The latest Reader’s Digest (hey, I’m stuck at my parent’s house with nothing to read!) has an article titled “Why We’re Happy,” and of course the #1 reason listed is “faith.” They cite the General Social Survey and claim 43% of religious folks are happy, compared to only 23% of secular ones (along with a bunch of more specific stats). They conclude by saying “it’s clear that faith is a common value among happy Americans.”
As an atheist, this whole argument got my hackles up. I’ve seen other studies (conducted by religious organizations) make similar claims, and I’m familiar with the great analogy about drunks. Still, while I would assume the nonreligious would be more realistic (rather than delusional) and that would have an effect on a study of happiness (the nonreligious might have a more dim view of the future if we don’t act to save the planet, for example, while the religious don’t care since they’re going to heaven anyway), I find it hard to believe as a group we’re all miserable, and I can’t stand hearing someone religious flaunt these “statistics” around. What can we say to refute these assertions? Are there any other studies with more positive results for us?
Posted: June 21st 2008