The Psychology of the “Fair-Weather” Believer


Nigel Barber is an author, blogger and biopsychologist . . . wait a minute, what’s a biopsychologist? I looked it up and apparently it’s a real branch of psychology; it is: “The branch of psychology that studies the biological foundations of behavior, emotions, and mental processes,” i.e., how what’s happening in your life effects your thinking and your actions.

Nigel Barber has published an article in the “Huff Post” blogs titled: “Big Government Kills Religion.” I found this title particularly interesting because I’ve argued for years that Religion is the poison pill that has destroyed fair, equitable and rational government, but I had never really considered the effect of government on religion.

Mr Barber proves his thesis pretty well by citing statistics that show that, in his words:

“It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives. In an earlier study of 137 countries, I found that belief in God was higher in countries with a heavy load of infectious diseases, making life difficult and uncertain. Moreover, fewer people believed in God in wealthy and well-educated countries where life is easier. Countries with a more equal distribution of income – and hence less social problems had more atheists. Atheism was higher for countries with a well-developed welfare state (as indexed by high taxation rates). [see *NOTE].

Assuming that Mr. Barber’s thesis: “Big Government Kills Religion” is 100% accurate what does that tell you about religious people. It is more of an indictment of religion than it is of government (large or small). It suggests to me that people use religion as a “crutch” not as a firm, honest belief. To them, the existence of their God, their religious texts and their belief in an afterlife are just medicine to see them through the “sick” times; but when ‘the “patient” is “well,” the “medicine” sits on the shelf over the bathroom sink, just as the ‘religious text’ sits in a drawer; until, that is, it is needed again at the moments just before death.

*NOTE: Mr. Barber, tends to prove his ignorance of Atheism with statements like this: “Countries with a more equal distribution of income – and hence less social problems had more atheists.” If anyone were to think about it, they would realize that social problems or the existence or non-existence of a welfare state have very little to do with true Atheists; these things might, however, effect how much supposed ‘believers’ bother to embrace their religion. People who go to church and pray during the hard times and forget religion during the good times are NOT Atheists, they are “fair-weather believers.”.


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