A Drunken Man Is Happier Than a Sober One
by Jeff McInnis
So Mr. Shaw here says that happiness is not the goal. Interesting. Other atheist writings have said that atheism provides greater happiness than religion because the atheist is released from the obligation to their Creator and is free to live their life.
It was Penn Jillette, an atheist, who said “Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o, and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.” So his belief in atheism gives him “the best life [he] will ever have”? He is obviously interested only in his own enjoyment. How better to increase your enjoyment than a constant state of drunkenness without consequence?
You see, the Atheist wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to say out of one side of his mouth that he wants to be as happy as possible in this life and that atheism provides the greatest happiness. Out of the other side of his mouth he wants to say that the happier life lived by the Christian is of no interest because its delusion is akin to drunkenness. Either they want to be happy or they don’t. While Penn Jillette may not be a high-powered atheist thinker, he has summarized the belief of many atheists who state they are happier by letting go of God and living life based on the material only.
Are Atheists happier? Peggy Noonan, writing in Forbes in 1992, explored this exact question: Why are we so unhappy? The following excerpt is from Ms. Noonan’s response:
“I think we have lost the old knowledge that happiness is overrated-that, in a way, life is overrated. We have lost, somehow, a sense of mystery—about us, our purpose, our meaning, our role. Our ancestors believed in two worlds, and understood this to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generations of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth, and our search for it has caused such—unhappiness. The reason: If you do not believe in another, higher world, if you believe only in the flat material world around you, if you believe that this is your only chance at happiness—if that is what you believe, then you are disappointed when the world does not give you a good measure of its riches, you are despairing.”
Are Atheists despairing? According to PhilosophyForums.com, a well-used forum on matters of religion and philosophy, suicide rates are highest among atheists and lowest among those with a religious affiliation. Is suicide a byproduct of extreme happiness?
I know Mr. Shaw’s quote is merely an analogy. While I’m tempted to give Mr. George Bernard Shaw a pass regarding his quote, I cannot. Had I decided to look the other way, I would have done so because all analogies break down sooner or later. All analogies become inadequate upon inspection. A good one will remain germane for some time; its inadequacy will show up only after some significant thought.
I cannot, however, give Mr. Shaw a break regarding this quote because this analogy breaks down immediately upon the most cursory analysis. Drunkenness is a temporary state of happiness. It is characterized by a temporarily bliss followed up by significant misery. The misery, in my opinion, more than makes up for the bliss. This is more than just an opinion, since most people are not drunks. If they are they seek help because the misery of their condition outweighs the benefits. That is the definition of a disease. If it were not the case, we would not have invented Alcoholics Anonymous, The Schick Shadel Hospital, and the Betty Ford Clinic.
I believe it is actually the atheist who is closer aligned with the drunkard. Atheists must continually drink deeply of their desire that God is nonexistent to numb their senses that point out their error. They must continually anesthetize themselves against the material world that shouts the proof of a Creator. They must take repeated shots of the strong drink of hateful thought and speech. Like the drunkard, their altered and abnormal state makes them see the world in a dazed, confused sort of way. From that vantage point, I suppose many things look different than they are. Happiness looks like delusion, misery looks like fun, and truth looks like folly. Remaining in this state, hateful toward the truth, allows them to avoid the temporary misery of realizing how wrong they are. Of course our loving Lord would end their temporary misery for them if they would only ask.
I hope and pray they dry out before their life comes to an end. Temporary hangovers are bad, permanent ones are hell.
RECOMMENDED FOR FURTHER READING: