The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Vay » 03 Jun 2012, 15:38

Kind of bothers me that the whole forum starts with "religion sucks" and then a "rumble thread" about resurrection (though honestly I'd love to jump in on that one, but can't be bothered to go back and read 20 pages with the baby waking up every three hours.) Anyway, I'm a sucker for underdogs, so here's a suggested "sticky" thread if it generates any interest.

BTW I was originally going to call this the "Functional Benefits of...", as I wanted the focus to be studies and statistics, but was told this might be mis-interpreted.

Anyway, here's my initial contribution:

Does Thinking About God Improve Our Self-Control?

The mention of "delayed gratification" in particular caught my interest. Have always been a believer in its benefits, particularly after hearing of this:

Stanford marshmallow experiment

There is a "delayed gratification" gap between the present and the past that to me seems to be the source of some of society's recent economic woes.
"So given that we all agree that the world is warming, would it be unlikely to have heat waves outpace cold fronts by 3:1? Where's the Gotcha! in that?" - Fred Smith
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby TheGingerMan » 03 Jun 2012, 18:40

The Book of Zechariah is self-explantory.
:notworthy:
"Turne ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope,
even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee:"

~~~ZECHARIAH 9:12

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with skalds reward for skilled word?"

~~~Egill Skallagrimssøn, c.974


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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Fortigurn » 04 Jun 2012, 06:18

Vay, you would enjoy 'Religion for Atheists' by Alain de Botton.
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一閃一閃眨眨眼眼眼 氣球飛來飛去的樂園 比太陽還耀眼眼眼眼 鑽石都讓到一邊!
我就是shining shining 大小姐 快大聲喊一遍! 我就是shining shining 大小姐 加滿元氣衝上天!
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Vay » 04 Jun 2012, 16:18

Fortigurn wrote:Vay, you would enjoy 'Religion for Atheists' by Alain de Botton.


Thanks Fort - I'll add it to my Kindle "2BDL'ed" list!

PS:

Armarium Magnum wrote:Being something of a contrarian and a bit of a stickler for actually being rational rather than just shouting about it, I have on occasion been known to note that Christianity and Christians actually haven't always been absolutely wrong about everything. And the hornets have been much displeased.


:notworthy: I know I'm gonna like this guy!
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Fortigurn » 04 Jun 2012, 18:42

Tim is consistently a good read, even when I disagree with him. Now back to the topic. Strong religious belief provides a range of physical, emotional, social, financial, psychological, and health benefits;[1] [2] reducing health risks, increasing the likelihood of longevity[3] and mental health,[4] and having a positive effect on wellbeing in childhood,[5] [6] [7] as well as later economic outcomes.[8]

High religious involvement has a positive effect on social integration,[9] [10] [11] behavioural regulation,[12] and a range of positive societal outcomes.[13] However, lower levels of religious belief, involvement, and commitment, produce negative outcomes which can be worse than having no belief at all.[14] [15]

______________________________________
[1] ‘Many studies have documented the benefits of religious involvement. Indeed, highly religious people tend to be healthier, live longer, and have higher levels of subjective well-being.’, Mochon, Norton, & Ariely, ‘Who Benefits from Religion?’, Social Indicators Research (101.1), 2010.

[2] It is recognized that not all religious systems provide such benefits; some produce negative outcomes due to prejudice against education, or to oppressive power structures and failure to reinforce positive behaviours.

[3] ‘Similarly, although there are exceptions and the matter remains controversial (Sloan et al. 1999), a growing body of research documents an association between religious involvement and better outcomes on a variety of physical health measures, including problems related to heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, gastrointestinal disease, as well as overall health status and life expectancy. This research also points to differences by religious affiliation, with members of stricter denominations displaying an advantage (Levin 1994). Many of the early studies in this literature suffer from methodological shortcomings, including small, unrepresentative samples, lack of adequate statistical controls, and a cross-sectional design that confounds the direction of causality. Yet the conclusion of a generally positive effect of religious involvement on physical health and longevity also emerges from a new generation of studies that have addressed many of these methodological problems (Ellison and Levin 1998). In one of the most rigorous analyses to date, Hummer et al. (1999) use longitudinal data from a nationwide survey, the 1987 Cancer Risk Factor Supplement–Epidemiology Study, linked to the Multiple Cause of Death file. Their results show that the gap in life expectancy at age 20 between those who attend religious services more than once a week and those who never attend is more than seven years—comparable to the male–female and white–black differentials in the United States. Additional multivariate analyses of these data reveal a strong association between religious participation and the risk of death, holding constant socioeconomic and demographic variables, as well as initial health status. Other recent longitudinal studies also report a protective effect of religious involvement against disability among the elderly (Idler and Kasl 1992), as well as a positive influence on self-rated health (Musick 1996) and longevity (Strawbridge et al. 1997).’, Waite & Lehrer, ‘The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis’, p. 2 (author manuscript 2003).

[4] ‘The connection between religion and mental health has been the subject of much controversy over the years, and many psychologists and psychiatrists remain skeptical, in part because most of the research has been based on cross-sectional analyses of small samples. The studies to date are suggestive of an association between religious involvement and better mental health outcomes, including greater self-esteem, better adaptation to bereavement, a lower incidence of depression and anxiety, a lower likelihood of alcohol and drug abuse, and greater life satisfaction and happiness in general (Koenig et al. 2001). Recent longitudinal analyses of subgroups of the population provide additional evidence in support of this relationship (Zuckerman et al. 1984; Levin et al. 1996).’, ibid., p. 3.

[5] 'Religious participation has also been associated with better educational outcomes. Freeman (1986) finds a positive effect of churchgoing on school attendance in a sample of inner-city black youth. Regnerus (2000) reports that participation in religious activities is related to better test scores and heightened educational expectations among tenth-grade public school students. In the most comprehensive study to date, using data on adolescents from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, Muller and Ellison (2001) find positive effects of various measures of religious involvement on the students’ locus of control (a measure of self-concept), educational expectations, time spent on homework, advanced mathematics credits earned, and the probability of obtaining a high school diploma.’, ibid., p. 4.

[6] ‘Several studies have documented an association between religion and children’s well-being. Recent research on differences in parenting styles by religious affiliation reveals that conservative Protestants display distinctive patterns: they place a greater emphasis on obedience and tend to view corporal punishment as an acceptable form of child discipline; at the same time, they are more likely to avoid yelling at children and are more prone to frequent praising and warm displays of affection (Bartowski et al. 2000). As to other dimensions of religion, Pearce and Axinn (1998) find that family religious involvement promotes stronger ties among family members and has a positive impact on mothers’ and children’s reports of the quality of their relationship. A number of studies document the effects of children’s own religious participation, showing that young people who grow up having some religious involvement tend to display better outcomes in a range of areas. Such involvement has been linked to a lower probability of substance abuse and juvenile delinquency (Donahue and Benson 1995), a lower incidence of depression among some groups (Harker 2001), delayed sexual debut (Bearman and Bruckner 2001), more positive attitudes toward marriage and having children, and more negative attitudes toward unmarried sex and premarital childbearing (Marchena and Waite 2001).’, ibid., p. 4.

[7] ‘Overall, we find strong evidence that youth with religiously active parents are less affected later in life by childhood disadvantage than youth whose parents did not frequently attend religious services. These buffering effects of religious organizations are most pronounced when outcomes are measured by high school graduation or non-smoking and when disadvantage is measured by family resources or maternal education, but we also find buffering effects for a number of other outcome-disadvantage pairs. We generally find much weaker buffering effects for other social organizations.’, Dehejia et al., ‘The Role of Religious and Social Organizations in the Lives of Disadvantaged Youth’, NBER Working Paper No. 13369 (2007).

[8] ‘However, as we discuss below, an emerging literature shows a positive effect of religiosity on educational attainment, a key determinant of success in the labor market. These studies suggest a potentially important link between religious involvement during childhood and adolescence and subsequent economic well-being as an adult. Preliminary results from a new line of inquiry at the macro level are consistent with this hypothesis. Using a cross-country panel that includes information on religious and economic variables, Barro and McLeary (2002) find that enhanced religious beliefs affect economic growth positively, although growth responds negatively to increased church attendance. The authors interpret their findings as reflecting a positive association between “productivity” in the religion sector and macroeconomic performance.’, Waite & Lehrer, ‘The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis’, p. 3 (author manuscript 2003).

[9] ‘Ellison and George (1994) find that people who frequently attend religious services not only have larger social networks, but also hold more positive perceptions of the quality of their social relationships.’, ibid., p. 7.

[10] ‘Recent research has emphasized that religion can play a pivotal role in the socialization of youth by contributing to the development of social capital. Religious congregations often sponsor family activities, stimulating the cultivation of closer parent–child relations; they also bring children together with grandparents and other supportive adults (parents of peers, Sunday-school teachers) in an environment of trust. This broad base of social ties can be a rich source of positive role models, confidants, useful information, and reinforcement of values that promote educational achievement.’, ibid., p. 7.

[11] ‘At the other end of the age spectrum, the social ties provided by religious institutions are of special value to the elderly, helping them deal with the many difficult challenges that tend to accompany old age: illness, dependency, loss, and loneliness (Levin 1994).’, ibid., p. 7.

[12] ‘Most faiths have teachings that encourage healthy behaviors and discourage conduct that is self-destructive; they also provide moral guidance about sexuality. Some religions have specific regulations limiting or prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and potentially harmful foods. Several studies show that religious involvement is generally associated with health-promoting behaviors (Koenig et al. 2001) and that such behaviors explain in part the connection between religion and longevity (Strawbridge et al. 1997; Hummer et al. 1999).’, ibid., p. 7.

[13] ‘At the societal level, higher religious involvement is related to increased levels of education (Gruber 2005), lower crime rates (Baier and Wright 2001; Johnson et al. 2000), increases in civic involvement (Putnam 2000; Ruiter and De Graaf 2006), higher levels of cooperation (Norenzayan and Shariff 2008; Shariff and Norenzayan 2007), lower divorce rates, higher marital satisfaction and better child adjustment (Mahoney et al. 2001; for a review, see Sherkat and Ellison 1999).’, Mochon, Norton, & Ariely, ‘Who Benefits from Religion?’, Social Indicators Research (101.2), 2010.

[14] ‘While fervent believers benefit from their involvement, those with weaker beliefs are actually less happy than those who do not ascribe to any religion—atheists and agnostics..’, ibid., p. 1.

[15] ‘Indeed, weakly affiliated adherents may actually be less happy than their unaffiliated counterparts—atheists, agnostics, and those who report no religion at all—and therefore would appear to benefit from abandoning their faith.’, ibid., p. 2.
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一閃一閃亮晶晶晶晶 我的項鍊到底在哪裡 滿天都是小星星星星 我要瞬間變成大明星!
一閃一閃眨眨眼眼眼 氣球飛來飛去的樂園 比太陽還耀眼眼眼眼 鑽石都讓到一邊!
我就是shining shining 大小姐 快大聲喊一遍! 我就是shining shining 大小姐 加滿元氣衝上天!

This post was recommended by Vay (04 Jun 2012, 20:10)
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Vay » 04 Jun 2012, 20:11

Ha Fort I knew you'd bring out the big guns on this thread! Maybe you should sticky it. :notworthy:
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Fortigurn » 04 Jun 2012, 23:50

Vay wrote:Ha Fort I knew you'd bring out the big guns on this thread!


As the Credible Hulk said...

Maybe you should sticky it. :notworthy:


It would save me a lot of time, but people might think it was a bit pretentious.
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一閃一閃亮晶晶晶晶 我的項鍊到底在哪裡 滿天都是小星星星星 我要瞬間變成大明星!
一閃一閃眨眨眼眼眼 氣球飛來飛去的樂園 比太陽還耀眼眼眼眼 鑽石都讓到一邊!
我就是shining shining 大小姐 快大聲喊一遍! 我就是shining shining 大小姐 加滿元氣衝上天!
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby MikeN » 05 Jun 2012, 16:59

How many of those studies cover the United States only, where religion is the default position in society, and irreligious people tend to be outside the norm?

International comparisons clearly show the nations which are least religious have higher longevity, better health, lower poverty, less crime, more equality for women, higher educational standards etc.
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby sandman » 05 Jun 2012, 19:22

MikeN wrote:How many of those studies cover the United States only, where religion is the default position in society, and irreligious people tend to be outside the norm?

International comparisons clearly show the nations which are least religious have higher longevity, better health, lower poverty, less crime, more equality for women, higher educational standards etc.

I would dearly like to believe this, being as how I'm one of them godless heathens. But Fortigurn provided citations, so really, you need to do the same if you want to be taken seriously (well, if you take those mealy-mouthed academics seriously at all, that is). EYE believe you, because its in my best interests to do so, but others...
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Teddoman » 06 Jun 2012, 09:33

Fortigurn wrote:Tim is consistently a good read, even when I disagree with him. Now back to the topic. Strong religious belief provides a range of physical, emotional, social, financial, psychological, and health benefits;[1] [2] reducing health risks, increasing the likelihood of longevity[3] and mental health,[4] and having a positive effect on wellbeing in childhood,[5] [6] [7] as well as later economic outcomes.[8]

High religious involvement has a positive effect on social integration,[9] [10] [11] behavioural regulation,[12] and a range of positive societal outcomes.[13] However, lower levels of religious belief, involvement, and commitment, produce negative outcomes which can be worse than having no belief at all.[14] [15]

Yes but aren't a lot of those benefits attributable to:
1) participation in a social support group and the ongoing connectedness that it provides
2) having any strong coherent belief at all that guides one's life

Joining a religion to achieve all these benefits is like becoming a double marathon runner, even if it'll ruin one's knees hips and other joints before one turns 50, in order to achieve cardiovascular benefits, when one could easier achieve 75% of the same cardiovascular benefits by doing a short 30 minute daily gym workout.

Instead of becoming religious, maybe all you need to do is:
1) become close with your neighbors
2) volunteer for a cause, any cause
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