I think it's because it's a lot less stressful to have a bible to fall back on. It can cause depression, all this thinking for yourself and researching. Also, religion allows many people a support system, whereas a lot of atheists stay in the closet.
I know it would give me a lot of false comfort to think that everything bad that happens in my life is part of God's plan and not due to chance/my own stupidity.
It's stress-related, I believe. One thing that religion is good at is forming communities, and it has been shown that having an active social life (friends, community, etc) can decrease stress and foster healthier living. Not to mention having those other people to lend a hand if you do get sick.
I'm gonna check out that podcast now, it sounds really interesting and the only podcasts I currently listen to are for TV shows (Heroes and Smallville) lol. Also I too found the report really fascinating so thanks for sharing! :D
Alright, I already started listening to the newest episode of Reasonable Doubts, and have been enjoying it, I'm downloading episode 11 now, and I also just added The Skeptics Guide To The Universe to my podcast subscriptions in itunes. :D When I travel home for winter break tomorrow (I'm going on an airplane so there'll be a lot of potential ipod-listening-time from getting on the metro on the way to the airport all the way to the drive home from the airport once I get to my destination) I'll have plenty of awesome stuff to listen to. So thanks! :D
Good wording, Dave. Also, Helen Fisher mentioned a theory in "The Anatomy of Love" that women lived longer than men because they were more "useful" biologically, meaning they helped raise their grandchildren back in the caveman days. Her overall point is that you live longer if you feel needed, and being a part of that church social group can be a huge part of feeling useful and needed by others.
It disappoints me greatly, but past psychological studies have largely shown that religion has a positive effect on people, health-wise. The reason it grates me, is because this appears to be a "weapon" that can be used against atheists. However, I feel that the tides will change. Being openly atheistic in modern Western societies has only become semi-acceptable within the last couple of years. It is no wonder that studies throughout the past decades would reflect that people who did not adhere to any religion were a bit more stressed and unhappy.
Ralph, that was a wonderful post. My take on it is that religion serves as one of many forms of mental aroma therapy. But it doesn't work for everybody.
I would also add that emotional stress plays a huge role in physical health. And I believe that is compounded by the deficit theory view that our society is built on. For example, compare how deficit theory plays out in the secular as well as the religious minds:
[Christian fundamentalist respone to suffering]: "You just didn't pray hard enough/live righteously enough to remain in God's favor."
[Secular response to injustice/suffering]: "You're just a loser who failed to succeed because you didn't try hard enough."
See the similarity? Both are from a deficit theory perspective. Deficit theory is the foundation of Calvinist Protestant Christianity and American classism.
I'd like to see that study. How do they define religious involvement? Were any actual Atheists involved, or was it just among Christians who either go to church or don't?
I think that's an important point, because if my assumption is correct the study doesn't say that religion helps prevent disease, but rather than having a strong social network and a clear feeling of purpose do - these are two things that are now becoming available to Atheists as well as more and more Atheist groups are springing up. Will we see that higher involvement in Atheist groups is similarly associated with lower rates of cancer, heart disease, and stroke once these groups become more established?
I'd like to see that study, too. And I'd like to see *how* it was assembled. Did it include any error margin for the fact that people are social creatures? What we know is that people are social creatures. And we also know that religion derives from the Latin root word religio, meaning "ties that bind."
If it were not religion, or belonging in a cohesive religious community, and instead was something else to form those social ties that bind, would the results reflect the same outcomes?