5th March 2013

“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.”

George Bernard Shaw1856 – 1950

7 Responses to “5th March 2013”

  1. The Heretic Says:

    And on that note, a drink sounds to be in order.

  2. r j Says:

    HERETIC…………… a man after me own heart !

  3. Dan Says:

    TH, I’ll drink to that!

  4. Panzerbjørn Says:

    And interestingly, I’m pretty sure I read some research recently that believers are actually not happier…

  5. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    I always thought this “fact” was a myth. I’m an optimist and I think I’m very happy. The certainty of reason gives me great comfort, the biggness of the universe makes me feel safe, the great body of knowledge humans have accumulated gives me hope.

    If I were to be relying upon a two thousand year old myth which failing faster every day I think I should feel threatened, or at the very least as if all I had put my trust in was evaporating.

    Sure the drunk/sober analogy works, but most of the time drunk/sober is a simple matter. Having your faith crumble under your feet, a sink hole swallowing you whole, that is something likely to drive you nuts.

    Perhaps this explains all the violence in the name of god?

  6. D Says:

    At face value the comparison of a drunken man to a believer is rather witty and laughable.

    Looking deeper however, one must consider the following?

    1) Are drunks really happy?
    2) Why does their happiness seem to depend on their drinking?
    a) To cope with life’s adversities?
    b) To escape from dealing with life’s adversities?
    c) Is it a form of self-medication for some personal pain they feel?
    3) Do drunks only appear happier when they are drunk?
    4) What happens to the drunk’s happiness when they are not drunk?
    5) is their happiness dependent upon their drinking? Can they be happy without drinking without some sort of help or 12 step program?

    Then compare that to similar questions for the believer.

    1) Are believers really happy?
    2) Why does their happiness seem to depend on their believing?
    a) To cope with life’s adversities?
    b) To escape from the existential realities of life?
    c) Is it a coping mechanism for the pain and fear they feel?
    3) Do believers only appear happier when they believe?
    4) What happens to the believer’s happiness when they stop believing?
    5) Is the believer’s happiness dependent upon their believing. Are they addicted to believing? Can they be happy when the stop believing, without some form of help?

    The comparison between drunken men and believers probably goes much deeper than these points above. The deliberate giving up on logic, reason, and thought, the “high” people get from being drunk or deep in a deeply religious state of mind, etc.

    I also suggest that Mr. Shaw is correct and knows exactly what he is doing here when he states these facts are not to the point. The facts that drunken men and believers are happier OVERALL [emphasis mine] by comparison to the sober and the skeptic are completely wrong.

  7. D Says:

    Again, the context surrounding the quote does add clarity.

    “Now though the state of the believers in the atonement may be the happier, it is most certainly not more desirable from the point of view of the community. 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 of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life. Whether Socrates got as much happiness out of life as Wesley is an unanswerable question; but a nation of Socrateses would be much safer and happier than a nation of Wesleys; and its individuals would be higher in the evolutionary scale. At all events it is in the Socratic man and not in the Wesleyan that our hope lies now.” ~ George Bernard Shaw, Preface to Androcles and the Lion: On the Prospects of Christianity