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August 9, 2011 / Dr. Toad

How to not be depressed that the world is doomed

This was the search engine query that landed some troubled (I imagine) soul on these pages, probably reading this post.

I don’t have an answer to your question, seeker, save to say that the world will survive us. Humanity may be doomed but it will have been a fun ride, and the world will outlive us and maybe sprout something new and intelligent in the future. Each one of us is doomed too, eventually, but we may as well make the best of what we’ve got.

That, and knowledge. And beauty.

(I know, I’ve posted this Symphony of Science video before, but it’s awesome, so I’m doing it again.)


Leave a Comment
  1. Marcela Otero / Sep 13 2011 5:33 pm

    It seems that humans have that powerful imagination to create and lead others to feel a little comfort when the world loses all hope.

    However, as a Christian coach I had seen tremendous successful Testimony of restoration with the love of God.

    People do not want to know the spiritual part that could be the best choice of hope in this troubled world.
    Marcela Otero.

    • Dr. Toad / Sep 14 2011 4:18 pm

      Spirituality is certainly a powerful human drive, but I think it’s a mistake to assume it can be only satisfied through things like religious rituals, blind faith, or submission to a mysterious personal deity. There is an incredible, an awesome wealth of the sublime in the material universe, and your sense of the sublime doesn’t have to be tied in to religion.

      I’ve just done a cursory search for the relevant literature, and it seems that there isn’t a well-established link between religiosity and a sunny outlook. Here’s a review paper if you can spare $6 (McCullough & Larson, 1999): In any case, extrinsically motivated religious people seem to be at no less risk of depression than nonreligious people, according to Genia & Shaw (1991): Nelson et al (2002): — find that it’s the spiritual well-being rather than religious practice that leads to less risk of depression. I’m happy to find spiritual well-being in contemplating the sublime in the material universe.

      And even if religion were strongly associated with happiness, that alone wouldn’t be a good argument for espousing it. It could be (and I think it is) a fool’s paradise.

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