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Thread: Does religion help you to live longer?

  1. #1 Does religion help you to live longer? 
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    I've heard several comments about the power of religion to prolong life expectancy, even on science programs (last night on the TV for instance).
    I can believe that prayer can provide some sort of outlet for your frustrations and calm you down, but religion? No, I don't think so.
    It's true that congregations tend to be made up of more older people than the average, but I would expect that if they are so looking forward to the life hereafter, then why should they care so much about staying on earth?
    I know a priest in his 90's, but I also know people of a similar age who have never gone to church in their lives.
    And does religion here mean any old nut-cult or does it mean the mainstream faith?
    For some reason this reminds me of Samuel Butler's novel Erewhon Revisited. The hero of the novel escapes from a land called Erewhon (Nowhere) by balloon. Some time later he returns to find he is worshiped as The Sunchild by the Church of Sunchildren, who believe that he ascended into heaven. Butler doesn't study the effect on life expectancy, but I'm sure that the population were much the same lived. On an island in the Pacific (Vanuatu) the John Frum cargo cult believe that a WW2 serviceman will return one year on February 15th. The leader of the cult stated only in 2007 that John Frum was their god and he would return. Maybe it's belief, no matter what, that might have an effect on life.
    Now clearly both the Sunchildren and the cargo cult have just a valid reason to be called religions as any other, because from their point of view they have identified with the supernatural. So I think that any statement about religion prolonging life must be qualified by a definition about what religion really is, and that is a belief in the supernatural, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the truth of any single faith system.
    Life expectancy in a deeply religious and rich country like Saudi Arabia is 72. In the United Kingdom, which does not thrive on religion, it is 80. So I think that alone proves a point.


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    What was the life expectancy of the fictional characters in the novel, and what was the life expectancy of the inhabitants of Vanuatu. There must be some reason why you put those stories in a thread about life expectancy. Your posts are ridiculous.

    The life expectancy of Saudi Arabians compared to people in UK proves exactly nothing about religion. In order to prove anything, you have to control for any other factors that could affect life expectancy.


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    Personally I like the Torchwood theory. Britain's LE is 8 years higher than Saudi Arabia because we're that much closer to 'The Source'.


    But no, just..no. Religion doesn't affect LE in -any- way shape or form, just like it doesn't affect whether you're good. (Only if you're bad "Takes religion to make good people do evil things" and all"
    The only potential way it might even be viewed to do so would be exactly like with the goodness thing, Religion has fuck all to do with it, it's actually just that a few points it makes happen to be beneficial. Christianity isn't a great religion because it has the ten commandments, it's still a crap cult, it just happened to get lucky and realise "Wait...people don't like to be killed, raped and stolen from...lets make that a rule!". Similarly, being religious doesn't grant longer life. 'Religion' is mass belief in largely generic origin stories and imaginary friends, it's a cult. None of that helps life in -any- way. However; like you mentioned, prayer and similar ways to get frustration off your chest (confessions, mediation...sex) helps, being calm helps. And looking on the majority of the world as wrong while you and you alone are correct 'hapless fools be damned' helps. As does never taking responsibility for yourself and blaming it on a non-existent person's whim. It's just coincidence that Religion happens to use most of those relaxing techniques.
    Compare it to a child, most don't understand the concept of death enough to realise what it means, most happily defer to the parent as a supreme authority, justification and cause for just about everything, and most kids happily bomb around climbing trees cutting themselves open, doing stupid things, all without a care in the world and largely without dying. Now imagine if adults started climbing trees and bombing around like kids...far more would die or get seriously injured; because we're constantly thinking of consequences.

    Ignorance is indeed bliss, and it's something Religion provides a truck-load of.
    It's not how many questions you ask, but the answers you get - Booms

    This is the Acadamy of Science! we don't need to 'prove' anything!
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    Okay, we got another opinion. Does anybody have any scientific evidence? Or should I just send this to the trash?
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    What was the life expectancy of the fictional characters in the novel, and what was the life expectancy of the inhabitants of Vanuatu. There must be some reason why you put those stories in a thread about life expectancy. Your posts are ridiculous.
    The life expectancy of Saudi Arabians compared to people in UK proves exactly nothing about religion. In order to prove anything, you have to control for any other factors that could affect life expectancy.
    I think you miss the point that I was trying to make about Erewhon and Vanuatu. Did their belief systems, no matter how irrational, enhance their well-being and give them some purpose in life? I often hear it said that people with a purpose in life live longer. The TV program I was referring to was an investigation into how we might all live longer and religion was up there with physical exercise, good diet and stem cell research. My point is that it is not religion as such, but I am willing to concede that elements found in religion may be of benefit.
    For instance, Christians are supposed to believe in the Resurrection, and that alone might enhance well-being. But ask them to describe the differences between its narrative in Matthew and John and most will have no idea. It is just the simple belief that Jesus rose from the dead which is sufficient. The Talmud says something else: Jesus was executed by stoning and not crucifying. So really the historical reality is of no importance here to the person of faith. What is important is a belief. This is further enhanced by the notion that not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but he had died for the sins of every man, woman and child on the planet in all of earth's time and history.
    So a belief system like this, which is relatively harmless, may well help overcome depression and sickness and help you to live longer.
    It might also encourage you to lead a good life, and I'm sure most Christians want to lead good lives. But there again I'm sure most Muslims and Buddhists also want to lead good lives. Here the definition of a Christian becomes blurred, because it sort of implies that Muslims and Buddhists must also be good Christians. This point was made by Bertrand Russell who was not a man of faith and he went on to live to 98.
    So that is the reason why I refute the idea that religion can help you live longer, but I am definitely not arguing against anything which might give you a lifetime feeling of well being, provided it is harmless in itself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    I think you miss the point that I was trying to make about Erewhon and Vanuatu. Did their belief systems, no matter how irrational, enhance their well-being and give them some purpose in life?
    No. You missed my point. Nothing of scientific value can be learned from a novel. You have provided no information, scientific or otherwise, about the mental health of the inhabitants of Vanuatu. Therefore, there is no reason to post this information in the Scientific Study of Religion forum.

    I often hear it said that people with a purpose in life live longer. The TV program I was referring to was an investigation into how we might all live longer and religion was up there with physical exercise, good diet and stem cell research. My point is that it is not religion as such, but I am willing to concede that elements found in religion may be of benefit.
    Speculation with no scientific value.
    For instance, Christians are supposed to believe in the Resurrection, and that alone might enhance well-being. But ask them to describe the differences between its narrative in Matthew and John and most will have no idea. It is just the simple belief that Jesus rose from the dead which is sufficient. The Talmud says something else: Jesus was executed by stoning and not crucifying. So really the historical reality is of no importance here to the person of faith. What is important is a belief. This is further enhanced by the notion that not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but he had died for the sins of every man, woman and child on the planet in all of earth's time and history.
    So a belief system like this, which is relatively harmless, may well help overcome depression and sickness and help you to live longer.
    Speculation
    .
    It might also encourage you to lead a good life, and I'm sure most Christians want to lead good lives. But there again I'm sure most Muslims and Buddhists also want to lead good lives. Here the definition of a Christian becomes blurred, because it sort of implies that Muslims and Buddhists must also be good Christians. This point was made by Bertrand Russell who was not a man of faith and he went on to live to 98.
    So that is the reason why I refute the idea that religion can help you live longer, but I am definitely not arguing against anything which might give you a lifetime feeling of well being, provided it is harmless in itself.
    If you were watching a TV documentary of a purportedly scientific nature, you might wonder what research is behind their assertion, and investigate the source of the documentary, or any other relevant studies on the subject. That would be a valid topic for this forum, but you haven't done that.
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    I think there is some value in examining this possibility, but really what needs to be established is just how the religion is actually effecting an individual. If the religious involvement is providing a possitive influence in a persons life, then it could realistically contribute to improved health and living longer.

    It is more about the way the religion is effecting people, for example people attending the happy clappy type churches are more likely to find it a pyschologically benefitting experience than those attending a more sombre church preaching hell fire and damnation for sinners.

    This is because of the state of mind engendered through each experience, one may lead to joy and euphoria whilst the other may lead to feelings of guilt or shame.

    what this goes to highlight is how different experiences effect us and there has been many studies on the physiological effects of possitive and negative thinking.

    Health Effects Of Positive Thinking | LIVESTRONG.COM
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    When you're the guy about to be sacrificed to a god, the guy being force fed in Jonestown, the guy convinced about committing suicide to meet Hale-Bop aliens, a member of Job's family or the guy getting nailed to a cross, then religion has a direct effect on your life expectancy.
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    I'll give you credit for trying, Chris, but the article you found is not a very scholarly one. It even gives as a reference a book by a Buddhist philosopher. One of the reader's comments pointed out a fallacy. People who are optimistic about having a heart attack may be optimistic for good reason, i.e., lack of risk factors correlated with heart attacks. So, naturally they will have fewer heart attacks, but not due to the optimism.

    OFF TOPIC ALERT

    Chris, because you enjoy my over-the-top right wing philosophy, I will go on a bit of a rant here. Anyone who does not share Chris's enthusiasm for right wing rants may tune out now.

    The preachers preaching hellfire and damnation may not be all that depressing to one's psyche, as compared to the "preachers" of the secular left who make us feel guilty about things like racism, the environment, greed, etc. At least the religious preacher offers some rituals to expunge one's guilt. Liberal guilt just never goes away.

    The Jews have their days of atonement. In the past, they would have a sacrificial scapegoat, which they would drive into the desert, ritually carrying away their sins. Christians believe that Christ takes away their sins (possibly in the tradition of the scapegoat). In the middle ages, people would flog themselves or wear hair shirts in order to atone for their sins. Catholics believe that the ritual of confession will absolve their guilt.

    For the atheistic liberal, there is nothing like that. Maybe this is why they feel the need to punish themselves, and perhaps to punish others of their same socioeconomic status or ethnic group, in scapegoat fashion.
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    Why Harold, you have quite missed the point of liberal rants. We don't punish ourselves, but urge others, not of our mind set to punish themselves for their obvious, secular sins. This immensely satisfying experience may not extend our life span, but it makes whatever we have of it much more enjoyable.
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    Perhaps the religious don't actually hold a truth value to their beliefs. They don't actually believe in an afterlife, thus they take aggressive end-of-measures to stay alive. Religion may destroy your self esteem and replace it with an unjustified belief, effectively breaking your legs and giving you a crutch.

    "The researchers from the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute found these people were the least likely to have filled in a "do not resuscitate" order....As well as receiving resuscitation, they were much more likely to be placed on mechanical ventilation in the last few days of life."[1]

    "Despite evidence that religiousness is associated with preference for aggressive end-of-life care, it is unknown if religious factors influence the actual intensity of care received near death. We hypothesized that patients who rely heavily upon their religious faith to cope with advanced cancer would be more likely to receive intensive medical care near death (eg, mechanical ventilation and/or cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Data from the Coping With Cancer Study, a federally funded, multisite, prospective cohort of patients with advanced cancer, were used to examine the relationship between patients' use of positive religious coping at baseline and the receipt of intensive medical care during the last week of life." [2]

    When comparing the faith based addiction therapy (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous) to no treatment at all, the best treatment is no treatment at all.

    "This is not to say that treatment can't be useful. But the most successful treatments are nonconfrontational approaches that allow self-propelled change. Psychologists at the University of New Mexico led by William Miller tabulated every controlled study of alcoholism treatment they could find. They concluded that the leading therapy was barely a therapy at all but a quick encounter between patient and health-care worker in an ordinary medical setting. The intervention is sometimes as brief as a doctor looking at the results of liver-function tests and telling a patient to cut down on his drinking. Many patients then decide to cut back—and do!" [3]


    [1] BBC NEWS | Health | Pious 'fight death the hardest'
    [2] JAMA Network | JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association | Religious Coping and Use of Intensive Life-Prolonging Care Near Death in Patients With Advanced Cancer
    [3] The Surprising Truth About Addiction | Psychology Today
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Perhaps the religious don't actually hold a truth value to their beliefs. They don't actually believe in an afterlife, thus they take aggressive end-of-measures to stay alive. Religion may destroy your self esteem and replace it with an unjustified belief, effectively breaking your legs and giving you a crutch.

    "The researchers from the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute found these people were the least likely to have filled in a "do not resuscitate" order....As well as receiving resuscitation, they were much more likely to be placed on mechanical ventilation in the last few days of life."[1]

    "Despite evidence that religiousness is associated with preference for aggressive end-of-life care, it is unknown if religious factors influence the actual intensity of care received near death. We hypothesized that patients who rely heavily upon their religious faith to cope with advanced cancer would be more likely to receive intensive medical care near death (eg, mechanical ventilation and/or cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Data from the Coping With Cancer Study, a federally funded, multisite, prospective cohort of patients with advanced cancer, were used to examine the relationship between patients' use of positive religious coping at baseline and the receipt of intensive medical care during the last week of life." [2]

    When comparing the faith based addiction therapy (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous) to no treatment at all, the best treatment is no treatment at all.

    "This is not to say that treatment can't be useful. But the most successful treatments are nonconfrontational approaches that allow self-propelled change. Psychologists at the University of New Mexico led by William Miller tabulated every controlled study of alcoholism treatment they could find. They concluded that the leading therapy was barely a therapy at all but a quick encounter between patient and health-care worker in an ordinary medical setting. The intervention is sometimes as brief as a doctor looking at the results of liver-function tests and telling a patient to cut down on his drinking. Many patients then decide to cut back—and do!" [3]


    [1] BBC NEWS | Health | Pious 'fight death the hardest'
    [2] JAMA Network | JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association | Religious Coping and Use of Intensive Life-Prolonging Care Near Death in Patients With Advanced Cancer
    [3] The Surprising Truth About Addiction | Psychology Today
    I'm not getting the relevance of this. It doesn't say religious people live longer, only that they were less likely to use "do not resuscitate" orders. Where are you getting this idea of destroyed self-esteem? What is the relationship between addiction therapy and life expectancy?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post

    I'm not getting the relevance of this. It doesn't say religious people live longer, only that they were less likely to use "do not resuscitate" orders.
    It is implied. The non-religious patient dies sooner due to their "do not resuscitate" order.


    [/QUOTE] Where are you getting this idea of destroyed self-esteem? [/QUOTE]

    You have never the religious expression, "My life is worthless without <insert deity name here>?"

    AA 12 Steps

    We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
    Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Godas we understood Him
    Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
    Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
    Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
    Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
    Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
    Twelve-Step Program - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Instead of relying on some "external higher power/god" for discipline, self control is more reliable.


    What is the relationship between addiction therapy and life expectancy?
    Alcohol addition therapy assist the abuser from consuming alcohol. If successful, they don't drink ever again.

    "Alcohol use contributes to a range of acute and chronic health consequences, from injuries resulting from traffic crashes to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Research has explored the relationships between the risk for alcohol–related morbidity and mortality and both the overall amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. This article will review this research, with a focus on the relationship between alcohol use and coronary heart disease (CHD)...

    "Alcohol use is related to a wide variety of negative health outcomes including morbidity, mortality, and disability. Research on alcohol–related morbidity and mortality takes into account the varying effects of overall alcohol consumption and drinking patterns. The results from this epidemiological research indicate that alcohol use increases the risk for many chronic health consequences (e.g., diseases) and acute consequences (e.g., traffic crashes), but a certain pattern of regular light–to–moderate drinking may have beneficial effects on coronary heart disease. Several issues are relevant to the methodology of studies of alcohol–related morbidity and mortality, including the measurement of both alcohol consumption and the outcomes studied as well as study design. Broad summary measures that reflect alcohol’s possible effects on morbidity, mortality, and disability may be more useful than measures of any one outcome alone. "


    Alcohol·Related Morbidity and Mortality
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    What does the above have to do with religion? Can a non-religious person not go to AA?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post

    I'm not getting the relevance of this. It doesn't say religious people live longer, only that they were less likely to use "do not resuscitate" orders.
    It is implied. The non-religious patient dies sooner due to their "do not resuscitate" order.
    That is a wholly illlogical conclusion since we do not know at what age in their lives the religious and the non-religious reach a situation where resuscitation may be an option.
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    Science, you say....

    Mortality pattern and life expectancy of Sev... [Int J Epidemiol. 1983] - PubMed - NCBI

    Not caused by religion per se but by the healthier life style imposed by the religion (e.g. no alcohol or tobacco).

    (I believe there have been other similar studies; this is just the first I found.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    What does the above have to do with religion? Can a non-religious person not go to AA?
    A non-religious person can attend AA, but what would be the value of steps/tenants that appeal to a deity if that person holds no belief of a deity?
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    That is a wholly illlogical conclusion since we do not know at what age in their lives the religious and the non-religious reach a situation where resuscitation may be an option.
    Yeah it was a reach. The study only sites a minimal age of 20 years old. I am not aware of any medical means to predict the exact life expectancy of any one.

    Hypothetically: If there were identical patients with identical terminal medical illnesses and both went into cardiac arrest at the same time, would it be fair to speculate that the one without a DOR order has greater opportunity to continue living?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    That is a wholly illlogical conclusion since we do not know at what age in their lives the religious and the non-religious reach a situation where resuscitation may be an option.
    Yeah it was a reach. The study only sites a minimal age of 20 years old. I am not aware of any medical means to predict the exact life expectancy of any one.

    Hypothetically: If there were identical patients with identical terminal medical illnesses and both went into cardiac arrest at the same time, would it be fair to speculate that the one without a DOR order has greater opportunity to continue living?
    One would not expect the "do not resuscitate" order to extend one's life very long, and it would only apply to a small percentage of people, thus this should not have any measurable effect. Also, your point about the alcohol addiction therapy would have the opposite (also negligible) effect. So, I have no idea what you are or were trying to get at.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    If you were watching a TV documentary of a purportedly scientific nature, you might wonder what research is behind their assertion, and investigate the source of the documentary, or any other relevant studies on the subject. That would be a valid topic for this forum, but you haven't done that.
    Yes, and that was precisely my frustration. I had heard this idea before but this was the first time I had heard it on a scientific program, the normally reliable Horizon (Nova) on BBC. They provided no evidence for this assertion other than from an elderly lady of the Seventh Day Adventists who believed that her body had become the temple of the holy spirit. I'm still looking at this so I welcome all ideas.
    I am led to believe that it is RELIGION that gives properties leading to a longer life. It is NOT stress-free prayer, yoga, meditation or some other form of relaxation of the 'mind over body' mongers. It is religion. Now religion is a system of collective worship which usually involves a deity. So is it the system or the deity or both that is at work here?
    Looking at world life expectancy rates I find that the top two are Japan and Hong Kong. These appear to be more like hotbeds of capitalism than religion to me. By comparison, India comes in at #116.
    There is some evidence to suggest that religion can actually damage your health. Karen Armstrong had to leave her convent because of the bullying nature of her superiors (Karen Armstrong, The Spiral Staircase). Her health returned later. This was not the first time I had read claims like these.
    I doubt whether the victims of religious wars and persecution would have agreed that their lives were being extended by religion. And religion remains a danger to the world.
    Many have also claimed that prayer has the power of miraculous healing, while disregarding the fact that they had had medical treatment.
    I can't help feeling that all these wonderful claims for religion are there to protect its memes, and it unfortunately shows no sign of a memetic dead-end.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Yes, and that was precisely my frustration. I had heard this idea before but this was the first time I had heard it on a scientific program, the normally reliable Horizon (Nova) on BBC. They provided no evidence for this assertion other than from an elderly lady of the Seventh Day Adventists who believed that her body had become the temple of the holy spirit.
    You are frustated by the unsupported assertions that were made in a TV documentary. So, naturally, the thing to do is to go on the Scientific Study of Religion forum and make another set of unsupported assertions of your own. This will balance things out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    So, I have no idea what you are or were trying to get at.
    As it relates to the OP, I could not find any examination where people of faith lived longer than others based on their faith. The best I could find relating directly to the OP was "Religious Attendance: More Cost Effective Than Lipitor?"(Religious Attendance: More Cost-Effective Than Lipitor? sid=488b05d0-51ba-44a1-8f9a-82dfc2a6e8d9). Which attempts show a cost benefit of Religious Attendance over statin-type lipid-lowering agents? I don't understand the rational of such an examination; I compare it to finding a cost benefit of going to NFL games on Sunday over statin-type agents.

    For my previous disjointed post (due to lack of sleep), I attempted to show information that contradicts the common claim of having religion help you live longer. When I reviewed the first study relating to patients in end-of-life situations, I was surprised that the religious choose aggressive resuscitation. I assumed that those that held a belief in an afterlife and that they have earned the right to their preferred destination, would want to get there as opposed to staying in painful terminal existence. What could have a higher priority to religious person than meeting their god, when they have consistently claimed that there was nothing more important? “Perhaps they don’t genuinely believe,” was the only rational I could think of. I don’t want to hyjack this thread, so I’ll just file that question in my “requires further study” bin. As it relates to this study the only situation I see where religious person may outlive a non-religious one, is when individuals of comparable age experience clinical death and the non-religious person has a Do Not Resuscitate order.

    When comparing religious vs non-religious approach to alcohol addiction therapy, The 12 Step program of AA appeals to a theistic view of a deity.
    The most recent survey of AA members, conducted in 2007, found that 33% had been continuously sober for more than 10 years, 12% had between 5 and 10 years of sobriety, 24% between 1 and 5 years, and 31% less than 1 year. Comprehensively, the average length of sobriety for all members was more than 8 years, with 52% of the membership being between 41 and 60 years of age (http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-48_07survey.pdf).” Effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Psychology Today article claims:
    “…the most successful treatments are nonconfrontational approaches that allow self-propelled change….
    … People change when they want it badly enough and when they feel strong enough to face the challenge, not when they're humiliated or coerced. An approach that empowers and offers positive reinforcement is preferable to one that strips the individual of agency. These techniques are most likely to elicit real changes, however short of perfect and hard-won they may be.”

    The theistic approach of AA 12 Steps does not have a greater benefit in this comparison.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    So, I have no idea what you are or were trying to get at.
    As it relates to the OP, I could not find any examination where people of faith lived longer than others based on their faith. The best I could find relating directly to the OP was "Religious Attendance: More Cost Effective Than Lipitor?"(Religious Attendance: More Cost-Effective Than Lipitor? sid=488b05d0-51ba-44a1-8f9a-82dfc2a6e8d9). Which attempts show a cost benefit of Religious Attendance over statin-type lipid-lowering agents? I don't understand the rational of such an examination; I compare it to finding a cost benefit of going to NFL games on Sunday over statin-type agents.
    Going to NFL games on Sunday just might be better than taking statin drugs. I cannot tell from the information provided.
    For my previous disjointed post (due to lack of sleep), I attempted to show information that contradicts the common claim of having religion help you live longer. When I reviewed the first study relating to patients in end-of-life situations, I was surprised that the religious choose aggressive resuscitation. I assumed that those that held a belief in an afterlife and that they have earned the right to their preferred destination, would want to get there as opposed to staying in painful terminal existence. What could have a higher priority to religious person than meeting their god, when they have consistently claimed that there was nothing more important? “Perhaps they don’t genuinely believe,” was the only rational I could think of.
    Most religious people I know still want to live. I think the rationale given was that they would be more inclined to believe they could be saved by a miracle.
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    I think everyone is getting a bit carried away here, if we are talking strictly about the idea that believing can make people live longer with no other factors and not about the lifestyle changes and psychological changes that the religion might bring about then I'd have to say not and that idea is absolute bunkum. How could it?

    So that means the only possible way that it can have an effect on life expectancy is through possitive and negative psychological influences people feel from participating in the religion and through the lifestyle changes they make for the sake of their religion.

    Now this leaves us with a problem in scientific terms, because there are different religions, people participate in religion at different levels, i.e. not everybody is quite as observant of religious rules and practices as others, also the same religion may have different effects on people.

    So this means that even if we can get people to study from the same back grounds, of the same race, health ect.., that participate in the same religion we can still not come to any conclusions that it is the religion that is effecting life expectancy. There are just to many variables for any sort of truely scientific determination, at best we can look at some indicators and say certain things are suggestive, but even then with no degree of accuracy.

    So in conclusion I'd probarbly say that anything in life that makes you happy is just as likely to make live longer than religion would.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisgorlitz View Post
    I think everyone is getting a bit carried away here, if we are talking strictly about the idea that believing can make people live longer with no other factors and not about the lifestyle changes and psychological changes that the religion might bring about then I'd have to say not and that idea is absolute bunkum. How could it?
    Easily. If one or more religions is true then the God of that religion may decide to grant his believers some extra life. If we admit, no matter how remote, the possibility that there is a God who takes an interest in human affairs then we must admit that she could influence the lifespan of humans.
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    So we should all pray to, now what was it someone called it, yes that's it the 'sky fairy' to make us live longer.
    Last edited by Ascended; July 21st, 2012 at 11:59 AM. Reason: I put show instead of so.
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    You are making illogical assertions. Please properly explore the caveats implicit and explicit in my post. You made an absolute statement - there was no means by which followers of religion could experience an extended life. I demonstrated there was a possibility, probably remote, that there was such a mechanism. It is illogical on that basis to leap to the conclusion we should choose to follow a religion. You reactions are unscieintific and appear to be based upon a dogmatic view of religion.
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    Sorry, my post was mean't as a joke.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisgorlitz View Post
    I think everyone is getting a bit carried away here, if we are talking strictly about the idea that believing can make people live longer with no other factors and not about the lifestyle changes and psychological changes that the religion might bring about then I'd have to say not and that idea is absolute bunkum. How could it?

    So that means the only possible way that it can have an effect on life expectancy is through possitive and negative psychological influences people feel from participating in the religion and through the lifestyle changes they make for the sake of their religion.

    Now this leaves us with a problem in scientific terms, because there are different religions, people participate in religion at different levels, i.e. not everybody is quite as observant of religious rules and practices as others, also the same religion may have different effects on people.

    So this means that even if we can get people to study from the same back grounds, of the same race, health ect.., that participate in the same religion we can still not come to any conclusions that it is the religion that is effecting life expectancy. There are just to many variables for any sort of truely scientific determination, at best we can look at some indicators and say certain things are suggestive, but even then with no degree of accuracy.

    So in conclusion I'd probarbly say that anything in life that makes you happy is just as likely to make live longer than religion would.
    It's easy enough to say that making a lifestyle change will have the same effect, that doesn't mean anybody can do it without any kind of plan or regimen. You can say, I can lose just as much weight as someone on Weightwatchers just by limiting my caloric intake. That is absolutely true, but easier said than done. So, that's why it would be valid to study the results of Weighwatcher, Jenny Craig, etc. and see which method has the most success.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Easily. If one or more religions is true then the God of that religion may decide to grant his believers some extra life. If we admit, no matter how remote, the possibility that there is a God who takes an interest in human affairs then we must admit that she could influence the lifespan of humans.
    Yes, but that would be a topic for the Unscientific Study of Religion forum.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    It's easy enough to say that making a lifestyle change will have the same effect, that doesn't mean anybody can do it without any kind of plan or regimen. You can say, I can lose just as much weight as someone on Weightwatchers just by limiting my caloric intake. That is absolutely true, but easier said than done. So, that's why it would be valid to study the results of Weighwatcher, Jenny Craig, etc. and see which method has the most success.
    I agree that if it were actually feesable, the problem though the way I see it is it going to be near impossible to acheive on any scale worthwhile, for example we could to small towns each with a small church and 200 people regularly attending. They are all members of the same religion and as such suppossed to observe the same religious practices.
    Yet what we might find is that one congregation may leave feel invigorated and enthusiastic and the other may feeling tired and guilty. This is because different ministers are going to preach in different ways with different effects. Therefore there is no uniformity and thus to many variables.

    Even if it were possible at best all we could say was it effected a certain group of people in a certain place of a certain religion that perform certain religious observances that don't have specific medical conditions or diseases that don't or do all smoke and drink may live longer.

    So would this really be very useful with such limitations?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisgorlitz View Post
    So would this really be very useful with such limitations?
    That's the kind of problem you always run into with sociological studies. People are not lab rats. You can't isolate them from the outside environment and do a controlled experiment. Even if you could do that for some period of time, their behavior will be affected by what has happened to them their entire lives. I always take it with a grain of salt when somebody makes claims such as about how crime rates are affected by certain laws, for example. Usually the situations that are being compared are vastly different. Social studies are the closest you can get to pseudoscience without actually being pseudoscience.
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    I think religion can increase life expectancy for the following reasons;

    - Less suicide rates, as for all who commit suicide will fear everlasting torment in the fiery parts of hell.

    - More peace of mind, as we will know we will see god when we die, and we will experience everlasting happyness. Means less stress and less cardiovascular diseases etc.

    - Going to church, or mosque can be called exercise. Sitting on an uncomfortable bench, and kneeling will be much more exercise many people get regularly.

    - Rules about food, less pork is consumed in non christian beliefs. In chistian beliefs there is a period where no meat and no candy or alcohol may be consumed, neiter is smoking allowed. This can increase health.

    But i doubt religion changes this in real life, for the following reason;

    - People sin.

    It's not the churches fault that being religious doesn't increase life expectancy. It's the peoples for sinning while under it's "rule".
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    There would be too many variables in this question to answer properly.

    I could imagine a person who is religious living longer. If you really do treat your body as a temple, then you probably eat a healthy diet and exercise. You would be more likely to avoid drinking or smoking. I suppose it is possible you could achieve a greater sense of inner peace. Maybe you would have lower blood pressure and reduced risk of related illnesses.

    That's all speculation, of course. I don't know that I've ever heard of reputable scientific exploration into the idea that religion increases life expectancy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    What does the above have to do with religion? Can a non-religious person not go to AA?
    A non-religious person can attend AA, but what would be the value of steps/tenants that appeal to a deity if that person holds no belief of a deity?
    One of the challenges I watched time and time again was the Army didn't have many other options for alcohol treatment other than religious based AA, which of course didn't work for a good number of soldiers who weren't religious. Truth be told even AA wasn't all that effective, but it was better than nothing. I've had long discussions with a friend of mine about similar challenges of dealing with suicidal soldiers--his question always boiling down to how to talk to an atheist Soldier who's considering suicide?

    --
    There are of course studies that attempt to link religiosity, measured by something objective, such as church attendance to physical and mental wellbeing.
    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/hea/28/1/117/

    Overall though, I think the question is too broad. I've known a good share of Catholic wine drinking drunks who shortened their own lives and probably their families as well--on the other hand I know quite a few secular folks who live modestly, keep good friends and will probably live to a ripe old age. The particulars of the religion or non-religious beliefs about lifestyle are more important than religion in general.
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