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Statistical benefits of religion


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https://www.deseret.com/2018/9/25/20654278/these-religious-practices-by-kids-are-linked-to-better-well-being-as-young-adults 

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Youths who regularly attend religious services, pray or meditate may get a well-being boost that sticks around into young adulthood, according to a new Harvard study that joins a body of research showing benefits from religiosity.

Senior author and epidemiologist Tyler J. VanderWeele knows most people don't make decisions about religion based on health, but rather on beliefs, values, experiences and relationships. "However, for parents and children who already hold religious beliefs, such religious and spiritual practices could be encouraged both for their own sake as well as to promote health and well-being," said Vanderweele, a professor in Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study, by VanderWeele and Harvard research scientist Ying Chen, is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Among the findings, youths who attended religious services at least weekly as children and adolescents were:

  • About 18 percent more apt to report higher happiness between ages 23-30 than those who didn't
  • 29 percent more likely to be volunteers
  • 33 percent less likely to use illegal drugs

Those who prayed or meditated at least daily as kids were, as young adults:

  • 16 percent more likely to report higher happiness
  • 30 percent less likely to have sex at a young age
  • 40 percent less likely to have a sexually transmitted disease

The researchers said while adult literature indicates worship service attendance has greater impact on health, compared to meditation and prayer, for youths the benefits are equal or perhaps even slightly less.

 

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On 10/20/2020 at 8:12 PM, Calm said:

There are many benefits to religion. Sure there are negatives when one takes religion to far but overall the benefits far outweigh the problems.  That is why religion has lasted for thousands of years.  It provides a person with purpose in life.  It gives direction and a moral compass how to look at things.  My faith provides me with brakes on keeping other things in my life from going too far.  For example, politically speaking I am a pretty right wing conservative.  I could easily see myself get worked up into a right wing extremist group if I had nothing else in my life to put the brakes on it.  Being LDS, I see those on the left not as my enemies but other children of God who I just disagree with on some temporal issues.  Politics is temporal, my faith is eternal.  One fades away and the other one lasts.  So my faith keeps me from involving myself in things that in the long run would not be good for me.  For some people, religion makes them radicals.  For me, religion keeps me from becoming a radical.

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45 minutes ago, carbon dioxide said:

There are many benefits to religion. Sure there are negatives when one takes religion to far but overall the benefits far outweigh the problems.  That is why religion has lasted for thousands of years.  It provides a person with purpose in life.  It gives direction and a moral compass how to look at things.  My faith provides me with brakes on keeping other things in my life from going too far.  For example, politically speaking I am a pretty right wing conservative.  I could easily see myself get worked up into a right wing extremist group if I had nothing else in my life to put the brakes on it.  Being LDS, I see those on the left not as my enemies but other children of God who I just disagree with on some temporal issues.  Politics is temporal, my faith is eternal.  One fades away and the other one lasts.  So my faith keeps me from involving myself in things that in the long run would not be good for me.  For some people, religion makes them radicals.  For me, religion keeps me from becoming a radical.

I like what you say here. The middle way is a good spot to be in, not too far right, or not too far left, and is my happy place. I see how religion, if taken too far, is a hindrance, and the middle way or sweet spot, can be wonderful. 

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I'll add my anecdotal observations, as someone who has left a very intense religion and is no longer religious. In my opinion, the two hardest adaptations to make are:

1) Living without the instant community that the LDS church provided. We moved several times in our marriage as members and always felt welcomed and supported in our new wards. We always found friendships and felt people cared about our family. We instantly had activities and and insider advice on getting settled into our new areas. 

Now that we have left religion, we have to work more to create social opportunities. We tend to make friends through the friends of our kids. When it comes to our LDS friends, we have to look for ways to socialize outside of church. Sometimes it's been harder to connect with LDS friends and family now that we have less in common. However, the friendships we've kept and made are very mutual and rewarding.

2) Managing the unknown and all that entails, like increased anxiety, in my case. I do not pray as I used to, and I do not experience calming effects from prayer. When bad things happen, or when there is great stress in my life, I do not have the belief in the celestial kingdom to rely upon. As far as I know, my life is all I have. 

I have to find other ways to get to a headspace of calm. And since I was religious my entire life, this means learning alot! I have learned how much I appreciate the beach and the outdoors in general. I have come to appreciate little rituals like sipping a hot coffee in the morning, not just as a way to be physically nourished, but as a moment to be meditative and reflective.

Also, socially and culturally, as a nonreligious person I can see that a whole lot of the human environment is designed around religious thought and practice. The world is in some ways, made for other lifestyles. But fortunately, I also live in countries which defend religious liberty including the freedom to have no religion.

 

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11 hours ago, carbon dioxide said:

There are many benefits to religion.

I remember one of my friends once talking about what her life was like both before and after joining the church (as an adult). 

She said something to the effect of, 'even if the church weren't true, it would still be the best way to live life.' 

Studies like the one referenced in this article seem to reinforce the idea that, even leaving aside the spiritual benefits, there's a pretty good up-side to religious belief.

 

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4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Also, socially and culturally, as a nonreligious person I can see that a whole lot of the human environment is designed around religious thought and practice. The world is in some ways, made for other lifestyles. But fortunately, I also live in countries which defend religious liberty including the freedom to have no religion.

Are you an atheist?  Then would you expect to fade away into sheer "nothingness" upon the death of your "clay tabernacle" body?

If you expect to arrive at some kind of environment after death, what do you anticipate being "nonreligious" to be like in the next world?

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Just now, longview said:

Are you an atheist?  Then would you expect to fade away into sheer "nothingness" upon the death of your "clay tabernacle" body?

If you expect to arrive at some kind of environment after death, what do you anticipate being "nonreligious" to be like in the next world?

Yes, I am an atheist. I don't know what to expect after death. I do not concern myself with it much, but instead think of my life as "my eternity" and try to live a life I would want my eternity to be.

 

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On 10/20/2020 at 8:12 PM, Calm said:

I would also like to point readers to an excellent FAIR presentation on this topic by Daniel Peterson in 2017: What Difference Does It Make?

It is really worth a read.

Thanks,

-Smac

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On 10/20/2020 at 8:12 PM, Calm said:

I have yet to see valid research that has not shown that religious beliefs contribute toward well being. What always gets left out in attacks on religion (as in it creates more suicide, etc.) is religiosity....one had to be practicing religion not just identify as a member for there to be benefit. 

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57 minutes ago, juliann said:

I have yet to see valid research that has not shown that religious beliefs contribute toward well being. What always gets left out in attacks on religion (as in it creates more suicide, etc.) is religiosity....one had to be practicing religion not just identify as a member for there to be benefit. 

I've noticed this as well.  The key seems to be religious practice, and not just belief on its own.

"Faith without works" is dead kind of thing.

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6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

I'll add my anecdotal observations, as someone who has left a very intense religion and is no longer religious. In my opinion, the two hardest adaptations to make are:

1) Living without the instant community that the LDS church provided. We moved several times in our marriage as members and always felt welcomed and supported in our new wards. We always found friendships and felt people cared about our family. We instantly had activities and and insider advice on getting settled into our new areas. 

Now that we have left religion, we have to work more to create social opportunities. We tend to make friends through the friends of our kids. When it comes to our LDS friends, we have to look for ways to socialize outside of church. Sometimes it's been harder to connect with LDS friends and family now that we have less in common. However, the friendships we've kept and made are very mutual and rewarding.

2) Managing the unknown and all that entails, like increased anxiety, in my case. I do not pray as I used to, and I do not experience calming effects from prayer. When bad things happen, or when there is great stress in my life, I do not have the belief in the celestial kingdom to rely upon. As far as I know, my life is all I have. 

I have to find other ways to get to a headspace of calm. And since I was religious my entire life, this means learning alot! I have learned how much I appreciate the beach and the outdoors in general. I have come to appreciate little rituals like sipping a hot coffee in the morning, not just as a way to be physically nourished, but as a moment to be meditative and reflective.

Also, socially and culturally, as a nonreligious person I can see that a whole lot of the human environment is designed around religious thought and practice. The world is in some ways, made for other lifestyles. But fortunately, I also live in countries which defend religious liberty including the freedom to have no religion.

 

I would recommend joining a meditation community.  It will help with your anxiety, and is proven to help with some of the calming effects that prayer offers, it can also add some social dynamic and sense of community and belonging. 

 

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45 minutes ago, pogi said:

I would recommend joining a meditation community.  It will help with your anxiety, and is proven to help with some of the calming effects that prayer offers, it can also add some social dynamic and sense of community and belonging. 

 

Thank you. I am fortunate to live near my favorite calming place, the beach. And my LDS and nonLDS friends are wonderful.

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religion
 
the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
a particular system of faith and worship.
a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
 
it should be realized how some religions are better than others, just as some beliefs and forms of worship are better than others
 
so we should expect to see that benefits of religion vary
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Some of the details of the study are interesting.  90+ of the participants are considered "white race".  If you consider non-Hispanic whites only, that's 60% of the country.  With Hispanic whites, that's 72%.  So the data seems skewed to a certain race.  

"Nearly 60% of the participants attended religious services at least weekly"

When nation-wide the number of people who attend Church weekly is around 23%.  The data seems skewed to those who attend Church.  

Studies from 1999, 2007, 2010, 2013? 

This seems like a study of rich white youth spanned across a few years time.  I don't know it's very valid to conclude all people are better off growing up religious on that basis.   I think white culture, if you will, would prioritize religious superiority as a matter of dogma.  

Sounds like there are plenty of questions to uncover with this survey. 

With that said, I think there is benefit for religion due to the community and stability but there is not an element of truth or goodness.  That is evident since we use "religion" itself as a measure.  No one religion is better than another, apparently.  

The problem with non religion is not in a measure of its truth or goodness but in whether it can compete with the overarching hold religion has on mankind's society, at least in the western world.  Religion has claimed moral authority on the basis of dogma.  As more and more people realize the foolishness of religion, the good that is found in religion can be much easier adjusted and adapted.  I think there are complicating factors and the study doesn't seem equipped to address them. But, this would be based on my first glance.   

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12 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Some of the details of the study are interesting.  90+ of the participants are considered "white race".  If you consider non-Hispanic whites only, that's 60% of the country.  With Hispanic whites, that's 72%.  So the data seems skewed to a certain race.  

"Nearly 60% of the participants attended religious services at least weekly"

When nation-wide the number of people who attend Church weekly is around 23%.  The data seems skewed to those who attend Church.  

Studies from 1999, 2007, 2010, 2013? 

This seems like a study of rich white youth spanned across a few years time.  I don't know it's very valid to conclude all people are better off growing up religious on that basis.   I think white culture, if you will, would prioritize religious superiority as a matter of dogma.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/02/07/5-facts-about-the-religious-lives-of-african-americans/

12 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

 

Sounds like there are plenty of questions to uncover with this survey. 

With that said, I think there is benefit for religion due to the community and stability but there is not an element of truth or goodness.  That is evident since we use "religion" itself as a measure.  No one religion is better than another, apparently.  

The problem with non religion is not in a measure of its truth or goodness but in whether it can compete with the overarching hold religion has on mankind's society, at least in the western world.  Religion has claimed moral authority on the basis of dogma.

So, people don't join religions, rather, religions are self-existent, autonomous entities that assimilate people, akin to, say Star Trek's the Borg?  OK. :huh: :unknw: 

12 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

 As more and more people realize the foolishness of religion, the good that is found in religion can be much easier adjusted and adapted.

:rolleyes:<_< 

12 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

  I think there are complicating factors and the study doesn't seem equipped to address them. But, this would be based on my first glance.   

Well, perhaps you should take (at least) a second glance, then.

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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

Some of the details of the study are interesting.  90+ of the participants are considered "white race".  If you consider non-Hispanic whites only, that's 60% of the country.  With Hispanic whites, that's 72%.  So the data seems skewed to a certain race.  

"Nearly 60% of the participants attended religious services at least weekly"

When nation-wide the number of people who attend Church weekly is around 23%.  The data seems skewed to those who attend Church.  

Studies from 1999, 2007, 2010, 2013? 

This seems like a study of rich white youth spanned across a few years time.  I don't know it's very valid to conclude all people are better off growing up religious on that basis.   I think white culture, if you will, would prioritize religious superiority as a matter of dogma.  

Sounds like there are plenty of questions to uncover with this survey. 

With that said, I think there is benefit for religion due to the community and stability but there is not an element of truth or goodness.  That is evident since we use "religion" itself as a measure.  No one religion is better than another, apparently.  

The problem with non religion is not in a measure of its truth or goodness but in whether it can compete with the overarching hold religion has on mankind's society, at least in the western world.  Religion has claimed moral authority on the basis of dogma.  As more and more people realize the foolishness of religion, the good that is found in religion can be much easier adjusted and adapted.  I think there are complicating factors and the study doesn't seem equipped to address them. But, this would be based on my first glance.   

Certainly this study has some limitations (as all studies do).  The results can't be generalized to other non-white populations because the numbers for that population are too small.   With the fairly large sample size though, I don't think the 60% figure really "skews" the data as much as it gives us more confidence that the larger sample size is a more accurate representation of that population.  It is less about percentages and more about raw numbers.  Was the sample size large enough to be statistically significant?  Yes.    There were still 1,703 participants who reported never attending church.   While that is a smaller number then the 60% who attend church weekly, that is a fairly large sample size for that population and there would be very little reason to doubt the reliability of those results.  Especially considering the fact that the results are consistent with some "4,000" similar studies that have looked at religion and health/wellbeing. 

I know that you think you can take the good that is in religion and adjust and adapt it to the non-religious, but I highly doubt it.  

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Consistent with prior literature, our results suggest associations of frequent religious participation in adolescence with greater subsequent psychological well-being, character strengths, and lower risks of mental illness and several health behaviors (36–38). For instance, congruent with prior meta-analyses of mostly cross-sectional adolescent studies on religion and health behaviors (37, 38), we found reduced probabilities of drug use and several sexual behaviors among religiously observant adolescents. Also, consistent with results from a prior meta-analysis of religion and forgiveness (39), we found a positive association of religious involvement with forgiveness in early life. Likewise, the effect size between religious involvement and depressive symptoms in the present study is similar to that from a meta-analysis (β = −0.09, 95% confidence interval: −0.11, −0.08) in which investigators integrated evidence across ages (40).

I am convinced that those numbers are partly attributed to belief.  It is the belief that drives the behavior that gives the positive results.   Without the core religious belief/powerful motivating factor, I doubt you could get results like that from a non-religious community.   Religious people get these results because they are motivated out of love for God (tied in with love for others), obedience/respect to a higher power, sense of duty, loyalty, promised blessing in mortality, future eternal blessings, and/or future eternal punishment.  That is a LOT of motivation.  Non-religious people simply don't have as many reasons to be as motivated.  I don't think it is possible to replicate to the same degree - and the numbers seem to show that (in thousands of studies).   
 

 

  

 

 

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