Thursday, March 31, 2011

Don't Forget, This IS Utah.

While we are trying to stay focused on atheism and relevant material on this blog, I feel it important to inform all of you readers that most of us, given our current geographical location, come from LDS backgrounds and therefore may unintentionally be bringing snippets of our Mormon histories into the content of our writings. We may even stoop to write posts specifically about the relationship between atheism and Mormonism! For shame!

But never fear. While we are interested in many things Mormon in nature, we also recognize that there are many of you out there who don't necessarily come from a LDS background, or perhaps some of you who may have come from a Mormon background but no longer wish to discuss all things Mormon. So, to all of you, be warned that there probably will be some discussion of Mormon things, but that we're attempting to not smother you in too much of that.

On that note, don't forget that this is not a closed group exclusive to atheists. Horus mentioned this in the first post, but again, we're here as a group welcoming all who are non-religious or transitioning away from religion. Or even those of you who might be trying to understand someone close to you who is currently transitioning away from religion. All we ask is for you to help us create a venue that is open to free thought and inquiry.

Speaking of Mormonism and atheism...

The Helpful, Happy Atheist

Many times when one loses his/her religion the first course of action is to mock, disrespect, and even hate the religion and its members from which one escaped. I too had my time when I despised all things religious but recent events have caused me to see things and the religious with a different perspective.

People, I believe, are inherently good and try to, for the most part, help each other out. There may be a few rotten apples that may seem to ruin the bunch but such is generally not the case. Within my own family there are a few who take a hard stand against who I am and what I disbelieve. They are always quick to both ask and omit my opinion in an attempt to garner others in my opposition and/or sway me from my stance. These, however, represent the minority. Most of my family and friends are quietly supportive, neutral, or are respectful in their opposing opinions.

In comparing my situation to that of others as well as what we see on a national scale I found that the majority of people are the quiet, respectful opposers instead of the often seen and televised, sign waving, hardliners. Generally they carry a Christ-like compassion and concern for those around them and truly only wish for others to be happy.

Wherein then can I fault them; for we both search for the same thing, happiness.

What does this means to the non-religious? The religious have given us great examples of both the bad and good side of themselves. We as non-believers have our poles as well. I for one do not want to be the type that continually battles religion, debating, denouncing, and deconverting. Where is the happiness in that? I'd much rather follow what my LDS mother has always taught me and "be an example." If people see the non-religious trying to help build unity and collective progress within society instead of attempting to demonstrate their own supposed superiority, we as a whole will be benefited and the non-religious will gain a positive public perception. Let us utilize constructive means of criticism, help where we can, and make the world as a whole a better place for both the believer and atheist.

So, as a portion of the Mormon missionary in me has never died, I would like to extend an invitation to all those who might read this. Please do something kind for someone who you might not agree with and post a comment below.

Note-I understand that not every atheist purports themselves as such but I fear that there are far too many who do not get over their anti-religious disdain.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are Religious People More Happy or Not?

This is a guest post I am doing for the Atheists of Utah Valley. Most likely I will put some extra work into a post about every week and then post it on my blog and their's. I wish to put forth that the credit for the AoUV blog lies with ‘Horus’ who also happens to be the one who has kept the FB group going. Cheers.

This post deals with this article: “Why are religious people happier?” Now, the podcast “Reasonable Doubts” approached this question in their “Profiles of the Godless” episode which I highly recommend to everyone; it was a very good presentation. Following the link to this article it becomes clear right away that social bonding seems to give more quality to life, as proven by other studies and in other podcasts than Reasonable Doubts.

It does not take too much critical thinking to look at this study and see that the correlations may not be a line up between A and B (the believer and their beliefs) but rather A and C (the believer and their fellow believers). This study claims that “forging close bonds with people over mutually shared and meaningful interests might boost quality of life for anyone, religious or not.” The article continues to say that a church offers a special type of community that other groups have a hard time being able to compare to.

Friendships and support do help people to help others more. It seems that religious groups may still have a upper hand on secular groups, but the difference has been found to be minimal in several studies, at least not statistically significant. But this is beginning to wander off topic.

Getting back to the article, the question comes up whether church makes people happy or whether happy people go to church? Certainly if people are not happy they most likely won’t go to church, or if they feel guilty due to doubts they probably also won’t be going to church that regularly. Often happy people will go to the places that at least ‘should’ make them happy.

The study had a large sample, and reports to having a large questionnaire. It is interesting to note that the study reported that personal health had more influence on their happiness than church attendance making the top two areas that promote happiness (at least in this study) health and community. So far it could be twisted to say that their beliefs had major influence but this is where the article moves on to the pertinent point I am looking for.

"People who say they go to church every week but say they have no close friends there are not any happier than people who never go to church.” Now, to help make sense of this when you have two different points of interest in a statistical survey and there is no difference between two points you can say that the correlation is extremely high. Correlation does not mean causation, but high correlation means there is a strong relation between the two, even if inversely.

The article ends with the prospective comment that ‘trust’ and a sense of ‘belonging’ may be what people look for in a community, and in that community people will generally feel more happiness and rewarded from those relationships. This won’t be true for all people, but it is true of the general population, and we all shouldn’t think we’re so unique as to not be in that general population.


Point is; religious people are not happier than non-religious people in any significant way. Many sample studies show that religious people who attend church will be slightly higher on the scale, but not in all cases. This study shows that the cause does not seem to be beliefs, but rather community, and atheists do not have the same type of community. Obviously community of some kind has a major affect on how you view life, and, in general, the number of friendships you have also has an effect.

This post, without any forethought, can probably be looked at in two specific ways – as a call to anyone who may wish to meet more like-minded people who you can talk openly with, especially if you are surrounded by friends who you no longer agree with or consistently have to bite your tongue while around. Second, it should point out that you should be careful how you approach psychological and social studies. They are full of generalizations that may only apply to you in differing levels of influence than the next person. Also that results can be twisted to mean other things, especially when you say A causes B without considering that C may in fact cause both.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I understand what you are thinking, "What is a movie review doing on an atheist page?" While I'll get to that in a second I must say that "Paul" is one of the funniest Simon Pegg and Nick Forst films I have ever seen. The film takes place as two British buddies are trying to hit all of the great American UFO sites on holiday. While on the road after visiting Area 51 the two are surprised by the classically-cliche shaped alien Paul. Paul however is not a "normal" alien. Brilliantly voiced by Seth Rogan, Paul is transformed into that crazy-funny college buddy who you will never forget. The movie continues with the three, along with a newly "converted" atheist, running away from the men in black, back to witch mountain. Now the reason that I believe this film deserves a place here is because of the writers clever, albeit blatant, addition of some great parts which poke fun of religion, specifically Christianity. All in all a film that will literally make you laugh your spaceman balls off and have to reinsert your anal probes. Recommendation-See it, see it now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Saga of Biorn

As atheists, we sometimes discuss the possibility of whether or not anything may or may not exist after this life. And many of us agree that while this seems fairly unlikely, who really knows?

The Saga Of Biorn from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.

It is hard to be sure, but perhaps the most frightening possibility is that there really will be some sort of heaven after we die, and when/if we get there, that we're not going to like it. Heaven, by the various accounts of I've heard/read of it, really doesn't sound that great at all.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Who We Are

Welcome to Atheists of Utah Valley. I sincerely hope that you find this blog and the group useful in improving your life in general but also your time in Utah. We are a group of people who were drawn together with the desire to create a community and social network of like-minded people (by like minded people one does not necessarily need be an atheist, just one of the many non-religious flavours). We like to meet regularly, enjoy discussing a variety of topics, and are passionate in helping others in their transition from religion. If you wish to have more information or to be added to the group please feel free to contact me and I will point you in the right direction.