In your opening remarks to Electric, you stated the following:
Just a small observation, but it would make sense that religious people would be happier than the non-religious, overall, because the religious have regular, predictable social patterns that incline them to certain estimable behaviours and psychologies. The same is true of our paleolithic ancestors, and many tribal cultures today: they are happier, overall, because of the regularity and predictability of their communal life together. The non-religious of today are in some ways like the outcasts of yesteryears, and their overall happiness is beset by some of the same stresses: lack of familial community and patterned social groupings.Metacrock wrote:What do they find? In a nutshell, they find that people who are involved in religion also report greater levels of happiness than do those who are not religious. For example, one study involved over 160,000 people in Europe. Among weekly churchgoers, 85% reported being "very satisfied" with life, but this number reduced to 77% among those who never went to church (Inglehart, 1990). This kind of pattern is typical -- religious involvement is associated with modest increases in happiness.
So, really, I think the studies you've cited speak to a much deeper subject than religion per se. Your articles shine a light on the necessity for human community as a marker for increased happiness. I think placing the findings of those studies solely on the shoulders of 'religion' denigrades the underlying phenomenon happening between the religious that leads to their overall increase in happiness: social acceptance. Cavemen were happier when they were not tribal outcasts, too. But that does nothing to prove the veracity of their religions and superstitions, just like the marginal increase in happiness amongst the religious of today does nothing to prove the veracity of modern religions.
Or to put the same point in a rougher way, George Bernard Shaw stated as follows:
Cheers!"The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality."