Are you an atheist? If so, that's totally cool. We don't have any fake hundred-dollar bills to give you which reveal that "true wealth comes from the Lord" when they unravel. However, we do have some rough news: While a lot of people act like atheism is shunning the responsibility that comes with religion in order to waste time wearing black clothes and getting to third base with unmarried demons or whatever, it actually means taking up a few unforeseen hardships. For example ...
Let's start with the fact that everyone apparently thinks atheists are the scum of the Earth, according to many surveys. I don't particularly believe in God myself, so I'm just as disappointed by this news as anyone. And while I'd love to hold this up as an example of believers being jerks, those same polls show that even atheists hate and mistrust other atheists. Even we can't wrap our heads around the idea of someone having a moral code without a higher power to enforce it.
To determine how this anti-atheist bias works, researchers asked 3,000 people in 13 countries the most reasonable question ever: "If there was a person who used to torture animals as a child, then they grew up and became a teacher who murdered a bunch of homeless dudes, would you figure this person was an atheist or religious?" I wish that was my joke, because it's kind of awesome, but it's not. That's literally the question they asked. And across the whole study, people were twice as likely to suspect the killer of being an atheist. Even atheists believed the person was more likely to be an atheist. Incidentally, I'm pretty sure I had that teacher for art history.
In a second study which polled Canadians and Americans, participants were asked to imagine a hit-and-run driver fleeing after hitting a parked car, then later finding a wallet and stealing all the money. What a shitberg. They then asked participants if said shitberg was more likely to be a teacher, an atheist teacher, or a rapist teacher. Your first inclination here might be to wonder why, in both this example and the previous one, all the shitbergs are teachers. Maybe people aren't biased against atheists as much as they just hate teachers. The second takeaway here is that yes, people suspected the driver of being an atheist over a rapist. Over a goddamn rapist. Come on.
5 Atheism Is Still Political Suicide
If the year 2017 taught you nothing else about politics, it should be that politics is worse than having a hedgehog chew a hole through one of your kidneys. We've experienced financial tomfuckery, sexual harassment and assault, enough lies to choke a circus elephant, and more childish insults than a roast battle at a daycare. People the world over will officially tolerate anything from politicians -- except atheism.
In the grand scheme of things people hate from their elected officials, it looks like atheism is getting close to the last straw. 37 percent of people would be less likely to vote for a politician who'd had an affair, and 41 percent would be less likely to vote for one who'd had financial problems, but 51 percent would be less likely to vote for an atheist. A bankrupt philanderer could become president if he claimed to be Christian. Can you imagine? What a world, am I right?
A Gallup poll suggests that 58 percent of Americans would be willing to vote for an atheist candidate, and while that number sounds promising, the polls also show that only a socialist would have less support, at 47 percent, and a Muslim candidate would have 60 percent support, while a gay candidate comes in at 74 percent. So for the socialists/atheists out there who were hoping for a like-minded government some day, it looks like we'll probably be colonizing Mars before that happens.
4Atheists Make Everyone Think Of Death
If you're a religious sort of person, what comes to mind when you think of atheists? Is it some smug Richard Dawkins kind of guy trying to explain the miracle of magnets to you with so-called science? Or is it the cold, grim hand of death? Bet it's that second one. And also that first one. But mostly that second one, since atheists just make everyone think of the Reaper, apparently. This, as you can imagine, does not improve people's attitudes toward them.
Researchers found this out via studies that began with putting subjects in a morbid mindset with questions like "What's going to happen to you after you die?" and "How many explosive charges do you think you could plant in your own butt before using a Slip 'N Slide becomes a fatal mistake?" (Paraphrasing -- they were all about death, is the point.) Another group was asked dark but non-death-related questions.
Everyone was then asked their opinions on Quakers and atheists. As expected, everyone thought the first group were just smug-ass oatmeal jockeys, and had much darker thoughts about the second one. But while there were negative views on atheists across the board, the subjects who were focusing thinking about death really, really hated them.
A second study just had people do some fill-in-the-blanks fun after being asked to think about atheism, pain, or death. The atheism and death crowd both filled in their blanks with that gloomy, morose shit, with the study concluding that the very idea of atheism is existentially threatening to a ton of people. So if you're an atheist and you find yourself on the shit end of some evangelical hatred, it's only because your entire being threatens not just that person's existence, but their entire understanding of said existence. You literally cause people to question the fabric of their reality. Good for you! But before we go patting ourselves on the back too hard ...
3 Atheists Aren't As Open-Minded As You'd Think
If you had to guess who is more open-minded between atheists and religious folk, you'd probably choose atheists without even putting much thought into it. "Conservative" tends to be synonymous with "religious," and "liberal" goes hand in hand with "atheist," right? Well hold onto your non-denominational butts, because it looks like there are some circumstances in which atheists tend to be more rigidly dogmatic than their happy Christian counterparts.
Now, don't go writing letters to your congressperson about what a lying asshole I am, because odds are they're probably more of a lying asshole anyway. Plus I'm Canadian, so I can abuse whatever narrative I want in the U.S. and no one can stop me, save a very skilled and unceasingly polite beaver and syrup technician. But I'm also citing a study which does support the notion that when "it came to subtly measured inclination to integrate views that were diverging and contrary to one's own perspectives, it was the religious who showed more openness."
Does this mean gay people are going to be way more welcome at Roy Moore's Evangelical Jamboree and Sidewalk Sale? Probably not. The point of the study was mostly to show that close-mindedness is not the exclusive purview of the religious, and that atheists can actually become so dogmatic in their disbelief that anything that challenges that lack of belief will be met with more rigidity than information which may challenge the beliefs of someone who is religious. In short, everyone loves to put their fingers in their ears and yell "Nuh-uh, I can't hear youuuuu" sometimes.
2 Atheists Are More Prone To Addiction
When you hit high school, a whole new world opens up to you, in which super cool kids who wear leather jackets and use switchblade combs offer you beers and cigarettes and that wicked electric lettuce. Will you give in to peer pressure, or will you remain stalwart and square? What makes you more likely to choose one over the other? Fear of divine retribution, apparently.
Studies of both Swiss and Mexican / Mexican American youth have shown that those who have a religious affiliation benefit from a protective effect when it comes to substance abuse. Religiosity is associated with less use of alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana ... despite the fact that even the godless teens grew up in a world full of anti-drug PSAs and preachy sitcom episodes.
Numerous studies show that if a religious or spiritual community expresses direct prohibitions and limitations against use or abuse, the followers are probably going to go along. This may not just be about fearing eternal hellfire; it could also be that simply having a community of like-minded people provides a sense of acceptance and belonging. That support group means you're less likely to want some sweet Schnapps for breakfast, and also they'll be able to help you resist it if/when you do.
1 Atheists Just Might Die Sooner
There's evidence to suggest that religious people who regularly attend church have a longer lifespan than people who don't, like your friendly neighborhood atheist. So the people who believe there's something after life have to wait longer to find out than the people who don't, on average. That's a final insult for someone -- you just need to decide for whom.
A study of 75,000 middle-aged nurses in the United States showed that participants who regularly attended church services over a 20-year period, as in once a week, had a 33 percent lower risk of dying during the study period than those who didn't. Jesus saves! Maybe!
The thing to keep in mind with this research is that it isn't exclusively faith that's keeping anyone alive. The same data shows that countries that are much more religious overall, such as places in Sub-Saharan Africa, still have much higher mortality rates than the U.S. Conversely, more secular nations like Japan have higher life expectancy overall. So what's the point? It's in the difference between the two.
People who are not religious in the U.S. are, as every other entry here shows, walking piles of rapidly steaming shit in the eyes of everyone else. Atheists are the gangly, body-odor-laden children of the Babadook. That special brand of ostracism places atheists, by and large, outside of social involvement. If you're not trusted as a politician, if you're not as able to engage in charitable and community outreach projects because most of them are organized by churches and religious groups, if people assume you're a rapist teacher, then you don't have that same support base as religious people. On average, you don't have the encouragement of others, or a ton of organized people who will take an interest in your welfare. And you would if you lived in a predominately secular nation, where many of these community groups are also secular and atheists are more accepted as part of the community.
Is the conclusion here that religious people are inadvertently killing atheists? I never said that, and neither did you. Not even sure who typed that sentence. But you can conclude that in a nation that leans more toward religion, those who do not partake have social disadvantages that the majority does not take into account. The majority just wants them to burn in a Hell they don't even believe in, which they'll get to slightly earlier.
Nothing wrong with being a child of the Babadook. Get Babashook!
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