Currently, about 29% of American adults identify as “nones” – people who describe themselves as either atheist, agnostic, or as having no religious affiliation. Nearly a third of our adult population has no active relationship with God in any form. And further, one out of every three nones says that they have never even experienced a religious service while growing up.
With that in mind and with such a large population of every group to pull data from, we can ask this question: Are we happier without religion?
Timmerie Geagea spent a segment of Trending answering this question by comparing the ideas propagated by theists and nonthesists.
With such a decline in religious affiliation, we see a direct effect on families, children, and the population. The divorce rate has been in decline in recent years, but only because the marriage rate has plummeted. But without a firm grip on faith or God, who can blame them? Why should anybody get married when two people can just live together, cohabitate, and then leave each other when things don’t work out or when they get bored?
The argument against happy people who cling to religious structure and belief – especially from humanists – stems from criticism that we live in “blissful ignorance”. Humanists think that because we have faith in the supernatural, we’re dumb and our lack of intelligence is what allows us to be happy. We can simply surrender the real problems and suffering of the world to God, and that allows us to live lives of peace. Not quite. While we do offer up our difficulties to the Lord, it is not out of a place of stupidity, or reliance on ignorance.
We are still responsible for facing the hardships of life, but it’s much easier when you have God on your side. Who wouldn’t choose to have an all-loving, all-merciful, and all-powerful God guiding them through life?
A psychologist wrote in the Washington Post that the reason religious people are happier is that their beliefs make them comfortable, give them a sense of well-being, and give their life meaning. Again, close, but not quite. The reason we’re happier is that we trust in God to provide for us. Our sense of well-being comes from the belief that our God is watching over us, even when it doesn’t seem like it, and if we stick close to Our Lord, our reward will be eternal salvation.
A contending study found that people who hold religious beliefs have a much more solid grip on the importance of gratitude, generosity, service, and charitable activity. Theistic belief necessitates a supernatural outlook on the world, the people around you, and the importance of your actions. Gratitude for the blessings that you have leads to paying it forward. And paying it forward is simply a tangible form of apostolate, spreading the Good News of God’s love.
Enlightenment philosophies like yoga and humanism push the idea that you will be happier if you shed the “outdated and often discriminatory beliefs” of theology. Be independent. Think critically for yourself without the weight of God or faith. Be “free”. These arguments are predicated on the age-old perspective that religion is a set of chains intended to restrict you from doing what you want.
Not so. Faith in God is what gives you the capacity to experience happiness and fulfillment while here on earth. Nothing worth having comes without sacrifice. Christianity and Catholicism show us that rejecting hedonism and indulgence opens us up to so much more: a divine love that you cannot experience unless you know God.
“The human person is created for what? Communion. You and I were created to be with one another. We were created not only for the community of people that we are around here on earth but we were created to be in communion with God. This is fundamental. No person can deny the fact that they were created and born into a family.”
The conception of each and every human person necessitates, in some form or another, the communion of two people. And the conception of each and every person is an imitation of the eternal love between the three persons of the Trinity. We were made by and for communion with one another and with God.
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