I'm starting to doubt if atheism is compatible with science

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DoubtingAtheism's picture
I'm starting to doubt if atheism is compatible with science

I'm starting to doubt atheism. I've come across a twitter account named Devon Shapiro who created a thread of scientific papers on religion and atheism


It seems that scientifically atheism is inferior to religion, and results in things like higher rates of depression, suicide, rape, murder, crime. It causes less happiness, increases drug abuse and alcoholism. I'm starting to think maybe Islam was right in banning atheism, maybe Saudi Arabia has a logical reason for criminalizing and killing atheists.

I was always told that science was the way to reason, but it looks like science is against the concept of atheism. I googled it myself to double check and it looks like all the scientific papers say atheism causes negative effects on public health and religion causes positive beneficial effects for civilization.

For example one study says

"Atheism and agnostic beliefs result in suicidal thoughts. Atheist doctors and non-religious hospitals also were more likely to recommend suicide to their patients."


Another large scale meta analysis says

"More religion results in lower alcoholism, marijuana use, smoking, crime, depression, anxiety, & results in higher self-esteem and well-being. Less religion results in the exact opposite and has an overall negative effect on life in all categories."


I've gone down a rabbit hole and have so many questions mainstream atheism never talks about, all of which seem to be a complete refutation to atheism, I've asked many other atheists and they could not provide any answers. For example does atheism have objective morality? How do atheists logically determine what is right/wrong aka good/bad? I always went by the harm principle, but it looks like atheism harms society so logically wouldn't it be banned? It's really looking like religious people are right, especially Islam. All this time I thought they were just killing atheists for no reason, but they clearly do have a logical reason to ban ideologies like atheism.

Can any atheist answer my questions?



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Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Heaven forfend that "David

Heaven forfend that "Devon Shapiro" and "David Howitz" are one and the same person? Just looking for clicks to a badly written site?

Although they obviously went to the same grade, high and senior school where a template of writing style was remorselessly drilled into them both I will defend their right to the identity of their choice.

I must point out that all the Abrahamic religions do seem to collect an unfair proportion of dissimulators, flim flam men and outright liars to their ranks. Especially, it seems, Islam.

TheExAtheist's picture
ex-ath*st here, you are on

ex-ath*st here, you are on the right path, I usually check this cringe website to see if anyone is having doubts about ath*sm, and help them along, but you OP seem to have stumbled onto a gold mine, i haven't really seen anyone refute ath*sm using the very thing ath*sts worship

it's very interesting, i can tell you as as a former ath*st, that ath*sm has no answers to any of that, ath*sm at it's core is just headonism and animalistic desires


Attach Image/Video?: 

Tin-Man's picture
@Hyde Re: "..ath*sm at it's

@Hyde Re: "..ath*sm at it's core is just headonism and animalistic desires"

Hey!... *indignant look*... Just because I like to play with balls of yarn, claw at the curtains, and mark my property by pissing on it DOES NOT mean I have animalistic desires. It's simply called "natural instinct." Stop being so judgmental. Oh, and please tell Dr. Jekyll hello for me.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Samuel Hyde - ...i haven't

Samuel Hyde - ...i haven't really seen anyone refute ath*sm using the very thing ath*sts worship...

Tr*lling m*ch?

Randomhero1982's picture
ex-ath*st here, you are on

ex-ath*st here, you are on the right path..... *rambles on, spouting bollocks*

You're about as much an ex-atheist as Ken Ham is an ex-astrophysicist.

Get back in your ice cream can, you ropey looking twat.

Mutorc S'yriah's picture
Dunno what the question is,

Dunno what the question is, but atheism = depression and hopelessness, while theism = purpose and bliss, does not lead to the conclusion atheism = false.

Besides, it's not always true that atheism = depression and hopelessness, and the best most well adjusted societies are found in countries which are essentially secularly governed, and secular in the broad spectrum of beliefs in their populations.


Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Sammy

@ Sammy

"Headonism (sic) and animalistic desires?"

Well thanks for my first laugh today...even Captain Cat appreciated that howler......it seems the OP and Sammy Jekyll here are vying for the place of Forum Comedienne.....

David Killens's picture
Is it coincidence that both

Is it coincidence that both are first time posters, and that they logged in 21 minutes apart? I smell a sock.

And Samuel, don't be afraid to use the full word. In case you just can't spell, it is ATHEIST. God won't cut off your dick if you say the word. She texted me and told me that you would be forgiven.

David Killens's picture
David Howitz are you an

David Howitz are you an atheist or theist? Your profile states atheist, but the contents of your post point directly at a theist position.

Your references to some sources are also very suspect, especially Springer LInk, obviously a theistic publication.

"More religion results in lower alcoholism, marijuana use, smoking, crime, depression, anxiety, & results in higher self-esteem and well-being. Less religion results in the exact opposite and has an overall negative effect on life in all categories."

For the above statement (on which I disagree) you must provide proof.

DoubtingAtheism's picture
The springer link is a study

The springer link is a study by Dr. Dana Lizardi from Columbia University, School of Social Work. It's clearly from an Ivy League university so hardly a theistic link, and is published in the Journal of Journal of Religion and Health (https://link.springer.com/journal/10943)

The one on alcoholism and crime is another study by Dr. Julie E. Yonker from Calvin College, Department of Psychology. It's a large meta analysis (collection of many peer reviewed scientific papers and treats em all as a single large scale experiment) and the study states in it's results:

Alcohol consumption:

"Underage alcohol consumption was the most frequently examined risk behavior (k ¼ 16). The effect size (-0.17) indicated
that increased S/R was associated with less underage alcohol consumption. Binge drinking is defined by five or more alcoholic
drinks in one session. We found two empirical studies that fit our search criteria. These studies were included in the overall
measure of risk behavior cited above, but were not analyzed as an individual outcome variable."

S/R is Spirituality/Religiosity, and it finds that those with higher religiosity was associated with less alcoholism

Another section:

"With 24 studies, depression and S/R was one of the more frequently examined correlations, and was the single most
common outcome of S/R in the studies that met our inclusion criteria. We chose to include those studies with reliable
measures of depression such as the Beck Depression Inventory or POMS (Profile of Mood States) rather than simply a categorical
response to “Do you feel depressed” or “How depressed do you feel”. The effect size (-0.11) supports previous research,
indicating that greater S/R is associated with less depressive symptoms."

Finds that religiosity is associated with less depression, concurring with the mainstream consensus.

The online version is here:

Someone took screenshots of the study if you don't have full access to it.

Overall it seems that promoting atheism is bad for people's mental health. I can't see how we can believe in science, yet also promote something that is scientifically proven to be harmful for humanity.

David Killens's picture
From my readings of these

From my readings of these "studies", they are focused on adolescents. One cannot infer that a small slice of the gross population, one that has the most emotional and intellectual turmoil (and willingness to take risks and explore forbidden actions) because they are reaching adulthood and learning their way in life, represents all of the members of atheism.

The sample size and specificity of the demographics of the sample group does not come close to representing enough of atheism to draw a meaningful conclusion.

Tin-Man's picture
Re: OP and the other sock

Re: OP and the other sock puppets associated with it

... *double face palm with elbows supported on table*.... *grooooooooan*.... *face slipping from hands*.... *face-planting on table top*... *3-in-1 oil oozing from left nostril of nose*... *shallow dent formed on forehead*... Oh-fuck-a-doodle-do.... *rolling head back and forth on table*... Could the genius/geniuses doing this POSSIBLY BE just a bit more obvious in his/her/their trolling?... *raising head from table*... *sticking wadded piece of tissue up left nostril*... Shit... Not even making an attempt to vary writing styles in any significant manner. It's almost insulting, in a way. While I can't speak for others, I expect a better class of trolls around here. It truly saddens me to think the art of trolling has deteriorated to such unimaginative and pathetically imbecilic levels. Almost makes me want to cry... *shaking head sadly*...

Nyarlathotep's picture
@David Howitz

@David Howitz

You aren't going to convince many people that god exists by claiming that atheism leads to undesirable outcomes. What is desirable does not determine what is real.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Also we shouldn't be

Also we shouldn't be surprised that people in the minority often have more difficulties in society than their majority counterparts. Ask any left handed person.

Cognostic's picture

RE: ATHEISM IS INFERIOR TO SCIENCE: Now here is the stupid claim of the century.

Atheist: People who do not believe in Gods.

Science: the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

The only way to make the assertion that Atheism is no comparable with science is to build some sort of Straw Man argument out of atheism and then demonstrate the Straw Man to be wrong. Atheism is a LACK OF BELIEF IN GOD OR GODS. It is not an assertion. It makes no claims. It can not be investigated through scientific inquiry. Atheists are people who simply "LEAVE RELIGION AND NO LONGER BELIEVE."

algebe's picture
@David Howitz it looks like

@David Howitz it looks like science is against the concept of atheism.

So one thing you know nothing about is against another thing you know nothing about.

Thank you for that very valuable insight.

Calilasseia's picture
Care to explain this?

Care to explain this?

Cross-National Correlations Of Quantifiable Societal Health With Popular Religiosity And Secularism In The Prosperous Democracies: A First Look by Gregory S. Paul, Journal of Religion & Society, 7: 1-17 (2005) [Full paper downloadable from here]


Large-scale surveys show dramatic declines in religiosity in favor of secularization in the developed democracies. Popular acceptance of evolutionary science correlates negatively with levels of religiosity, and the United States is the only prosperous nation where the majority absolutely believes in a creator and evolutionary science is unpopular. Abundant data is available on rates of societal dysfunction and health in the first world. Cross-national comparisons of highly differing rates of religiosity and societal conditions form a mass epidemiological experiment that can be used to test whether high rates of belief in and worship of a creator are necessary for high levels of social health. Data correlations show that in almost all regards the highly secular democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction, while pro-religious and antievolution America performs poorly.

From the introduction, we have:

Theists often assert that popular belief in a creator is instrumental towards providing the moral, ethical and other foundations necessary for a healthy, cohesive society. Many also contend that widespread acceptance of evolution, and/or denial of a creator, is contrary to these goals. But a cross-national study verifying these claims has yet to be published. That radically differing worldviews can have measurable impact upon societal conditions is plausible according to a number of mainstream researchers (Bainbridge; Barro; Barro and McCleary; Beeghley; Groeneman and Tobin; Huntington; Inglehart and Baker; Putman; Stark and Bainbridge). Agreement with the hypothesis that belief in a creator is beneficial to societies is largely based on assumption, anecdotal accounts, and on studies of limited scope and quality restricted to one population (Benson et al.; Hummer et al.; Idler and Kasl; Stark and Bainbridge). A partial exception is given by Barro and McCleary, who correlated economic growth with rates of belief in the afterlife and church attendance in numerous nations (while Kasman and Reid [2004] commented that Europe does not appear to be suffering unduly from its secularization). It is surprising that a more systematic examination of the question has not been previously executed since the factors required to do so are in place. The twentieth century acted, for the first time in human history, as a vast Darwinian global societal experiment in which a wide variety of dramatically differing social-religious-political-economic systems competed with one another, with varying degrees of success. A quantitative cross-national analysis is feasible because a large body of survey and census data on rates of religiosity, secularization, and societal indicators has become available in the prosperous developed democracies including the United States.

Further on, we have this:


[13] Among the developed democracies absolute belief in God, attendance of religious services and Bible literalism vary over a dozenfold, atheists and agnostics five fold, prayer rates fourfold, and acceptance of evolution almost twofold. Japan, Scandinavia, and France are the most secular nations in the west, the United States is the only prosperous first world nation to retain rates of religiosity otherwise limited to the second and third worlds (Bishop; PEW). Prosperous democracies where religiosity is low (which excludes the U.S.) are referred to below as secular developed democracies.

[14] Correlations between popular acceptance of human evolution and belief in and worship of a creator and Bible literalism are negative (Figure 1). The least religious nation, Japan, exhibits the highest agreement with the scientific theory, the lowest level of acceptance is found in the most religious developed democracy, the U.S.

[15] A few hundred years ago rates of homicide were astronomical in Christian Europe and the American colonies (Beeghley; R. Lane). In all secular developed democracies a centuries longterm trend has seen homicide rates drop to historical lows (Figure 2). The especially low rates in the more Catholic European states are statistical noise due to yearly fluctuations incidental to this sample, and are not consistently present in other similar tabulations (Barcley and Tavares). Despite a significant decline from a recent peak in the 1980s (Rosenfeld), the U.S. is the only prosperous democracy that retains high homicide rates, making it a strong outlier in this regard (Beeghley; Doyle, 2000). Similarly, theistic Portugal also has rates of homicides well above the secular developed democracy norm. Mass student murders in schools are rare, and have subsided somewhat since the 1990s, but the U.S. has experienced many more (National School Safety Center) than all the secular developed democracies combined. Other prosperous democracies do not significantly exceed the U.S. in rates of nonviolent and in non-lethal violent crime (Beeghley; Farrington and Langan; Neapoletan), and are often lower in this regard. The United States exhibits typical rates of youth suicide (WHO), which show little if any correlation with theistic factors in the prosperous democracies (Figure 3). The positive correlation between protheistic factors and juvenile mortality is remarkable, especially regarding absolute belief, and even prayer (Figure 4). Life spans tend to decrease as rates of religiosity rise (Figure 5), especially as a function of absolute belief. Denmark is the only exception. Unlike questionable small-scale epidemiological studies by Harris et al. and Koenig and Larson, higher rates of religious affiliation, attendance, and prayer do not result in lower juvenile-adult mortality rates on a cross-national basis. [6]

[16] Although the late twentieth century STD epidemic has been curtailed in all prosperous democracies (Aral and Holmes; Panchaud et al.), rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection remain six to three hundred times higher in the U.S. than in less theistic, pro-evolution secular developed democracies (Figure 6). At all ages levels are higher in the U.S., albeit by less dramatic amounts. The U.S. also suffers from uniquely high adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, which are starting to rise again as the microbe’s resistance increases (Figure 7). The two main curable STDs have been nearly eliminated in strongly secular Scandinavia. Increasing adolescent abortion rates show positive correlation with increasing belief and worship of a creator, and negative correlation with increasing non-theism and acceptance of evolution; again rates are uniquely high in the U.S. (Figure 8). Claims that secular cultures aggravate abortion rates (John Paul II) are therefore contradicted by the quantitative data. Early adolescent pregnancy and birth have dropped in the developed democracies (Abma et al.; Singh and Darroch), but rates are two to dozens of times higher in the U.S. where the decline has been more modest (Figure 9). Broad correlations between decreasing theism and increasing pregnancy and birth are present, with Austria and especially Ireland being partial exceptions. Darroch et al. found that age of first intercourse, number of sexual partners and similar issues among teens do not exhibit wide disparity or a consistent pattern among the prosperous democracies they sampled, including the U.S. A detailed comparison of sexual practices in France and the U.S. observed little difference except that the French tend – contrary to common impression – to be somewhat more conservative (Gagnon et al.).


[17] The absence of exceptions to the negative correlation between absolute belief in a creator and acceptance of evolution, plus the lack of a significant religious revival in any developed democracy where evolution is popular, cast doubt on the thesis that societies can combine high rates of both religiosity and agreement with evolutionary science. Such an amalgamation may not be practical. By removing the need for a creator evolutionary science made belief optional. When deciding between supernatural and natural causes is a matter of opinion large numbers are likely to opt for the latter. Western nations are likely to return to the levels of popular religiosity common prior to the 1900s only in the improbable event that naturalistic evolution is scientifically overturned in favor of some form of creationist natural theology that scientifically verifies the existence of a creator. Conversely, evolution will probably not enjoy strong majority support in the U.S. until religiosity declines markedly.

[18] In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9). The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a “shining city on the hill” to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health. Youth suicide is an exception to the general trend because there is not a significant relationship between it and religious or secular factors. No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of societal health. Higher rates of non-theism and acceptance of human evolution usually correlate with lower rates of dysfunction, and the least theistic nations are usually the least dysfunctional. None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction. In some cases the highly religious U.S. is an outlier in terms of societal dysfunction from less theistic but otherwise socially comparable secular developed democracies. In other cases, the correlations are strongly graded, sometimes outstandingly so.

[19] If the data showed that the U.S. enjoyed higher rates of societal health than the more secular, pro-evolution democracies, then the opinion that popular belief in a creator is strongly beneficial to national cultures would be supported. Although they are by no means utopias, the populations of secular democracies are clearly able to govern themselves and maintain societal cohesion. Indeed, the data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, proevolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life” that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. The least theistic secular developed democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards. The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted. Contradicting these conclusions requires demonstrating a positive link between theism and societal conditions in the first world with a similarly large body of data – a doubtful possibility in view of the observable trends.

Oh dear. I'd say that more or less flushes down the toilet any idea that religion is useful. Secular, scientifically educated democracies, minus the pervasive and pernicious religiosity of the USA, score significantly better, in some cases massively better than the USA, with respect to a number of important indicators of societal health. Seems as though Hitchens was right with his book title.

I wonder what apologetics will be erected to try and hand-wave this away?

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Calli

@ Calli

Love it.

Oh..."Boom" LMFAO....eat carpet you sock trolls

Cognostic's picture
@Cali: Thanks for that. I

@Cali: Thanks for that. I didn't have the time to do the search but it was on my to do list.

Sheldon's picture
@David Howitz

@David Howitz

What does your long list of claims tell us about the validity of theism? The truth of a claim has nothing to do with how you feel about it, or how useful you perceive it to be. If I were you I'd not invoke science until you can grasp this fundamental aspect of it's method.

xenoview's picture

What objective evidence doe you have for a god?

Grinseed's picture
@ David Horowitz

@ David Horowitz

I don't usually insult people only stupid ideas, but in your objectionable case, I make an exception. You are a deceitful arsehole.

The first two DevonShapiro links deal with pallitative care for theists and atheists, people with painful, inoperable, incurable condtions. I cannot believe you posted both without realising that neither was dealing with straight out suicide risk. I believe all you read was 'atheist' and 'suicide' and posted it to support your duplicitious attempt to deride atheism. Why would someone claiming to be an atheist do that?

"Atheism and agnostic beliefs result in suicidal thoughts. Atheist doctors and non-religious hospitals also were more likely to recommend suicide to their patients."

It cannot be surprising that, atheists or their palliative carers would opt for medically-assisted suicide near the point of death, when no other options are viable!

Theists fear eternal punishment for their choice to die voluntarily.

That choice has been long denied to others by cruel religious authoritarians who equate supporting the pointless terminal suffering of others as an act of sanctimonious piety and christian love. The devil they believe and fear has no better servants.

As my wife suffered her last months, she confessed the desire to be able to just end her painful existence, but the irrational laws of this country denied her that dignity and she was subject to the degradation of opiate based drugs that stripped her of any quality of life. These blind anti-euthanasia laws have been legislated on the strength of ludicrous religious demands.

So, the OP could either be a sock, puppet, or troll who will be delighted at my response, and for this reason is most definitely a duplicitous polished turd to boot.

edited to refine an insult.

Mikhael's picture
My little family of three

My little family of three coliving people have all talked at length about what sort of situations would have us choosing the right to die. Myself and one other use to oppose it on religious grounds, but now, approaching 30, no longer convinced of my inmortality, with a very elderly grandmother, I can't fathom the idea of forcing someone to hold on to a few more weeks or months of nonlife just because sky daddy isn't done screwing with us yet

Mikhael's picture
If you wanna talk about

If you wanna talk about religion and happiness just go ask some homeless LGBT teenagers. Hurry though before they commit suicide

David Killens's picture
A few months ago I ran across

A few months ago I ran across a YouTube video from someone who had surgery to change their sex. The comments in that video almost brought me to tears. There were multiple stories from gay/LGBT theists who were trapped in a cruel cycle of guilt, confusion, and shame.

They knew what their inner voice was telling them, but it was in direct conflict with their religious upbringing. To sum up most comments, it was "I am gay, that makes me a sinner and thus god hates me".

The pain and confusion I witnessed in those comments is haunting, to witness so many people in emotional pain just because of religion.

And yes Mikhael, it was obvious some felt that suicide was the only way to deal with this horrible trap erected by religion.

Mikhael's picture
There's something uniquely

There's something uniquely heinous about it. Too often theists dismiss it by saying oh, everyone has their vices and their sin to overcome , but fuck them. This isn't just oh, someone swears too much or gossips. This is a part of ones identity that can not ever be changed or taken apart from themself. I was still Catholic when I realized the reason I didn't like my body and why I only ever related to boys and men was because I was trans, and now now as in a church with a pope who said ideas more dangerous than a nuclear weapon.

Christ , just writing that out and remembering people like Leelah Alcorn, makes me sick at how I could ever consider going back

David Killens's picture
Mikhael, you are now truly

Mikhael, you are now truly realizing the evil that is called religion, and the damage it does.

The veil of deception, manipulation, and lies has been stripped away from your vision.

Mikhael's picture
I recently found a group of

I recently found a group of other ex Catholics, and I think it has done me good to find others who know specifically the cult I came from. Atheists from Protestantism are the majority in terms of visibility but there are aspects of Catholic indoctrination that only we can understand how to fight. Its been better

Randomhero1982's picture
I'd rather have a drink and

I'd rather have a drink and be depressed on occasion than believe in an invisible cosmic wizard whilst buggering an alter boy and being intellectually dishonest.

Simon Moon's picture
It seems that scientifically

It seems that scientifically atheism is inferior to religion, and results in things like higher rates of depression, suicide, rape, murder, crime. It causes less happiness, increases drug abuse and alcoholism.

Even if all that is true, that does not have anything to do with whether theists have met their burden of proof, or the god claim is true.

All the things you mention, which you claim are superior under theism, could be (and most likely are) due to the built in community religions have. They are not superior because of the truth of the god claims, but because theists having problems have a support system easily accessible.

Atheist could be (they are not) the: the most miserable, alcoholic, depressed, drug abusing people on the planets, and that would not lend one bit of credence to the claim that gods exist, is true.

So, bottom line...
Your entire OP is just one big non sequitur fallacy.


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