressed to find any gun-wielding atheists in modern society that could be compared to the actual gun-wielding Christians who are actually militant. Obviously, no one should tell anyone they should commit suicide in such a manner, but Watson is certainly not the only atheist to have heard that. The difference is that most atheists hear it from religious believers. But again, the whole elevatorgate thing is much more complex and you really don’t know anything about it. Instead, you are pretending like some insults between atheists on Twitter represent all of atheism. Perhaps you haven’t ever watched Fox News, but if you have even heard of that station you might realize that Christianity is far worse things to say about atheists, Muslims, and even other Christians. What kind of outlook do you think that signals? Please!

              The fact is that elevatorgate has nothing to do with this article and you are continually trying to insult atheists rather than actually help those who might be suicidal. I think I have been pretty generous with giving you an opportunity and forum to speak here considering that you have done nothing but insult atheists and go off topic when the topic is actually a pretty sensitive one. If you have something to say that is even remotely helpful to those who might be suicidal, please make that point — otherwise, I am going to consider blocking you so that other people can express their concerns, fears, and troubles in peace.

            5. All I tried to suggest was that many of the observances and rituals involved in practically all religions have been shown (by scientists) to have a biological benefit ranging from enhancing the cortex to generating telomerase to improving vagal tone to generating essential neurotransmitters.

              One of the neurotransmitters generated, oxytocin, is implicated in autism. In some experiments, subcutaneous injections of oxytocin alleviated autistic symptoms for up to two weeks in test subjects. All of this information is available for anyone to find if they look.

              My point was firstly that in trying to pull others away from their religious traditions, a person must be aware of what their friend is likely to be losing, and offer something as valuable to replace it. Otherwise if dealing with a vulnerable individual, they tamper with something that perhaps neither of them understand and accordingly risk inflicting unintended damage. Once you know the biological benefits of certain practices you are in a position to suggest other and perhaps even better ways of living.

              Secondly, I tried to say that if certain traditions have a beneficial effect on biology, it may logically explain why those who do not participate in them, or those who are suddenly removed from them are certainly at a higher risk of a mental breakdown (for solid biological reasons) which might relate to the very unfortunate experience of your friend. That’s what I was trying to say, and with that, I thank you for your time and attention and sign off.

          2. On a side note, if you have cancer, get real medical treatment for it! God isn’t going to cure you because you think it is part of his grand design. If that were true, then either no one would die of cancer or you believe that God loves you more than all the other people who have died of cancer. Seriously, get medical treatment!

            1. How patronising, to assume I believe God will cure me because it is part of his grand design, or that he loves me more than anyone else! I can hardly imagine the tiny worldview of someone who first makes up such utter nonsense, and then projects it onto me.

              How on Earth can you possibly know what treatment I receive? What an incredible comment! I’m hardly sure which is worse – having cancer, or getting advice from someone with such appalling insensitivity. Thankfully not all atheists behave like this! But I can see how you guys get your reputation. Every piece of advice delivered with a free insult. Wow!

            2. Actually, I was relying on your own words as far as your treatment. You said, “My resilience comes not from a belief in God but a belief that the biology of the body is an ordered place which has arisen in an ordered universe. The idea that I should spend a year suffering in hospital from chemo (the proposal of my surgeon) seemed ludicrous to me, especially when I discovered the mechanism behind MDR tumours – their exposure to chemotherapy!”
              You flat out told me that you reject the medically prescribed treatment and when I tell you that I think that is a bad idea, you fain insult and cry that I couldn’t possibly know what treatment you have had. I’m just relying on YOUR word. If you say that you rejected Chemo, than I am going to assume that you are telling me the truth and that you have not received Chemo. If that is an insult, I don’t see it. But whatever dude. Just please seek the proper medical treatment. I’m sorry if that advise insults you.

            3. There are more kinds of medicine than chemotherapy – a practice that in 60 years has created untold suffering. Saying I have some weird belief that a deity will step in and implying this would be because I am a preferential creature was absurd, and quite insulting.

              Some kind of people do go about trying to stamp their ideas on others, accompanied by insults or put-downs, and the inevitable result of this has to be rejection by society at large, as people – whether wrong or right – resent doing anything by force. Perhaps this isolation could be the root of many mental problems, I don’t know. I only tried to point out some aspects of religious culture which – biologically speaking – promote biological health. Take it up with New Scientist if you like – I thought it was very open minded of them!

            4. I don’t have a problem with what New Scientist had to say on the matter (to my knowledge — I haven’t read the article), my problem is with your implication that prayer works when it doesn’t.

              As far as I am currently aware, the only treatment for Cancer is Chemo. It isn’t a great treatment and it does cause a lot of suffering, but currently it is the only medically recommended treatment that I am aware of. I just had a friend who beat breast cancer and she suffered a lot, but she no longer has cancer. If there is another medically approved alternative, I am not aware of it. Anything that has not gone through the rigorous medical testing is quack medicine. It it worked, it would pass the medical tests and hospitals would be using it instead of the very costly and physically demanding alternative which is chemo.

              You stated that it is because of your belief in God that you also believe, “Therefore to me it seems very reasonable that the body would have resources to take care of this situation.” Following that logic, I stated that If that were true, then either no one would die of cancer or you believe that God loves you more than all the other people who have died of cancer.

              I once again suggest to you that you seek actual medical treatment for your cancer. If actual doctors suggest to you that you should go through Chemo, then I suggest you follow their advise. If you find my suggestion insulting, oh well. It is what it is. I hope your cancer remains in remission, but if it comes back, please consider Chemo or whatever the medical professionals suggest.

            5. I think anyone who recommends chemo, when not a single double blind study of it has ever been performed, when doctors themselves refuse to consider it or refuse to consider administering it to their families, when its success rate has barely changed in 50 years, is not in full possession of the facts. As far as “quack” medicine goes, chemo really takes the cake.

              In America I met women who had been through chemo and had organs removed “with clear margins”. After a brief respite they were told the cancer “had returned”. From where? And now the tumours were multiple drug resistant. This kind of “treatment” is a crime – the women were now doomed. In fact a recent, carefully designed study in Norway covering 100,000 women proved conclusively that 22% of tumours regress naturally, on their own, without any medical intervention whatsoever. The ACS coudn’t refute it.

              The molecular biology of it is simple and already understood. But the American Cancer Society is funded by pharma giants like AstraZenaca which dictate what they can and can’t put on their leaflets. It’s a big money operation, and has been ever since the AMA pushed cigarettes in their magazine, wiith ads using actors dressed up as doctors, long after the link with cigarettes was well known; they even threatened to blackball any researchers writing about immunotherapy.

              These massive profit centres rely on people to repeat the same old claims because they have no proof whatsoever. My own GP, when he saw the ultrasound scans taken only 9 days apart, looked embarrassed, and said, “we can only suggest what we are trained to suggest.” Follow the money.

              As long as “skeptics” obligingly tout the party line – declaring anything non-chemical to be “quackery” without ever researching the molecular biology, the farce will continue. If you care to, you can see the molecular result of chemo for yourself and draw your own conclusions as to the genetic engineering power of the tumour cell, and its incredible reaction to an assault by a man made chemical.

              http://www.rcsb.org/pdb/101/motm.do?momID=95

            6. “God isn’t going to cure you because you think it is part of his grand design.”

              Lol I love comments like this because they show such a colossally comical misunderstanding of Christianity. Since when did we ever think it was part of God’s grand design to cure us from cancer??

            7. First of all, not all Christians believe the same thing. My comment was specifically responding to a Christian who does not agree with you as indicated by the word, “if.”

              Second, if you believe that everything is part of God’s divine plan, then cancer must also be part of that plan. Therefore, your God wants people to suffer and die from cancer. That doesn’t seem like a very nice deity to me. Just say’n.

    23. “About a year ago a friend of mine died. He was the first person I take credit for de-converting away from theism to atheism. ”

      And you don’t feel you have any responsibility for this? Who are you to “de-convert” anyone? If you hadn’t he’d probably still be alive, if it were suicide. Obviously misery loves company.
      Please stop trying to “help” Christians. You might be helping them into an early grave.
      Love, Donna Marie

    24. 1. ofcourse they have no meaning and beleive their life is a pointless accident 2. i still had emotoinal health issues despite a beleif in god and a happy family and finally please don’t reply i’m not trying to start a fight just giving my opinion

        1. first i’m very sorry about this it was at a darker point in my life and that’s not an excuse but this was a long time ago. second i don’t believe this now and i do regret posting this

    25. None of this surprises me in the least. Research shows pretty plainly that those of us who believe in God are far less likely to “off ourselves” than those of you who don’t. (And no “where are your sources?” replies, please. Don’t have time or space to put them here. Google it. It’s true. It’s out there.)

      I’ve known many atheists in my life who are/were fine people. So this is not meant to be a personal knock against atheists.

      But the truth is that God exists. Evidence? We are the evidence. In this vast world of ours that has been home to millions of species of life forms, only WE have accomplished what we have. We are so unique in this world that it isn’t funny. No other species of life on this planet has even come close to accomplishing what we have. No, of course we’re not perfect. But we are very unique.

      Do you guys think this happened by accident? That we’re just some random anomaly? Come on. What are the odds of that? Practically impossible. The only thing to which I can attribute our unique standing in the world is that there’s a God who willed it so.

      I said earlier that we’re not perfect. Life isn’t perfect. There are setbacks, disappointments, and even horrible tragedies. But it’s faith in God that empowers a person to handle it. We know there’s something better out there. We know that life here on earth isn’t the be-all and end-all of everything. We know that life on this earth isn’t going to be pleasant all the time. So we’re strengthened in our ability to handle it.

      That’s why, by and large, we who believe don’t take our own lives with anywhere near the frequency that nonbelievers do. We know that however bad life gets, it’s still precious — and we have a Divine Reason for that. Something that’s obviously lacking in atheists’ lives.

      1. “But the truth is that God exists. Evidence? We are the evidence. In this vast world of ours that has been home to millions of species of life forms, only WE have accomplished what we have. We are so unique in this world that it isn’t funny. No other species of life on this planet has even come close to accomplishing what we have. No, of course we’re not perfect. But we are very unique.”

        Weak Anthropomorphic Principle. That and the Law of How-We-Can’t-Really-Comprehend-Large-Numbers

    26. No surprise here – without God your life is meaningless. You think you were formed from stars by a chaotic explosion, as if chaotic explosions cause life to form lol. Atheism requires an irrational leap of faith. Somewhere in your soul, you fear an eternity separate from the living God. This is a very dark place. I’m sorry for you, maybe you should change your way of thinking.

      1. Wow, another shining example of “Christian Love.” Between this comment and the other comment you left, you must have gone through just about every logical fallacy and failed Christian argument there it. You should really Google that stuff before posting it.

        This is a very serious blog post that deals with people who are in real pain and yet you have attempted to use it to push your hateful beliefs.

        For the record, the Big Bang is a FACT. It happened and we have seen it happen. We have literally gone back in time and watched it happening. There is an old saying that if you sit ten million monkeys in front of ten million computers, at some point they might produce an actual book. Evolution is much less chaotic than that. Please learn science. Understand how evolution works. Understand why we know what we know.

        Ted, this blog post isn’t really the place for this kind of discussion, but please feel free to check out some of my other blog posts and we can have a conversation about evolution and the Big Bang on a more appropriate post. This post is dealing with people who are genuinely suffering and who might really need help.

    27. Speaking as a person who has wrestled with my beliefs having bounced around from atheism, agnosticism back to theism id like to offer my two cents. The practice of christianity for me is a emotionally joyful and fulfilling experience. It provides a spiritual nourishment so to speak. In a practical sense being able to say whatever is on your mind in prayer to a loving god that you believe in is a very powerful tool for emotional health, an advanced level of meditation. The fellowship and support church provides is an added bonus. Perhaps this is part of the reason why numerous studies show that religious people live an average 7 or 8 years longer than their non-religious counterparts. Admittedly im not a “good christian” i like to sleep in on sundays, maybe watch soccer or football i drink etc etc, im a sinner, im not perfect, but my core beliefs improve my life it does not detract from it in any sense or prevent me from being objective about science, fact and reason(in my own opinon). I wouldn’t expect someone who sincerely believes there is no god and religion is bullshit to all of a sudden become church goers. But religion and spirituality whatever its based on existed throughout time all over the world in many different ways. Some beliefs fell into extinction but instead of staying gone, they were replaced with others or changed or grew the evidence of the consistency of that says too me that there is something within those constructs that we feel a need or that is good for us. I would say that religion was and is much more than man trying to understand the world, its something very complex with many benefits. Even places that aren’t religious in the abrahamic religion sense like asia often have traditions that provide many of the benefits that religion does for adherents in the western world. Even if you believed a spirit or a soul were some sort of emotional construct rather than supernatural and that it ceased to exist when life is extinguished rather than went on to live forever. Its not good to neglect it. Where atheists believe there is nothingness, we believers, believe there is love, hope and redemption. Logically speaking it doesn’t take much to see how one offers much more to a person than the other especially in the darkest of times. If i truly believed there was no god, i would be an atheist, ive just had many experiences to the contrary, but beyond that this passage really spoke to me ”

      Matthew 7:15-20King James Version (KJV)

      15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

      16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

      17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

      18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

      19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

      20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

      The only fruit that atheism provided me was emptiness and the fact that the morals of the future absent the church will be taught by the greed of the corrupt corporate media and the 1 percenters looking to drain every last penny from those below them on the financial ladder. So im a christian, im not trying to push my beliefs on anyone but you need to find something…

    28. Let’s be very clear here- atheism is a religion. If you can SOMEHOW bring yourself to believe in abiogenesis, you are as religious a nut as anyone anywhere. Why are people SO uncomfortable simply admitting, that when it comes to the literal study of the material universe WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE what is going on.

      Until humanity begins to acknowledge data beyond electrical signals interpreted by our brain from the 5 senses, we will never evolve. But then again we don’t need to, as soon as the singularity happens machines will be in the driver’s seat. If all you are willing to study is the material world- you’re agnostic, because it simply has no answers. It can show us “effects” but we will never find the cause.

      1. I don’t think atheism means what you think it means. All atheism is, is the lack of belief in deities. One can be an atheist without claiming to have all the answers to life. In fact, most atheists don’t claim to have all the answers… your thinking of theists. Most of us just claim to have hypothesis’s and theories supported by science. As for abiogenesis, I don’t know. It seems like the most likely explanation give what we know, but right now we probably don’t have the evidence to call that a theory.

    29. I believe… I’m runnin’ down a dream, that never would come to me. Workin’ on a mystery. Goin’ wherever it leads. I’m runnin’ down a dream.

      The best science I have seen related to afterlife is from NDE research and from a group of quantum physicists led by Daniel Hankins and the Light Consciousness Theory. They both support the idea of afterlife and a deity.

      I have my own theory that atheism is based on the absence of the desire to be part of an afterlife with a deity. And in contrast, belief is based on the desire to continue to exist after this life. It can be argued that human desire is a natural appetite present in every human being, yet we are still free to nurture our appetites or to discourage them.

    30. Yes, i agree with your article. Becoming an atheist took away all meaning for me, and certainly lead me down a self-destructive path. I’ve never believed in god, but I did believe in an afterlife. I believed I was born because there were lessons my soul needed to learn. Even awful days were, to me, a lesson in loss–a lesson in suffering that would help expand my capacity for empathy. But now I look around and see myself and everyone around me as walking maggot food. I don’t understand why I should bother at all. Why strive for success? Why invest in relationships? None of it matters. I will be dead and it will be as if I never were. You will be dead and it will be as if you never were. The idea of learning and working to “better the human race” is laughable to me, since one day the human race will be gone and it will be as though it never was. I once wanted a family because I too wanted to guide young souls as I believed my parents guided me. But now I think having a child would be just about the cruelest, most selfish thing I could ever do–forcing a being in existence just so it can fade again into nothingness, all for my own delusional search for meaning and love. I find myself completely apathetic to life. I don’t think I shall kill myself, but it makes no difference to me if by chance I live or die tomorrow.

      1. You don’t agree with the article, because that is not what the article is saying at all. In fact, you completely missed the entire point of the article.

        Do you do anything ever for enjoyment? Do you watch TV or go to the movies? Why? TV shows will be over in a half hour or an hour. Movies usually are two hours. So why would you watch these things knowing they will end? What is the point?

        We do it for enjoyment. Life is a movie. Who cares if it ends, enjoy it now! Live your life; it is the only one you have!

      2. Dear Guest,

        Your comments and experience remind me of the stories Viktor Frankl related in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning.

        In it Frankl talks about the brokenness of people and how the German captors fostered hopelessness by assigning meaningless tasks, like moving a pile of rubble from one spot to another, only to have them move the like back to the original location.

        Ultimately life is not a movie to be enjoyed. While we may gain some satisfaction from tasks, it is not why we were created.

        Frankl talks in the book about a woman laying in her death bed recalling her life. Ultimately it was her relationships with her loved ones that have her life meaning. Relationships with friends, family, their love that filled her thoughts and brought joy to her mind. It is how we are made. To love and be loved.

        In my case, the only constant in my life, the only thing that has not failed me is the love I have received from God. And it is available to and for all. It is the balm that soothes the soul and quiets the mind at night.

        That love has come to me through many others in my life and I have been blessed from a very young age to be surrounded and bathed in God’s love.

        I know that is not everyone’s experience and I wish it were. I also know many who have found that love later and it is still available to you and to everyone.

        God’s love is. God is Love.

        He is with you. I pray you reach out and feel his touch and invite him to make himself known to you.

        Peace he gives to us. Peace he leaves with us.

    31. What an extremely ignorant point of view! so you have the proof of atheism being unnatural and harmful, yet to twist it to make a conclusion that is comfortable to you. Since atheism leads to depression and suicide, it is in stark contradiction with Life. It causes displacement. No, you can’t excuse that with “the world is evil and atheists are right in being depressed”. Anything that causes depression (here, atheism) is separating humans from their actual purpose (whatever that may be). Theistic people found the better explanations for the world and its ways and have a purpose. Atheists don’t. Obviously the former are smarter. By all means, being at peace with the world and seeing the good in the bad and eliminating depression (you want to call it ignorance, haha) is the better way. Don’t hate on people who get past the hardship and find the sweetness of life. It’s pretty shameful to dismiss real science and real proof of spirituality and refuse to see how atheism & depression are destructive and pathetic and completely against Life. Atheism is not only a disbelief in gods. It is hatred and ignorance. It’s the illusion of knowing, when in fact is means just stopping at the knowledge that feels comfortable to small minds. No go on and hate.

      1. Wow! So you are claiming that no theists have been diagnosed with depression or ever get depressed at all? Sorry, but that just doesn’t match up with reality. What I am saying is that anyone can get depression and that everyone get be depressed. The hate and intolerance of many religious fundamentalists often cause atheists to be depressed. As far as clinical depression goes, churches have acted as a support network to help religious members who have depression. Atheism is just starting to get organized and so we are just started to create that type of support network. This is something we can learn from the religious (one of the very few things).

        You say that we have the illusion of knowledge, but that just seems like projection to me. Using science we rely on evidence and even then, we continue to hold the door open for new evidence. But the religious claim to know with absolute certainty things that they cannot possibly know and that there is absolutely no evidence to support. I could be wrong and their might be a god or maybe even many gods. I am open to changing my view if religious believers could just present some valid evidence for your claim.

    32. OK. Can you explain WHY THE UNIVERSE CAME TO EXIST AT ALL – IF THERE IS NOTHING THAT WAS ALREADY EXISTING THAT CAUSED IT TO BEGIN TO EXIST?

      Perhaps you will be THE VERY FIRST atheist who will attempt to tackle this question? Or are you going to turn out to be a IGNORANT COWARD like the rest and DODGE IT? Hahahahahahahahahaha!

      1. First, your comment is off topic from the post. Second, I wouldn’t be the first. Lawrence Krauss wrote a great book about this. Try using Google before posting stupid comments. It might save you some embarrassment.

        1. I hope you realise that you’re, in part, RESPONSIBLE for the DEATH of your friend! You MISLED him and his blood is ON YOUR HEAD!

          1. First, that is a very mean thing to say. I will chalk that up to #ChristianLove.
            Second, you don’t know my friends or why they killed themselves. I do. One was an atheist long before me and the other who I de-converted, who may have killed himself, died for more complicated set of reasons I had nothing to do with.

    33. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! You mean the book by Lawrence Krauss that claims THE UNIVERSE came out of NOTHINGNESS, eh? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! These STUPID atheists! AND YOU BELIEVED HIM – WITHOUT QUESTION – JUST BECAUSE IT’S A WAY FOR YOU TO AVOID ACKNOWLEDGING THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, eh? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

      By the way, you know Lawrence Krauss ALSO claims that 2+2=5 – for large values of 2? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! That’s the fellow you’re relying on? Hahahahahahaha! And you wonder why you atheists are DEPRESSED after stuffing your minds with such UTTER NONSENSE? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

      1. Christians should try actually reading books instead of praying to them. If you read Krauss’s book, you would know that he goes through the history of why we know what we know. As far as the 2+2=5 thing, I have no idea where that comes from, but I can only assume you misrepresented him.

    34. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Reading books DOES NOT BRING YOU KNOWLEDGE, bonehead! It just acquaints you with the PERSONAL OPINIONS of the AUTHORS of those books! If you want knowledge, OBSERVE and THINK – FOR YOURSELF! DON’T FEED OFF THE INTELLECTUAL DROPPINGS OF OTHERS!

      I HAVE READ Krauss’ book and KNOW that it is UTTER NONSENSE! I’m NOT the only physicist who has told him so either! It’s been reviewed VERY UNFAVOURABLY by MANY expert commentators! And here he is talking about 2+2 being equal to 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nDAkKRvaks

      Your MONUMENTAL IGNORANCE is clear in your claim that you think that Christians pray to books! You’re ALREADY GUILTY of a MOST HEINOUS MORAL CRIME that puts your soul in MORTAL JEOPARDY! Continuing in your present direction will GUARANTEE a COMPLETE LOSS OF HOPE for you! THAT IS WHY YOU’RE DEPRESSED – STOP BLAIMING EVERYONE ELSE AND EVERYTHING ELSE FOR THAT!

      1. Wow, first of all, the video cut him off mid-sentence!!! Maybe you should have let him finish his thought.
        Second, again, his book outlines WHY we know what we know. You claim you read it, but if you did, you would KNOW that.
        Third, I love how you RANDOMLY capitalize words as IF that SOMEHOW makes your bullshit true.
        FOURTH, I’m not depressed. You have a reading problem.

      2. where did you read that he is in the most heinous moral crime area and that his “soul” is in jeopardy? From a ‘book” perhaps…talk about hypocrisy…hahahahahaha

    35. Two thoughts because I only read about two sentences before I was completely disgusted.

      I had a friend commit suicide just out of high school. Knowing atheists have a higher suicide rate, and then “taking credit” for “de-converting” them to atheism turns my stomach. Like saying “Look at me! I increased the odds this guy would off himself”.

      Second, your comment that people are either high on Jesus or high on the wonders of the universe speaks to a false dichotomy and is the type of all or nothing thinking that can lead people to unhappiness, dissatisfaction with life, depression, and increased thoughts of hopelessness and helplessness.

      My being “high on Jesus” dramatically INCREASED my appreciation of the wonders of the universe.

      I think you have a drastically distorted understanding of faith and having a relationship with God.

      I will be praying you may have a real conversion experience and we can read about that.

      May I suggest reading the gospel of John? And suggest reading/listening to it in reverse order by chapter?

      There is an app called Biblegateway. You can select a chapter and then listen to it. I believe it will help you to understand who Jesus is and why he came and how much God loves you.

      We all suffer loss, and it is not God’s intention for that to drive us away from his love for us. God is not responsible for our losses. They are a part of life in a fallen world.

      God is responsible for loving us and giving us hope in a broken world. A hope that comforts the afflicted and helps those who know him to get through their dark times, to see the sun in a bright blue sky once more.

      It is not a fantasy. It is the only true reality of life.

      1. You have posted a lot here and I want to address this comment because I think this is an important topic. But first, I would like to thank you Paul for taking the time to comment.

        Yes, I take credit for de-converting people. I believe in educating people about reality. Paul, you are in a cult and I want you to break free. Commenting on atheist blogs is a great first step. It is exposure to new ideas and new people. So I think that’s great. You missed the whole point of this blog post. Yes, atheists have a greater rate of suicide but this is because of many different factors. Among them are the way atheists are created by Christians!!! The depression new atheists have as a result of having to hide their atheism from family, friends, and co-workers out of fear FROM Christians! The lack of support systems in place (which atheist groups are just recently starting to put together), and quite possibly that people with depression might be less prone to religious belief from the start. But that is speculation on my part.

        I certainly need not intend for my comment on being high to be a dichotomy. Obviously there are people high on other religions besides Christianity and obviously people can be high on illicit substances.

        Being high on Jesus is dangerous. You can’t increase your appreciation of the wonders of the universe if you deny the reality of the universe. I don’t think you realize just how amazingly large the universe actually is. I mean think about it; human beings will never ever visit all the planets in the universe and yet you believe God created the entire universe just for us? It seems like a huge waste.

        I don’t think my understanding of faith or the relationship Christians have with their imaginary friend is at all distorted. I have talked to hundreds of Christians or various strips and have a pretty good understanding of how different Christians view their faith.

        I am certainly open to a “real conversion experience,” but if God were real, it either would have happened already or he wants me to be an atheist.

        Which brings me to my next point, you are attempting to take agency away from God for all the bad things and give him credit for all the good things. That is nonsensical. If God existed, then everything would be as he wills it to be. If there is a hurricane that kills people, it would be God’s fault. If someone goes on a killing spread, it would be God’s fault. If I am an atheist who is to be tortured for all eternity, it would be God’s fault. How could it not be?

        1. Thanks for your reply and honest comments. I appreciate your response to my post and to others who are struggling with thoughts of harming themselves. Your concern for folks in dire straits in your community and trying to help them is commendable.

          Everything else aside, I truly appreciate that as an atheist you are not opposed to the idea that you may have an encounter or experience with God in the future. I have many atheist friends and I count you as one of them. Considering the fact that it hasn’t happened for you at 39, I had not eaten collard greens until I was over 50. And yet it happened. And God does not want anyone to be an atheist. But all can say no to him. It’s part of life in our little home in the exceedingly massively expanse we call the universe. It is incredible, isn’t it? We don’t understand likely 1% of it, and yet I try to appreciate it’s beauty and majesty every day and every night.

          Peace Staks

    36. There is no “study” that “indicates” atheists complete suicide more often than non atheists and none that I would trust in or put any regard into. WHY? because simply you are relying on someone’s opinion as to whether or not the deceased was an “atheist”. Where would they get that information from? I know many “atheists” who are outwardly atheistic but have had secret beliefs that a god does exist. I also know people who are theistic in their belief but have stated ” there is no god” So please tell me how they acquired their “statistics” to complete their “study”? I wonder if a “christian” or a christian backed organization was involved with this “study”??

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