Faith, Poor Logic and Health

ibadah writes:

To all the atheists out there – and I know that a few are reading this – studies have shown that religious individuals recover quicker, have longer lives, and are better able to cope with long-term illnesses such as HIV/AIDS.

So, don’t give up on faith just yet ;)

This argument cannot prove anything about the intrinsic merit of faith, merely its effect.  Does it matter what that faith is in?  Might there be other false beliefs that provide similar benefits?  For example, say I believe in Paul Bunyon and unicorns.  Might this help too?

Its a fun argument to make.  But let’s take a serious look at what is probably being measured here.  “Religious individuals”.  We are probably talking about stress reduction.  The increased social interaction afforded by organized worship and related activities, a sense of calm about questions of fate and the afterlife, and a sense of one’s place in the world all probably serve to de-stress individuals.

Given this, any activity that reduces stress would provide those same results.  Joining a yoga class, for example.  It also means that what you believe in doesn’t quite matter, so long as stress is reduced.

In fact, I’d argue that a purposely false organized religion could provide the same if not superior results.  Picture “Lord Fluff the Holy Squirrel”.  This religion would involve getting together twice a week to look at pictures of cute animals and have a laugh about life.  I bet, given the well documented effects of humor and cuteness on stress, that combined with the increased social interaction, we’d have a pretty good alternative.

Unless of course the benefit came from suspending logic over a lifetime.  In which case, as an alternative the Republican party is recruiting.


13 Responses

  1. I’d be willing to bet that a health study comparing devoutly religious people vs. people who seriously practice meditation wouldn’t be quite as favorable for organized religion.

    Meanwhile, hail Fluff, the conquering squirrel!

  2. Love that squirrel!

    Shirley Buxton

  3. Oh, for Squirrel’s sake! Faith has such minimal effects on health (at least in the form of intercessory and other prayer), that it really isn’t any better than not praying. If it were to be studied further, I doubt it would be found to have an effect as dramatic as, say, aspirin in heart disease…but im willing to wait for someone to do the study. C’mon…let’s see it.
    “Where’s your messiah now?”
    Mine’s burying acorns in my back yard.

  4. Stress kills. Republican and Democrat ideologies kill as well. Vote other!!!!

  5. Ripley,
    Hail Fluff! I’d like to see that very same study.

    Isn’t Lord Fluff just the cutest? Hail Fluff!

    Lord Fluff wills acorns into the earth. He merely pats them down while looking out for predators because he knows its adorable, and he wuvs his worshippers so.

    I do wonder about the specifics of that test. They are measuring so very many factors. I doubt this study tackled intercessory prayer.

    Michael, Michael, Michael,
    Republican and Democratic idealogies kill? I suppose libertarian idealogy equals happy good times for everyone, right? Sheeeesh.

  6. Fitness we don’t know how libertarian ideology compares because IT”S NEVER BEEN TRIED!!!!!! Again I stress that the two party system is a sham on the citizens of the U.S. so as to keep us from feeling that we have no choice but in reality we have had no choice for a long long time. How is it that you can defend one or the other? I know you are a democrat but I don’t hold it against you….

  7. Fitness did you ever look into the amount of bad (for the people and the country) items associated to the candidates to compare who had the least amount of detrimental infractions? So far it seems to me that Ron Paul has the slightest amount of poor attributes of the choices for nominees for both parties. Can you show me how libertarian ideology has worse things to offer than either of the two parties in the two party monopoly??? ❤ ❤ Love ya but Sheeeeesh.

  8. Michael D,
    What is the libertarian ideology? Government just for security and nothing more? Everything else private? I suppose, but “it hasn’t been tried” isn’t the most compelling argument, is it?

    I do look at the amount of negatives associated with each candidate. Ron Paul has racism, support for fringe hate groups, an unrealistic take on taxes, and a poor stand on health care all against him. Not to mention his support of a hunited church and state (so long as its at the state level), crap support for gay rights, anti-choice politics, and his insistence that rights cannot be federal, or even (gasp) universal.

    He’s far far from the top of the list of good candidates.

    Right now, that would be Kucinich. Edwards is damn close. He seems to have closed the Iran gap. Now all that remains is to close the gay rights gap and he’d be golden.

    Obama has a lot of baggage. Like his shameful no show vote on Iran. Hillary…. wow she’d be wrong for this country. I’d say she’s as much a threat as Romney. Rudy represents the worst we could get by a long shot. Just thinking about “President Giuliani” really makes me shudder. If you think Bush is bad…

    As for parties, I hate the two party monopoly. I’d love to see a real libertarian candidate. I don’t think Ron Paul is one. His stance on abortion and gay rights is all wrong. I don’t agree with all the libertarian points, but it is a view I’d like to see better represented in the national discourse. I’d also like a real liberal candidate to have a platform. Right now that’s kinda Edwards, and Kucinich. The media treats Kucinich about as poorly as they treat Ron Paul.

    I’d ideally like to see candidates run with no party affiliation, on their merits.

  9. love the picture

    as for the idea of faith helping people heal faster… i’m sure it does. if faith makes a person happier, of course it will have a beneficial effect on his or her health. being happier has proven to be helpful when one is sick

    heck, just look at me… i always get better twice as fast when i’m not sobbing messily into my kleenex. for some people, faith is what keeps the tears (and therefore post nasal drip) at bay… for me, it’s any movie with Paul Newman.

    wait… does that mean i just found a new religion…?

  10. and hey buddy, hey…

    I believe in Paul Bunyon… because HE’S REAL

    he lives just down the hall and wears plaid and small woodland creatures

  11. Sally Jane,
    Long time! Welcome back. Of course the happyness factor (and the I’m being taken care of factor) can help. Of course, depending on one’s faith, this can create a crisis of faith (which would be detrimental to one’s health).

    I wouldn’t say found so much as happened upon.

    Sally Jane you just say that because you live in the boonies. And that’s not Paul Bunyon. Its the experimental woodsy rugged Al Gore clone from the 2000 elections. He doesn’t wear small woodland creatures so much as house them closely.

  12. Fitness, do you read Alasdair MacIntyre?

  13. xn, not yet, but he looks really interesting. I really like the idea of looking at ethics as a life long proposition. Its a really useful thought exercise.

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