Religion Is Nature’s Antidepressant | Robert Sapolsky


So when you look at the really unique bizarre
things humans have come up with, ranging from cave paintings to Snapchats and everything
in between, probably the most unique and universal thing we’ve come up with is this religion
business. We talk about the symbolic metaphorical thinking. Essentially there has been no culture on earth
that has not invented some form of what could be termed “meta-magical thinking,” attributing
things that cannot be seen, faith-based belief systems, things of that sort. It’s universal, and 90-95 percent of people
believe in some sort of omnipotent something or other out there. Every culture has it. People have endlessly speculated about the
evolution of religiosity, and at least in terms of westernized religions it makes perfect
sense why they’ve evolved: Because they’re wonderful mechanisms for reducing stress. It is an awful, terrifying world out there
where bad things happen and we’re all going to die eventually. And believing that there is something, someone
responsible for it at least gives some stress reducing attributes built around understanding
causality. If on top of that you believe there is not
only something out there responsible for all of this but that there is a larger purpose
to it, that’s another level of stress reducing explanation. If then on top of it you believe that individual
out there is benevolent—even more so control and predictability. Benevolent and listens to human entreaties? More elements of control. Benevolent, listens to human entreaties, and
prefers to listen to people like you who look like you, pray like you, request like you? Even more so. They’re just all these levels of control,
predictability; they’re stress reducing. And what is infuriating to me as an utter
complete atheist is a very, very solid literature showing the health benefits of religiosity,
independent of you tend to get a social supportive community. When you’re religious you have fewer lifestyle
risk factors. The mere ability to perceive causality, reason,
benevolence—“Benevolence especially for people like me if I say the right combination
of words and fervently believe in it”—that’s wonderfully protective and there’s health
benefits to it. If it is a totally heartless indifferent apathetic
universe out there you are far more at risk for all the logical things which is to conclude
it is an utterly depressing universe out there. Rates of depression are much higher among
atheists… Go figure. So in terms of that it makes perfect sense
why this is something that people have come up with and rather than asking why is it that
95 percent of humans come up with some form of religiosity, a much more biologically interesting
question to me is: What’s up with the five percent of atheists who don’t do that?

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Comments

  1. You have fallen short of perfection. People you love are going to hell. You can't have a career in science because it contradicts your beliefs. You can't bring yourself to sell everything. You don't understand why we can't kill homosexuals. People laugh at you for believing a 600 year old man built the largest wooden boat ever and got every creature in the world to fit, not starve and not die in the dark from the lack of ventilation. How is your stress now. I was first diagnosed with depression as a Christian. As an atheist I feel liberated. The view here seems to be people are idiots incapable of the truth. I hope not as the cost of abandoning science will create more stress.

  2. I never experienced peace or freedom while indoctrinated. Now that I've shed religion, I've never felt more free…pure…authentic. There is no longer the stress of rules or wondering why god didn't answer my prayers. I feel empowered by knowing that i alone am responsible for my life.

  3. I just found this channel and I love how professional Atheist and Theists give their opinion on the subject of religion without being offensive or pushing their beliefs onto others.

  4. Both ways are great. If there is no God we are on our own and decide everything which is awesome! If there is God on the other hand, we have been given even the instructions how to live life! The choice is yours. But please dont say that one of it is more certain than the other. Did you go yesterday to check out whats up outside the universe? Another thing if we think that we decide everything around and inside of us, why we just cant decide, you know what, from now on I want only good thoughts in my brain, no bad thoughts, thats it, bad thoughts and bad feelings out!? Both are great explanation of life, but atheism only teaches you theres no God and too much useless information that why do you need actually, if it doesnt matter anyway, just go there kill couple of people in your life or be proud gay, or just loose some caveman beard and look and talk like a mental. So thats why I choose Christianity, because not only it teaches me why things are how they are, but also how to become, look and act like real man. And then you can ofcourse study and learn many things from biology and chemistry as well.

  5. Religion is nature's antidepressant.

    Unless you get introduced to an angry, demanding, impossible to please God, in which case religion is another millstone around your neck and a source of immense stress.

  6. i don't think 95% of people come up with shit. maybe there's a god hole in people, maybe not, but where are these vast populations of people that were never exposed to the idea of religion and, therefore, came up with it?

  7. Not to diminish his factual observations. My free thinking actually fills me with the wonder and joy of the universe and all that it has to offer. If you are a human on earth you have won the cosmic lottery. Having been raised a catholic I have seen both sides and I prefer logic and reason over made up stories. We are a way for the universe to view itself.

  8. It may be acceptable that the human possess psychological attractions towards God's existence, every human who accepts are in the manner to trust on themselves in same a way who don't. Who's gonna lead in such scenario………..?

  9. This guy sounds like his first day on this planet, braindead biases.

    what is good about making up a goddess that loves to drink blood and declare a festival that officially allows thousands of innocent animals to be sluaghtred for some bizarre fuck sake!!
    or dump several feet tall statues into to the river/sea that pollutes, waste so much raw material and days of annoying rituals while giving a big flying fuck to law n order!!

    nobody will have any problem if religious beliefs are universal and subject to constant change but it's exactly the opposite.

    it needs an upgrade, because we live in changing times, with new needs

    if while growing up we believe in tooth fairies, we understand there is no such thing in adulthood then why so much pressure on having any made up beliefs when in deathbed?

    should we all also resort to Santa n tooth fairies when old enough?

    why it is so fucking hard to accept that there is no afterlife, we all die and it's a part of existence, everything comes to an end?

    things are utterly random, some get to live long, some die before the age of 5

    instead of justifying religion, work on socio-economic n political systems to curb corruption n inequality, so that everyone gets to live a comfortable life. Inspire people to innovate and cure diseases like cancer, aids, and neonatal diseases, mandatory free higher education, maintain a healthy lifestyle but NO!!! everybody wants to give head to their made up sky daddy because too egoistic to let go such ideologies. SMH!!

  10. I've been trying to re-believe in the Easter Bunny to reduce stress, but I feel terrible, really bad for failing at this. Perhaps I'm not trying hard enough? I hang out with first graders and we share our Easter Bunny inspired hopes and dreams, but when I go home or back to work, all the fun evaporates. I've really got to do this to lower my anxiety over the state of the world and the loss of my loved ones. Why has the Easter Bunny abandoned me to hopelessness? Oh, Peter Cottontail, why can't you be real?

  11. I don't want an illusion of control or predictability hiding reality from me in a super funky manner, why would I want to live a lie, just accept things as they are, be a positive force in the world for others, encourage them to do the same, simples, "in pratice"

    Why, I think they vastly overcomplicate things, when just realising nobody's puting any energy into undoing or preventing things, can open a window on proactivity in the world, what a group of individuals can come together & achieve.

  12. right, and so is cocaine, but the COMEDOWN and then DEPRESSION AFTER LONG TERM USE IS DEADLY AF. no, it's not an advantage in any way, shape, or form. it is trash.

  13. Many religious people are slowing down our way to technological singularity and transhumanism, so many religious people are evil. Also, spirituality can exist without religion.

  14. Is belief and more or less of a trade-off than marriage? One learns to associate abuse with security in most working class families. How is either one of the above any different if one suffers when belief (or marriage) fails?

  15. Very interesting to hear this and I appreciate the atheist point of view. It’s incredible to experience the vast ability of the human intellect in it’s fallen state to look everywhere except Christ. And that’s what this is. Religion is a word that could refer to anything and therefore has very little meaning. Good work though.

  16. I have nothing against people still wanting to believe in a god , I just don’t get why high priests are mortal as I, get treated like gods. Operating like a global conglomerate yet don’t have to pay tax in Australia, over AU$30 Billion assets in Australia alone in documents court case. One would wonder what is the charity portion from that? Or more exploitation and patchy excuses. My faith is humanity, I hope not too little too late

  17. when you still havent grown up, you need an authoritarian god for a mind bending solace, whilst writhing in pain. ultimately either making others suffer for your own (divine) life or getting crushed under the weight. i prefer a more benevolent world without religions, even at the price of not having illusory/false comfort.

  18. I believe in God because he’s made our history. It’s written down. The theory of evolution is an ASSUMPTION. The Holy Bible is the history. It’s easy to deny something you don’t believe in. It’s hard to have blind faith in something you can’t see.

  19. Either way, the living God came and spoke to me to come out of my sin when I was on the way to the hospital from a suicide attempt and THAT WAS REAL, no doubt. I hear from Jesus and he guides me everyday now. He is our God, and now I have so much joy and peace because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He truly saved me from my depression. No pill or therapy worked for me!

  20. I would like to share with you my thoughts, simplest way to do this and more fun is by using analogies. I ask you to be patient.
    Before we determine there is no God or there is a God, we need to know what is a “God”. Is it an old man with white beard? Is it something next to something else? Can we see him?/her?/it??? Can my five senses catch it?

    These all are old questions that logicians, philosophers, thinkers, natural scientists, behavioral scientists etc. historians… All have answered. Therefore, don’t worry, you will not be missing anything. Therefore, I ask you the following, this something I am asking myself as will, “make sure you are ready to accept the smartest answers”.

    You are here because you doubt the existence of God your parents, your friends, your neighbors, your teachers have told you about, Great. But do you doubt the criminality of your specie? Do you doubt that some of us rape? lie, steal, hate, kill, envy, want to control and dominate? Do you doubt that there are some of us because of their lies there were ethnic cleansing, genocides, other terrible things?

    Because we do not doubt our predisposition to be careless about our reasonableness, we need to make certain we are functional ‘machines’ before we hit this subject or any subject really. Physically, physiologically, logically and intellectually. We do this by following certain paths which are known to many but not all.

    An example, the science has discovered that the brain does not fully mature until we reach 29 or 30 years old. Therefore, until then do not choose a team and a go all radical about it believes. This is only from one angle but doesn’t this sound reasonable?
    We all are eager to joins teams and be radical about its orientations under the believe we are changing the world to be better place. But, in reality, there is a very high chance we are doing the opposite. This is truer when it comes to teenagers.

    In summary, all I am saying, before we throw the CD for not working, let us make sure the CD player is working. This is a must no matter what was the CD. Because after all, you are going to play something anyway. And it is your duty as a member of the living society to be logical and fare on a personal level and public level.

    In the end, we all live together on this earth and we need more rational individuals not radicals. And believe me, many of the pains in this world in the past and in the present are started from radicals/(logically,intellectually and Internally mistaken people).

  21. "The opiate of the masses"  (People in cults think they are special and secure.)  (A lot of stress comes from the human imagination and relieving it is the same subconscious thing)  I'm an atheist, but I am not in the atheism cult.  I don't think I'm special and I am secure enjoying the happy surprises in life and the human comedy.

  22. Intelligence comes with a price, and that price is arrogance. The most brilliant human human mind is a pea-brain compared to our creator. How is the sun set in perfect distance as is the moon?(God) Are the gases we that are so vital us just in accidental perfect balance?
    Check

  23. Anyone else think the honorable and very clever Doc should have an
    LSD or guided Ayahuasca trip
    ……all in the interests of broadening his scientific repetoire of course. 😉

  24. I find it arrogant to be an atheist, knowing so little one knows about everything around, there are many things left to be unearthed.

  25. If there were no G-d it would be necessary for us to invent Him, ourselves, the world and everything in existence. The coincidence that following His commandments has benefits is a big fat duh.

  26. Religion exists for many reasons. Many people can't live happily without a faith because there situation in life is less than ideal. While an atheist can be rich or poor. It's better to be wealthy any be faithless than it is to be poor and be one. Many people in poverty never leave poverty. For many if they don't believe in something better life generally becomes miserable. Many scientific individuals have held strong religious beliefs along with their knowledge. Through introspection and analysis many of these people concluded why they believed. As an agnostic I don't believe atheism is a reasonable stance it's an assumption. Any who says they know for certain there are no deities is a liar. If you truly do know then I would personally love to know what the answer is as would everyone else.

  27. The rate of depression is much higher among atheists?
    Not so fast.
    I do get the mechanism of stress reduction by religious thinking (ignoring the fact that religious type thinking is the lifeblood of warfare and opression).
    If that was a general principle, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden would have to be shaken to bits by depression, but this is not the case.
    My suspicion: Professor Sapolsky is talking about the US.
    In the US, atheists are given a hard time by the religious majority, to put it mildly.
    Might that be a reason why atheists are more likely to fall into that hellhole that is depression?

  28. People in affluent stable societies have the luxury of atheism. That also explains the creeping depression in those societies where atheism is being spread. In a sense, the strong are poisoning the weak with the weapon of atheism and you have survival of the fittest.

  29. Having been on both sides of the fence, I Can Say with Certainty that 'I Don't Know any better' . I cannot say with absolute certainty that there isn't a higher power , an all powerful being, nor can I say that there does exist such an all powerful being with absolute certainty, for i don't know any better. I can only poke really small holes at the fabric of the working of the world and only try to understand the mechanics of the world with my limited sense of observation and intellectual capabilities , my inherent human frailities and insecurities. I can just have empathy for people on both sides of the fence and reserve my judgements.

  30. Having been on both sides of the fence, I Can Say with Certainty that 'I Don't Know any better' . I cannot say with absolute certainty that there isn't a higher power , an all powerful being, nor can I say that there does not exist such an all powerful being with absolute certainty, for i don't know any better. I can only poke really small holes at the fabric of the working of the world and only try to understand the mechanics of the world with my limited sense of observation and intellectual capabilities , my inherent human frailities and insecurities. I can just have empathy for people on both sides of the fence and reserve my judgements.

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