Thursday, 20 November 2008
Is god belief good for your mental health, or bad? From the standpoint of self-esteem, I think a good case can be made (actually, it has been made) that Xianity in particular is bad for your mental health. Let me explain.
Xians are taught that we are all evil, that we are all not good enough, that we all deserve hell. This is a teaching that is going to have a negative effect on one's self esteem. True, many Xians mistakenly feel that god loves them, which should make them feel better, but should it? god supposedly loves them in spite of their failings. This is not a positive for humans, but a positive aspect of god, that he's willing to love even though we fail time and time again. We are still pretty worthless and undeserving - except that we deserve hell.
I'm sure we've all seen the cliche of the athlete after winning the big game, turning and giving all glory to god. This is merely a manifestation of this practice. Xians are conditioned to give away their best and attribute it to some external entity. It wasn't the hard work and skill and teamwork that got you the victory, it was some other entity that bestowed it upon you. You don't deserve the victory, god does. While, at the same time, Xians are taught to internalize all of our (humans) faults. When something goes wrong, do Xians ever blame god or look to god? No, they blame humans and themselves.
As an atheist, I don't have this problem. Sure, I err from time to time, and I can look at myself and realize that I did err, but I also can look at myself in triumph when I do something right and feel good about myself, because I know that I don't have to externalize all my accomplishments to some other entity. It's a good feeling and a better way to live.