I was sitting in Adolescent Psychology class this morning and the topic was "self-esteem." About half-way through the class, the girl in front of me suggested that "more spiritual [which to theists means more religious] people have higher self-esteem than less spiritual [ie less religious or non-religious] people."


As most of us know, this is an extremely common theist argument against non-theists, particularly atheists. And, although I think the girl truly believed what she was saying...


But, the fact is that I REALLY disagree with her on this!


Having been a former theist myself, I think it's more likely that religion [especially the monotheistic ones] impose low self-esteem on a person rather than bolster it!


After all [and since I came from Christianity I will use that as an example], what type of messages does Religion send it's believers?


- I am not worthy of your love, Christ.

- Why do you love me?

- I'm a sinner.

- Jesus died to save my sins, therefore I deserve to burn in hell.

- I must humble myself before the Lord.

- Pride is a sin.


How in the world do those kind of messages correlate with positive self-esteem?!
It seems to me that they would do the opposite and make a person who is a TRUE believer [there are fakes among them, of course] think they'r worthless.


However, this argument, and similar ones [like religion makes people happier then not having one] sound like baseless, bogus, and more manipulative attempts to use emotion and fear to turn people to religion! Afterall, who does not fear unhappiness? It doesn't seem to matter to a lot of religious people whether these claims are true or not... it only matters that they create more sheep [or slaves - whichever you want to call it] for their religion.


I see a lot of immorality and base cruelty in decieving people like this. [Although I don't think the girl was attempting to decieve people, I think she was one of the poor saps that believed the BS spouted from theologian mouths. And I feel sorry for her. - Which is how I tend to feel for a lot of religious people of late, sorry for them.]


I think non-theism, on the other hand, lifts someone's self-esteem. It gives us an incredible amount of power to control our own destiny and our own lives, it helps us to see through BS [whether it comes from religion or popular culture], and it raises the value of humanity above "god" giving us an incredible sense of self-worth.


So... with that said... it is clear to me... that this religious jibber-jabber is founded on nothing and sounds supiciously like an outright lie.

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If less spiritul and non-religious people have lower self esteem, its probably because they are constantly ragged on by the religious. Hearing "You're a bad person and you're going to burn in Hell" everyday probably isn't much of a confidence booster (even if you don't believe in hell, if thats how the people around you treat you its going to have an effect on your emotional state).
My point exactly! I would have thought that having to constantly blame yourself for "sins" which aren't really wrong would have NEGATIVE effects on self esteem.
Perhaps by self-esteem, she means more confidence that their beliefs will be reflected by society at large. That, at least, I could easily see as being possible.
As far as I can tell self-esteem is a first order derivative of self-deception. My "overall evaluation or appraisal of my worth" is quite a bit higher than my evaluation of your worth. Because I constantly lie to myself. See our peer Robert Trivers for the full story here.
High Self-Perception, Low Brain Activity February edition of the journal NeuroImage [article]

"Researchers have discovered the less you use your brain’s frontal lobes, the more you see yourself through rose-colored glasses... Those findings suggest that processing information in a more deliberate manner may be the way in which frontal lobe activation permits people to come to more realistic conclusions."

I feel just awful about posting this...
That's totally made up. There are no statistics that verify that. I think that the nonreligious would have a higher self-esteem because of the fact that we don't live with the burden of eternal damnation every waking moment of our lives
EXACTLY what I was thinking :D
It could very well be correct - here is a link to a paper and wiki article about a study that shows incompetent people overestimating their competence and competent people underestimating their's. I especially like the Bertrand Russell quote from Wikipedia: "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."


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