Saturday, February 15, 2014

Belief in hell depresses people

Given that religious people are always talking about hell-fire, you'd be forgiven for thinking that they enjoy the idea, maybe even rejoice over the existence of a hell. Apparently not.
After controlling for variables like age, income, education level, religious attendance, and sex, the two researchers again found that belief in Hell was associated with unhappiness while belief in Heaven was associated with happiness.
So why do they do it? Why do they insist on this ill belief in a punitive afterlife that never ends?
“[T]he belief in Hell, and religious malevolence more generally, may contribute to the encouragement of rule following, through the deterrence value of supernatural punishment, but may do so at the cost of well-being,” Shariff and Aknin wrote.

“This creates an intriguing trade-off between the interests of the group, which benefit from the ethical behavior of the group’s members, and the interest of the individual, who shoulders the emotional costs of a society that follows norms out of fear.”
"He was a god-fearin' man." I often hear that said when some religious git dies. To me, it seems like a negative comment about a person who was too fearful to live his life. But religious people see "fear of god" as a plus. Well, too bad. The votes are in. Rather than being healthy, belief in hell is a horrifying notion that takes a toll on believers. Who would have thought the prospect of being burned for all eternity was negative?

I'm sick of religious nitwits telling atheists and gay people that they're going to hell. So it's refreshing to learn that this belief harms them. But in truth, the believers are already in the only hell they'll ever know.

Ditch religion, reclaim your life. Works for me.