Monday, November 26, 2007

Theists and atheists less depressed than agnostics?

A letter in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine suggests that theism and atheism are both correlated with "fewer reported depressive symptoms than the in-between state of 'existential uncertainty'."

4 comments:

John Wilkins said...

Well, it's easier to be certain than to be right, I guess.

Einzige said...

How is calling oneself an atheist a claim to certainty?

In what way can the lack of knowledge about something be considered "right"? (I have a theory, but I'd like to know what you meant)

Jim Lippard said...

John's an agnostic who spells out his position in more detail here.

I don't think John is making the claim that theists or agnostics asset 100% confidence in their beliefs, only that they are more certain than agnostics. And I'm sure he's not making the claim that agnostics are right--only that they're properly refusing to answer "a question that merely has the form of an interrogative, but which admits of no answer even in principle."

But I disagree with that--surely if God exists he can demonstrate his existence, and many theists claim that he has, in fact, done so repeatedly. Religions *do* make empirical claims, even if they tend to backtrack from them when pressed.

Einzige said...

I suppose my first question was as much directed at the original article as it was at John's statement. At the risk of inviting proselytizers, I'll admit that I'm wracked by existential crises on a regular basis. (I should note that intellectually honest religious people should be, too. I mean, what if God's "plan" for us is equivalent to a lab tech's "plan" for a petri dish of bacteria?)

Regarding my second question, I assume that he meant it's only "right" to admit that certain knowledge in this realm is impossible, hence only agnostics are right. I can't be sure that's what he meant, though, so I'm agnostic about it.