Does Atheism cause depression?

I was talking to a person today who stated that he believes that “atheism causes depression.”  And I have been wondering if this is the case or not.  Does the act of not believing there is a God or a divine being cause people to feel hopeless about life?  Does it create a sense of meaninglessness?   I think it is important to start considering the correlation between the existence of God and our level of happiness.  I started wondering also if believing in a divine being is necessary in order for humans to have hope and meaning in life.

Is the concept of God a way for us humans to desperately decrease the chaos that invade our minds if we would not have this belief?  Does believing in God help us to feel safe, worthy, and meaningful?  If this would be the sole reason that we choose to believe, is there a way to feel safe, worthy, and meaningful without the concept of God? Do we even need to feel happy in order to have meaning?  Do we need meaning to live a worthy life? Do we need life to be worthy?

I think few people will doubt that humans are complex beings who strive for purpose and have aspirations.  We develop organized systems called societies that help us to live productive lives.  We are not like the other beings we call animals and plants.  We can be creative, ambitious, merciful, and entertaining.  We can definitely destroy and kill each other, but we can rebuild and forgive.  Where did all these special attributes we don’t share with other living beings come from?  Are we just a pure accidental chance that happens to evolve out of nothingness?  Or could we have developed these characteristics from a higher being?

This brings me back to the basic question of “What or who is God?”  I do not believe God is the humanly figure that sits on a golden celestial throne up in heaven punishing sinners and protecting the loyal believers.  God is much more than what our limited human minds can even imagine.

Can we imagine forgiving those who hurt us?  Can we imagine loving those who hate us? Can we think of how we can serve the hungry, the sick, and the naked when we have our own problems to solve? Can we ponder on how to give the criminal another chance to contribute to society, the addict another opportunity to be sober, and the cheater a chance to be honest?  If we can, then we can imagine the characteristics of God.

The person I referred to at the beginning of this post used to be an atheist at one point in his life.  So he surely has some personal experience and knowledge about the nature of atheism.  I understand that the unbelief in a God implies that this universe must be an accident.  It is a random set of particles that happen to interact in such a way that it triggered molecules and chemical reactions that caused the beginning of life.  This life evolved somehow to ultimately create consciousness and, thus, human lives.  But it was all an accident and random chance.  According to atheism, we have no purpose and meaning.  We just exist without a reason.

And I wonder, does having no meaning and reason lead to depression?  We may think we can create our own reason and meaning.  But then what?  What good is it to create my own interpretation of life and then cease to exist forever?  Living with atheism would be almost like a dead end.  There would be no designed cause for my existence, and no ever lasting effect as a result of my existence.  Sounds depressing?

The atheist  may disagree with the idea of living in depression.   He or she may also be in denial.  All I know is that life must have a meaning and a purpose in order to be worthwhile.   Otherwise, our existence would truly be meaningless, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves we are worth something.

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About Noel

I am a person who has realized that the teachings of Jesus are centralized in the genuine care and service of others. I have evolved from fundamentalism to a moderate spiritual approach. I am a reflecting person who has grown to not fear doubt but to embrace it as a means to growth and increasing closeness to God. View all posts by Noel

30 responses to “Does Atheism cause depression?

  • Howie

    Hi Noel,

    I don’t have an answer to your question of your overall post, but I do have some thoughts on the topic that you may or may not agree with.

    First to say “the atheist may disagree with the idea of living in depression. He or she may also be in denial”. We can make this statement about any group of people. I can say “the religious person may disagree with the idea of living in depression. He or she may also be in denial.” But this does not prove that all religious people have depression. Depression is an actual clinical disorder that can be diagnosed by observing certain symptoms in people’s lives. I can tell you for sure that I have known religious people with depression and I’ve known atheists with depression. I can also tell you for sure that I have known people in both camps who for sure do NOT have depression.

    My second thought is really a question for you: you said “what good is it to create my own interpretation of life and then cease to exist forever?” So my question for you Noel is: if you believed in God but also believed that God declared that you had purpose and meaning but that you would not live life eternally would you conclude that you actually did not have purpose and meaning because you would cease to exist forever?

    • Noel

      Howie, thanks for reading and commenting. I know about depression, it runs in my family, and I work with mentally ill people. Perhaps using this clinical illness was extreme, but my post was to point out the possibility that not believing in a life beyond the physical world leads to a “depressive” state of mind.
      I had to read your question twice in order to grasp it completely… if I create my own subjective meaning (and there is no God to design it) , it would be useless after I die. Even if the next generation continues to live by my own created meaning, it would eventually cease to exist. But if God designs the meaning of life, it would serve a purpose beyond my physical death, therefore, it would last forever. The idea that I would cease to exist forever was given as a result of the case that God does not exist and I would then create my own meaning and purpose. Hope this answers you question.

      • Howie

        Hey Noel… sorry to hear about the depression in your family – it is a sad disease that can cause a lot of pain not only for the person going through it but also for their loved ones.

        Yeah I probably could have re-worded my question a little clearer. I was just wondering if having a soul that lives on forever is necessary for you to feel like your life has meaning and purpose, but it sounds like that is not a requirement for you (although I know others who that is important for).

        My main thought on that one is that if having an eternal soul really is not a requirement for feeling like we have meaning and purpose then whether the meaning and purpose comes from another being who is higher than us or whether the meaning and purpose comes from ourselves (either individually or collectively as humans together) either way those feelings of purpose and meaning enable people to avoid slipping into this depressive state of mind.

        On the flip side I really believe that there are people (probably yourself) who feel that they would not be able to achieve this feeling of meaning or purpose unless they believe there is a higher being outside of humanity that defines it for them. Those people likely would have a higher chance of slipping into a depressive state of mind. I went through this kind of feeling for about a year or so after I found that I could no longer call myself a Christian. Once I realized that there is so much more in life to value even without higher beings then I was able to get out of that depressive state. I can tell from your writing that you won’t buy that so much and that’s ok. You and are are different people and that’s just the way it is. 🙂

      • Noel

        Thank you for your respectful response. I appreciate your kind words in spite of our differences. Take care.

      • Howie

        Cool Noel!!! I really enjoy a respectful transfer of ideas even if people agree to disagree. I get burnt out on blogging sometimes when there is never-ending back and forth in trying to prove a point when simply agreeing to disagree early on would end up with the same result. You seem to be much better than I am at wisely choosing that route.

        To me the stuff that you and I disagree on don’t really seem all that important (at least to me). I very much like the fact that you believe the main focus of your Christian walk is on being kind to others and helping the needy. This is an awesome thing that I am on board with too. While I volunteer as well, I’ll be frank and say that I don’t do this near enough as I would like.

  • Arkenaten

    I could imagine how a person would become depressed if they believed in a deity that they had been told all their life was a loving caring entity only to find out that this is blatantly untrue and the foundation their religion was built upon is utter falsehood.
    Yes, I might succumb to depression because of this.

    • Howie

      Yeah Ark, that’s a good point, “de-conversion” from strong religious beliefs can be a tough thing to go through for anyone – at least it was for me. Luckily for me that “dark” period of my life was a short one.

      • Arkenaten

        Who was it that said a lie can get its boots on and run around the world before the truth has got out of bed?
        (or something like this)

        This sums up religion, and illustrates why secular humanism was so slow off the mark….maybe it struggled to recognise just how dumb and gullible humans can be?
        And of course it is a tad awkward trying to rationalise with someone with a sword at your throat who is intent on killing you in the name of his god.

  • Anna

    Hi Noel,
    I believe everyone has the propensity to be depressed. The reason is that the devil attacks the mind using thoughts.
    2Cor 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
    4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;
    5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    Strong holds are thoughts that have taken root in the mind, and must be demolished.
    For example, this will not be politically correct but the main reason for depression is “self-occupation”. ‘To be disappointed with oneself is to have put trust in yourself’.
    When one gets to the point where it’s “All of Christ, None of Self” then they will have conquered self-occupation and take into captivity the very thoughts that were making them depressed in the first place and bring it to the obedience Christ.

    Aside: I see you read extensively, my recommendation: Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince.
    Online reading: dayspringfromonhigh.com

    Hope you watch and also watch the other JPrince videos plus Andrew Wommack’s and realize and truly understand man’s purpose on this earth and making our way back to our origins.

    God Bless.

  • Anna

    I just want to reiterate that God is a very loving father. God is Love. He loves us so much He sent his only Son to die for our sin.
    You’ll never know how much God Loves you until you realize how much he Loves his Son Christ Jesus.

    Christ came and fulfilled the Law (10 Commandments) 2000 years ago… He was the only person who was able to do so. Christ became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. He was crucified- judged and punished for all the sins that you or I will ever commit. All our sins are already forgiven…this includes past, present and future sins. Christ bore it all at the cross…. your health/healing, salvation, provisions etc. are already provided for. It’s all a finished work…that’s why after going through all the punishment at the cross, Jesus cried… “Finished”….Everything has already been paid for… so there’s no need to live in fear or condemnation that God is out to get you…to punish you..
    Only believe that Christ Jesus died for you…. confess him as savior of your life, and you are hopelessly and irreversibly saved.

    Once you’ve accepted Christ as your savior, you are already judged in the body of Christ…meaning God is no longer looking at you to judge you, he’s looking at Christ. That’s why it’s important to know whose you are, because if you belong to self or some-other, it’s self or some-other that will be judged.
    Do you know, right now in this very moment, all that Christ is, so are you in this world… free from all sin, sickness, disease, lack etc.
    That’s why it’s important to bring into captivity all thoughts that are holding you captive by telling you otherwise.
    (This response is in part due to the above comment).

  • Arkenaten

    @Anna

    I just want to reiterate that God is a very loving father. God is Love. He loves us so much He sent his only Son to die for our sin.
    You’ll never know how much God Loves you until you realize how much he Loves his Son Christ Jesus.

    Anna, if your god was so loving why did he force Moses to commit all those atrocities and demand that Joshua exterminate the Canaanites?

  • Anna

    “My people perish for lack of knowledge”…. one can gain knowledge from reading, but wisdom comes ONLY from Almighty God.

    The way one sees God will determine how they receive from Him.
    Do you think of God as condemning and wanting to punish you at every opportunity? Or, do you think of Him as the most loving being that you could possibly know and trust that the trials and tribulations that you are going through are not without purpose. Can you see them as circumstances and events which the Master Creator has specifically designed to bring you to perfection? When you can see the loving hands of God shaping and molding you into His likeness, then you will be able to experience the joy that is set before you as you run life’s race with endurance. Amen

    • Anna

      I thought it was prudent of me to point out or clarify that sickness and disease are not of the Lord. No where do you find in the New Testament Jesus saying to a healthy person, ‘you’re too healthy come get a dose of sickness’. In fact, ALL who came to him, He healed.
      Just like salvation, our health & healing, provisions, etc. have already been paid for at the cross.
      Most of the trials & tribulations you will go through has its origins in the mind. That’s why the Bible tells us, we have to labor to enter into rest. That’s the only time we’re told to labor.
      The only fight we have is to fight to remain in faith, and our labor is to stay in rest.
      Please do not see yourselves as “grasshoppers” to the “giants” in your life… because God is on your side. He has commanded you to conquer and kill/defeat all the giants in your life.
      Depression is one such giant…Do you know how many people see themselves as grasshoppers in their own sight, to these giants?
      Know who your commander is and fight your battles bravely, and like Caleb and Joshua you will have a good report. You will want to take on your “giants” AT ONCE.

      Do you realize the land that the Israelites were entering (the promised land), God called it his rest.

  • Anna

    Belief is something you have to embrace from the heart. One cannot argue a person into belief. That said, I’ll answer your question for the benefit of those with a genuine desire to understand.

    Canaan – (bowed down) Fourth son of Ham, progenitor of the Phoenicians. The word is also translated “traffickers,” “merchant,” “the land of traffic,”
    “merchant people,” and in scorn by Hosea “he is a merchant; the balances of deceit are in his hand,” speaking of degenerate Israel. Ham, the younger son of Noah, behaved with indecent levity towards his father, becoming a shame and reproach to him in his old age and so Ham was
    punished in his youngest son for indecent levity, shameless profligacy and insufferable abominations, have poisoned the whole line, taking the
    shape and plea of religion, the most hateful being worshiped as the most holy. Mt. Lebanon is now the harbor of the most revolting types of idolatry,
    the relics of antiquity. (BRS).

    Exactly what were the conditions that resulted in giants being formed?
    GEN 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
    GEN 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
    GEN 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

  • Anna

    GEN 6:5 And GOD (Elohim) saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
    GEN 6:6 And it repented the LORD (Yahweh) that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
    GEN 6:7 And the LORD (Yahweh) said, I will destroy man, … for it repenteth me that I have made them.

    What happened to these sons of God (Elohim) that caused them to reject the vine and fig tree of the daughters of heaven and instead marry the daughters of men and produce giants? Well, wait a minute, you may say, how do you even know that there were “daughters in heaven” – I can’t even find this term written in this way? Well, first, the scriptures do mention
    the daughters of the Lord Almighty in ICor 6:18 and the Yahweh Elohim speaks of His daughters in Isa 43:3 – 6. However, you may be right. A better way of describing the relationship between these sons and daughters may to describe the relationship that they had in their youth before the sons of Elohim were drawn to the earth.

  • Anna

    Do you see that, everything that a man does first emanated as a THOUGHT.
    The natural man has legalistic hard thoughts towards God and his Son.

    God is love and those who are in Christ experience true love, joy, peace, gentleness, patience, kindness etc. They have no choice… these are the fruits of the Spirit.
    Every seed planted will bear fruits in its kind.

    Only when you see the goodness of God will it lead you to repentance. Repentance just means changing your mind.
    Change your mind about God. He’s not an angry wrathful God. He has expended his wrath in punishing His only Son Jesus for you and I, so that we will never be punished.
    God cannot punish sin twice. He’s already imputed our Sin in the body of his Son and has punished Christ, so we will never be punished. Believe it.

    For God SO LOVE the world that He gave his only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believe in Him will not perish but have Everlasting life.
    May God Bless you.

  • Noel

    Anna, you seem to have a lot of knowledge about the Bible. I applaud you. However, many of the things you said implies that God punishes those who practiced idolatry. And I see this as limiting God’s love. If God is truly an all loving God, beyond our comprehension, why do we tend to picture him functioning like we humans do? I hear people say all the time that God is a loving God, but He is also just…. Which one is it? What about grace? I believe God is beyond our comprehension, which is why I think his characteristics are supernatural. The beauty of it , I think, is that I believe that we were called to be more like God, and less like our human nature. How can we do this? By first denying ourselves (sounds familiar?) , meaning, rejecting our selfish nature and embracing those characteristics that are not human in nature, such as unlimited grace, mercy, forgiveness, charity, etc. This is what Jesus described as the “narrow path.” These characteristics, which I call The Kingdom of Heaven, are what will lead us into true Salvation. From what? From our selfish nature. I agree when you wrote that depression is caused by our thoughts. If we focus too much on the past and have no hope for the future, then we can experience depression. But if we focus on the present, and appreciate what we have in front of us, then our feelings will be different. I also think that if we think that we are nothing but accidental beings created by chance, then our values and purposes are short lived and temporary. They really mean nothing no matter how much we try to convince ourselves they mean something. There would be no hope. But if we think that we are part of a greater cause (even if we don’t completely understand it), then our existence is beyond our human limitations. There is hope. Thanks for commenting and sharing your ideas.

  • Anna

    Noel, you are right in your description of the characteristics of God.

    I was pointing out the difference between the old covenant (living under the Law) vs. the new covenant (living under Grace) (in answer to Ark’s question-and since I’m on that topic it wasn’t the singular act of idolatry why they were judged. They were demon possessed, they sacrificed their children, and other things I do not wish to write here).

    When you speak of God’s love, an unbeliever usually asks…”If your God is so loving then why x,y,z?” So I was trying to explain that the two covenants cannot be mixed, they’re incompatible. And people who do not see, recognize, or understand this usually have hard, legalistic feelings toward God because of misunderstanding.
    The Law makes you self occupied :Grace makes you Christ occupied.
    The Law demands righteousness from man: Grace imparts righteousness to man.
    The Law condemns the best of us: Grace saves the worst of us.

    As I said before, in this dispensation (Grace) God doesn’t punish sin anymore; because he’s already punished it in His Son Christ Jesus. This is the Gospel- the good news of salvation. The good news is – it’s not about you receiving Christ. Christ has already accepted you.
    The question is have you accepted him… will you believe you are accepted by him.
    This poet says it beautifully: “I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty.”

    God loves each and everyone of us the same. Believer, non-believer. We belong to him, we are accepted by him unconditionally. We are Righteous, Free and Holy because of who we are in Christ.
    In Adam ALL die. In Christ ALL live.

    Now, the person who does not believe these things, all it does is rob them of the freedom, peace, joy, love, over-abundance that is found only in Christ. (If your spouse or child doesn’t believe that you love them even though you love them with all your heart, their approach to life will be very different than if they believe and are secure in that knowledge)

    Love is defined as not our love for God, but His love for us.
    It’s not enough to know God loves us.. we must believe
    1John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath for us.
    God Bless.

    you = the collective)

  • Noel

    “Christ has already accepted you…the question is…will you believe you are accepted by him …?”
    These are words that touched my heart. I will ponder on them… thank you for your kind words.

  • Anna

    “But I have been questioning what exactly is the “good news” that Jesus came to teach. ”

    Hi Noel, I took the above quote from your June 2011 post (Is God’s Grace Unlimited…) which is quite in-depth and thoughtful.
    I’m happy that your heart was blessed by the above words.

    No one knows the full nature of God. As we seek him daily He imparts His Wisdom and knowledge to us in measures (revelation by revelation). We cannot get it all at once as the carnal mind would not be able to survive it.
    (Just as the rain falls in droplets so it doesn’t damage even the tiniest of flowers likewise wisdom is imparted in doses. Just imagine if all the water in the clouds were to fall in one big drop- it would damage, buildings, cars, people, plants etc. It’s the same with wisdom).

    Continue to seek the full nature of God, and thanks for your ministry.

  • driftingindividual

    I’m an atheist. This post is brilliant – I have thought about this concept previously myself. I do feel a sense of meaningless – although I wouldn’t say I was depressed as I try to ignore the fact life is meaningless, I would certainly say I envy those of faith.

    • Noel

      Driftingindividual, thanks for commenting and sharing such an intimate part of your life. Most atheists would resist the idea of meaninglessness in their lives… mainly because they claim they can create their own meaning. You seem to be more flexible about this topic and I applaud you for it. I have also tried to be flexible and inclusive, by admitting that many teachings of today’s church simply do not make sense, and considering other teachings outside of the Christian doctrine. I have struggled with the idea of a punishing God, for instance, and the limitation of God’s grace from the teaching of the exclusiveness of “salvation” through Jesus alone. But dismissing the existence of God is premature and arrogant, in my opinion. How can I conclude that God does not exist simply because it does not meet my personal standards (if God existed, there would be no evil) ? God is too great for me to put Him in a box.

  • driftingindividual

    Reblogged this on lostoutthoughts and commented:
    Thought provoking. Atheism in relation to depression is certainly a curiosity of mine.

  • Anna

    Hi Noel, with regards to the above statement: “I have struggled with…the limitation of God’s grace from the teaching of the exclusiveness of “salvation” through Jesus alone.

    The children of Israel wandered the wilderness for 40yrs without realizing what they had.
    They complained about the manna – which was Christ, the bread of life. John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger
    They complained about the water- which Christ is the living water. John 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

    They complained because they didn’t see Christ as enough. They were never contented with who they were in Christ. They were never satisfied that He is more than enough for them.

    Sometimes we’re in the wilderness because we’re not satisfied with who we are in Christ and we don’t have Christ as our source, and so we keep looking for someone/something to be that source of truth and if we’re not careful we will move from person to person to person trying to find an answer, one that feels right and end up living by the way that seems right instead of the way that is righteousness in Christ.

    “God’s Word is ultimate truth. That’s what Jesus was telling His disciples. In John 14:4, He said, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Then Thomas said, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (verse 5) In verses 6-7, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” Notice what Jesus said here. He didn’t say, “Wouldn’t it be nice to know the Father and see Him? “He said from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him” (verse 7). That’s a declarative statement, a statement of fact.”

    Truth is a person. It’s Jesus Christ. Jesus is THE way, The truth, and Life.

    Ask yourself the following questions:
    Why isn’t Jesus enough?
    How does one live the Kingdom without Christ?
    How would we have known the heart of God except Jesus revealing it to us?
    Who else do you think or propose that salvation can be obtained through and how will this be accomplished?
    When we pray to God, in whose name do we pray.
    Can a demon or spirit be cast out in any other name other than the name of Jesus?
    Can a person be healed in any other name than the name of Jesus?
    Do not disbelieve…Everything bows to the name of Jesus.
    Jesus is not just a prophet as some like to say. He is MESSIAH.

    Matt 16:15-17 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
    16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
    17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

    When you come into the kingdom you don’t live by your feelings or you’ll live by what feels right. The mission of living the kingdom is destroying hell here on earth. Heaven is just the destination.
    How does one destroy hell on earth? using the authority, power, and dominion restored to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
    It is our responsibility to be Christ-like on earth (Walk in Love) so others can see Christ in us and come to the Father.
    John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

    God’s grace is not limited, it’s available to everyone equally. As I’ve asked before, why would the fish in the water go thirsty?
    We all have to respond to God’s grace through faith. No one should be trying to attain salvation or anything else. Our responsibility is to walk in what has ALREADY been attained. Faith is walking in what has already been attained.

    P.S. The Holy Spirit convicts and corrects… the devil condemns.

    Continue to walk in love. God Bless.

  • Anna

    I found this after I posted and figured since it speaks to the issue I’ll just put it here.

    “The Word of God…and Then Some

    Notice the word “perfect.” That means there is no plan B or plan C. You don’t have to learn by “hard knocks.” You don’t have to get it by special revelation. You don’t have to have an angel teach it to you. You don’t need anything else. God’s Word will make you perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. God’s Word will supply you with everything.

    Yet, most of us don’t believe that. Most of us don’t turn to God’s Word to supply us with everything. Most of us don’t go to God’s Word for every answer in our lives. Most of us use God’s Word as kind of a foundation, a basic principle, but for day-to-day living, we think we need more than that. That’s not true.

    God’s Word has an answer for everything. Everything you will ever deal with is found in God’s Word. Jesus was saying, “I’m everything. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. If you know me, you know the Father.” The disciples said, “No, Lord, that’s not enough. Give us one more thing &mdash a visible look at the Father — and that will satisfy us.”

    If you put a carrot on a stick and hang it out in front of a horse’s head, that horse will go for it. But every time he takes a step, the carrot moves. It’s always just out of reach, and it keeps on moving. That’s the way the devil is. The devil always tells you, “If you just had this or that from the Lord, if you just had this experience, if you just had that vision, if you just had this dream, if God would just do this for you.” He’s always dangling something in front of you, telling you that you need more. But you don’t need anything else. The Word of God will make you perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    Let me emphasize that. You don’t need anything more than the Word of God!

    God’s Word has a complete answer for you, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances. The problem is that we don’t know what the Word says. And the things we do know, we don’t meditate on. We let them slip so that we lose the revelation of it. God’s Word is powerful, but it’s something you can’t understand just mentally. You have to let it soak down inside of you. It has to take root before it begins to release power.”

    From Andrew Wommack Ministries.

  • Jack Saunsea

    Personally, I think depression has little to do with one’s claim of belief in God, as when I say “belief in God” that is such a wide-ranging statement throughout cultures, societies, and people with an immense number of variables that may or may not be encouraging depression in their lives.

    As you’ve said, I also think it comes down to “what or who is God?” If we believe in God as the authoritarian, but benevolent ruler whereas we view ourselves as the “poor shameful sinner” I would see how that belief may be cause for depression., So many Christians attach the “sinner” label to themselves and then wonder why they’re depressed. Which does little to live as Christ in the world.

    Atheism, like Christianity, has a very wide-range of people and viewpoints. The Atheist who came out of Christianity and makes it their mission to convince people to stop believing, I would think is likely to be susceptible to depression, not because they “left the faith” but because they are bitter towards others. Whereas, there are those who claim the title of “Atheist” yet do not hold bitterness towards others, and they are generally pretty happy people.

    In conclusion, it has been my experience that those do not have an agenda to change others, but simply listen and converse compassionately with love and understanding, are those who most at peace. Whatever the terms they may have chosen to apply to their identity.

  • N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ

    Hi Noel, your post was thought provoking, but a subject often brought up among believers. I will share with you that my husband/partner was one of the most devout Christians I’d ever known, besides myself, with a deep faith in God. He committed suicide.

    ” All I know is that life must have a meaning and a purpose in order to be worthwhile.”

    To be alive is meaningful — yet so many people believe that this life is a dress rehearsal for another life. IMO, that is a travesty. You have no guarantees that there is an afterlife, and it may be that this is the only life we get. That makes every second, precious. You made the following comment to another poster:

    ” I think, is that I believe that we were called to be more like God, and less like our human nature. How can we do this? By first denying ourselves (sounds familiar?) , meaning, rejecting our selfish nature and embracing those characteristics that are not human in nature, such as unlimited grace, mercy, forgiveness, charity, etc

    It’s a common indoctrination that actually exacerbates distrust of humans. It’s also one of the reason why nonbelievers are feared in America, and distrusted on the same level as a rapist. Believers have been indoctrinated to believe that nonbelievers can’t be moral unless they believe in god. I know — I was a Christian for years, and rarely missed a church service. That is not at all what child development and neurological studies show. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say. That you can’t see human goodness unless it’s attached to something you deem supernatural is enough to make anyone depressed. But again, your belief is not uncommon.

    Humans are not special. When I realized this, I gained such an appreciation for life. Life has become more meaningful to me as a nonbeliever. Life has purpose because life is precious. After my painful deconversion, I saw life through different eyes, and I was humbled but I was also awed at what I had not seen as a believer. I also felt shame for being so haughty all those years, thinking I was special — better than other species on this planet. If you look around, you can see goodness, caring, and merciful acts in other animals. I witnessed it my whole life, but couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Goodness is all around you if you could but perceive. I’ve watch video after video of animals caring of other animals of a different species.

    This has also been observed in the wild without any human intervention. But there are so many other acts of compassion from wild animals that have been witnessed. Even wild animals saving humans. Stating that humans can’t be merciful, forgiving, and unselfish, etc., unless we become nonhuman, and take on some supernatural power is simply false. As I shared with you on another blog, humans have mirror neurons, as do many mammals, which means we and other species have the capacity for empathy, compassion, charity, and yes — even mercy and forgiveness. We are the product of our environment. I know you mean well, but you are a part of the problem and make life seem less meaningful when you assume that to have these attributes is unnatural.

  • N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ

    Noel — I think you will like this video (The Empathic Civilization). It’s an excerpt of a fascinating hour+ long lecture I watched by Jeremy Rifkin. It discusses some of the research I shared with you about human nature. —- http://youtu.be/l7AWnfFRc7g — This clip is just under 11 minutes.

    • Noel

      Neornotes, I liked the video. Thanks for sharing. C.S. Lewis would say that empathy is one of the characteristics that God gave us, even though it would not exist in heaven, but it certainly is needed here on earth (the same as forgiveness is not needed in heaven). And, even though some animals may also experience it by observing other beings , their “empathy” may simply be a basic instinct a lot less complicated than what we humans can do with our version of empathy (create world peace, lasting relationships, communities, etc). And, even if animals can have empathy, it still does not automatically disprove the possibility that we are all wired by a higher being beyond our comprehension. Could we be characters of a story written by an unseen author? Or entities of someone else’s imagination…? Hmmm…

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