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Author Topic:   Religious Affiliation and Health
truthlover
Member (Idle past 1958 days)
Posts: 1548
From: Selmer, TN
Joined: 02-12-2003


Message 1 of 17 (381859)
02-02-2007 10:02 AM


In another thread, Percy referenced some studies on prayer and health outcomes. I followed his links, as well as googling a bit, and I found these studies far more interesting than I expected.

1. In a study of just Eastern Orthodox and Lutheran men, the researchers concluded "Our findings indicate that mortality risk varies substantially by religious affiliation, and this variation cannot be attributed to differences in measures for a wide variety of health, behavioural, socioeconomic, biological, social, and other characteristics."

3. However, for religious affiliation in general this article says, "Numerous investigators have demonstrated that persons who participate regularly in religious activities live longer compared with others with less religious involvement." Of course, this is most true of "conservative religious groups with a strict lifestyle, particularly Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-Day Adventists, Amish, and Hutterites," who "generally show longer survival rates along with lower age-specific rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer." This study, for example, says active LDS members have lower mortality than the general population.

Although these questions don't necessarily follow from the two points I just mentioned. I'd like to ask these questions about comments made on studies made directly on prayer:

1. This extract states: "Whilst the outcomes of trials of prayer cannot be interpreted as 'proof/disproof' of God's response to those praying, there may be an effect of prayer not dependent on divine intervention. This may be quantifiable, making this investigation of a most widely used health care intervention both possible and important."

Do you think it's true that the outcomes of trials of prayer cannot be interpreted as 'proof/disproof' of God's response to those praying, but could only show an effect of prayer not dependent on divine intervention? If so, why?

2. This response to an abstract questions the validity of prayer studies at all, based on 1. the need to obtain informed consent ruins the reliability of the study, 2. a conscientious religious person should pray for the control group as well as the prayer group, and 3. the researchers and intercessors have to take opposing approaches to the study, correlation-first vs. causation-first, respectively.

Do you think prayer studies or health outcome studies can validly determine the effect of prayer? Do you think they should have any applicability to choice of lifestyles?

Two comments: A. Please don't answer that last question with comments about legislating lifestyles; I'm talking about personal decisions. This is not a political thread. B. This last question would be helped by studies I found on suicide, neurosis, and psychosis according to religious affiliation, but let's stick to physical health or the topic will be too wide.

I'd prefer "Is it Science," but maybe "Faith and Belief" is better.


Replies to this message:
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doctrbill
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 1174
From: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Joined: 01-08-2001


Message 2 of 17 (382980)
02-06-2007 2:34 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by truthlover
02-02-2007 10:02 AM


truthlover writes:

"... mortality risk varies substantially by religious affiliation,

I have been aware of that association for some time. Seventh-day Adventists are quite enamored of their fame in this regard. Personally, however, having been raised Seventh-day Adventist, groomed for the ministry, and subsequently (long story short) a self proclaimed atheist - I have a rather different take on the facts of this matter. For me, freedom of thought is an important aspect of existence without which there can be no quality of life. For me, affiliation with the SDA church precluded the 'liberty' which that institution promises in such glowing terms. And they are not alone in hawking a purported new lease on life. I must therefore issue my rather insensitive but deadly serious, and not unrelated, observation:

People on drugs, people on life support, and people who engage in low risk occupations tend to live longer than those who daily risk their lives and avoid or cannot obtain good medical care.

That said, I wish to comment on the question of prayer.

Do you think it's true that the outcomes of trials of prayer cannot be interpreted as 'proof/disproof' of God's response to those praying, but could only show an effect of prayer not dependent on divine intervention? If so, why?

Prayer works equally well for persons who do not believe in God. Thus, the outcome of those trials can neither prove nor disprove the existence or intervention of a deity.

Do you think prayer studies or health outcome studies can validly determine the effect of prayer?

I imagine they might if one could quantify and/or qualify exactly that which constitues prayer to such a degree that one could distinguish between test subjects who know how to pray and those who do not. If we were to attempt this as a scientific experiment we would need a definition of prayer which sees beyond linguistic and sectarian considerations to focus on the universally human factors involved in prayer, i.e. what is actually happening, neurologically, in the brain. We would have to come up with a definition of prayer which applies equally to Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, and Atheist formats of 'spiritual' petition.

Do you think they should have any applicability to choice of lifestyles?

Are you asking whether study subjects should be grouped according to "choice of lifesyle"? Why would one do that? To enrich the success of a group one expects to pray more effectively? Or are you asking if the outcome of the experiment might influence one's decision regarding whether or not to affiliate himself with an organized religion? If that is what you mean, then I would recommend you don't count these chickens until they are hatched.


Theology is the science of Dominion.
- - - My God is your god's Boss - - -
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by truthlover, posted 02-02-2007 10:02 AM truthlover has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by truthlover, posted 02-07-2007 5:44 PM doctrbill has responded

  
doctrbill
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 1174
From: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Joined: 01-08-2001


Message 3 of 17 (383187)
02-07-2007 12:31 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by truthlover
02-02-2007 10:02 AM


Please Respond
A response from you would be appreciated, even if it is only an acknowledgement that you are aware of my reply to your OP.


Theology is the science of Dominion.
- - - My God is your god's Boss - - -
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by truthlover, posted 02-02-2007 10:02 AM truthlover has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by truthlover, posted 02-07-2007 3:04 PM doctrbill has responded

  
truthlover
Member (Idle past 1958 days)
Posts: 1548
From: Selmer, TN
Joined: 02-12-2003


Message 4 of 17 (383248)
02-07-2007 3:04 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by doctrbill
02-07-2007 12:31 PM


Re: Please Respond
I was unaware of your reply to my OP. I found it only in the topic list (just now), not on my own list of posts. Apparently, my minor amount of color blindness caused me to see both the original PNT thread and the current open one as closed on my page, so I ignored both.

I don't have time to answer right now, but the next time I'm on, I'll know that this thread is not closed and I'll respond.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by doctrbill, posted 02-07-2007 12:31 PM doctrbill has responded

Replies to this message:
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doctrbill
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 1174
From: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Joined: 01-08-2001


Message 5 of 17 (383306)
02-07-2007 5:25 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by truthlover
02-07-2007 3:04 PM


Re: Please Respond
Thank you TL.

Sounds like your eyes are almost as good as mine. :D

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Theology is the science of Dominion.
- - - My God is your god's Boss - - -
This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by truthlover, posted 02-07-2007 3:04 PM truthlover has not yet responded

  
truthlover
Member (Idle past 1958 days)
Posts: 1548
From: Selmer, TN
Joined: 02-12-2003


Message 6 of 17 (383316)
02-07-2007 5:44 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by doctrbill
02-06-2007 2:34 PM


People on drugs, people on life support, and people who engage in low risk occupations tend to live longer than those who daily risk their lives and avoid or cannot obtain good medical care.

Um...

Really not sure what any of those categories have to do with each other, why you brought them up, or if any of that matters. I assume you were really trying to make some point which escapes me.

Or are you asking if the outcome of the experiment might influence one's decision regarding whether or not to affiliate himself with an organized religion?

this one

I would recommend you don't count these chickens until they are hatched.

The question was, even if they did hatch, would there be any reason to pick a new lifestyle.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by doctrbill, posted 02-06-2007 2:34 PM doctrbill has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by doctrbill, posted 02-07-2007 6:16 PM truthlover has responded

  
doctrbill
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 1174
From: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Joined: 01-08-2001


Message 7 of 17 (383332)
02-07-2007 6:16 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by truthlover
02-07-2007 5:44 PM


truthlover writes:

Really not sure what any of those categories have to do with each other, why you brought them up, or if any of that matters.

The point is that there are many things which can contribute to extended survival. Scientifically, these must be considered variables, because, for example, persons of a certain socio-economic status may tend to gravitate toward certain religious groups, e.g. Mormon, or Seventh-day Adventist. If memory serves, SDA's boast a higher percentage of medical doctors in their ranks. That, it seems, is a significant factor with potential to change the outcome of the study. If the membership lives longer because it has a higher percentage of health professionals then it may say nothing about the effect of what one ordinarily imagines to be 'religious' teachings.

The question was, even if they did hatch, would there be any reason to pick a new lifestyle.

If the outcome indicated that prayer can make one immortal then, sure, many would want to have a go at it. But that is likely all they'd want: to learn to pray. If, on the other hand, the outcome showed that such salvation can only accrue to those who practice polygamy, drink red wine and regularly go skinny dipping, then many might consider changing their lifestyle. But ... as the saying goes ... 'you can't get there from here.' As I attempted to suggest before: the question can't really be answered until the studies are complete and have been subjected to the scientific 'gauntlet,' i.e. until something 'hatches.' Otherwise it remains a big 'if' and discussion of it remains in the realm of speculation. Scientifically speaking, of course.


Theology is the science of Dominion.
- - - My God is your god's Boss - - -
This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by truthlover, posted 02-07-2007 5:44 PM truthlover has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by truthlover, posted 02-07-2007 6:48 PM doctrbill has responded

  
truthlover
Member (Idle past 1958 days)
Posts: 1548
From: Selmer, TN
Joined: 02-12-2003


Message 8 of 17 (383344)
02-07-2007 6:48 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by doctrbill
02-07-2007 6:16 PM


If the membership lives longer because it has a higher percentage of health professionals then it may say nothing about the effect of what one ordinarily imagines to be 'religious' teachings.

I don't know that doctors live longer than anyone else. [url=http://www.vet-task-force.com/Wallach.htm]This web site[/a][/a]This web site[/a][/a]This web site[/a] says, "to the National Center for Health Statistics, American physicians live an average of 69.7 years, less than the national average."

We do know, however, that people who eat the kind of diets that the SDA recommends live longer. So, it seems much more likely that the relationship is between SDA health practices and longer life, not vocation and long life, especially if that statistic above is accurate.

it may say nothing about the effect of what one ordinarily imagines to be 'religious' teachings.

I didn't suggest SDA's longer life has anything to do with religious teachings.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by doctrbill, posted 02-07-2007 6:16 PM doctrbill has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by doctrbill, posted 02-08-2007 12:26 AM truthlover has responded

  
iceage 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3813 days)
Posts: 1024
From: Pacific Northwest
Joined: 09-08-2003


Message 9 of 17 (383363)
02-07-2007 7:38 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by truthlover
02-02-2007 10:02 AM


Prayer Success Coefficient
tl writes:

Do you think prayer studies or health outcome studies can validly determine the effect of prayer?

Maybe God truly works in mysterious ways and he wants to keep it that way!

Maybe if conscious minds observe the outcomes of a particular case the outcome is altered in manner similar to observing a specific particle in the double-slit experiment.

However, if the results are quantifiable there is always the problem you presented earlier that you have to select the "right" group to do the praying.

This assumes the results are binary (ie the right group gets its prayers answered and all the rest don't).

However, maybe the Lutherans get some success while the Baptists get more and the Catholics yet even more.

I think there should be a study attempting to find what I will call the PSC or Prayer Success Coefficient for the various religious groups. And then extend that out to the other big religions. Do the Hindu's or Muslim's have a negative coefficient?

Edited by iceage, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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kuresu
Member (Idle past 412 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 10 of 17 (383383)
02-07-2007 8:20 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by iceage
02-07-2007 7:38 PM


Re: Prayer Success Coefficient
Do the Hindu's or Muslim's have a negative coefficient?

only if they're praying to the wrong god(s). but then, they think their's is the true one (most likely).

i find the whole thing relatively silly. if it helps you feel better, good for you. if the person who's being prayed for feels better, good for them. it's all probably in our heads--look, I've emotional support!. i'm happy!.

there's nothing like knowing people care about and for you. and i think that a better mood helps your health. (better being less stressed, less worried, less angry, etc.) so in effect, these prayers are helping to achieve that better mood.

eh, what do I know? pay no attention to my mainly rambling stuff.


Question. Always Question.

" . . .and some nights I just pray to the god of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll"--meatloaf

Want to help give back to the world community? Did you know that your computer can help? Join the newest TeamEvC Climate Modelling to help improve climate predictions for a better tomorrow.


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doctrbill
Member (Idle past 663 days)
Posts: 1174
From: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Joined: 01-08-2001


Message 11 of 17 (383414)
02-08-2007 12:26 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by truthlover
02-07-2007 6:48 PM


truthlover writes:

... I didn't suggest SDA's longer life has anything to do with religious teachings.

Did I misunderstand the following?

... persons who participate regularly in religious activities live longer ... particularly Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-Day Adventists, Amish, and Hutterites," ...

Are you suggesting that religious teaching and religious activity are unrelated?

Seventh Day Adventists are religiously taught that they should strive to live healthfully. Healthful living is for them a religious activity which they pursue according to the religious teaching. This, they believe, is what gives them an edge in the longevity game. How does one dissect religious practice from religious teaching or declare either to be other than religious activity?


Theology is the science of Dominion.
- - - My God is your god's Boss - - -
This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by truthlover, posted 02-07-2007 6:48 PM truthlover has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by truthlover, posted 02-08-2007 12:52 PM doctrbill has not yet responded

  
truthlover
Member (Idle past 1958 days)
Posts: 1548
From: Selmer, TN
Joined: 02-12-2003


Message 12 of 17 (383485)
02-08-2007 12:52 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by doctrbill
02-08-2007 12:26 AM


Did I misunderstand the following?

Yes.

You were reading a quote from a study. It says those who participate in religious activities live longer. It then says "especially" about four groups that don't eat like the average American eats.

I infer from that that it's their eating that causes them to live longer, because we already know that eating the way they do is associated with living longer.

Are you suggesting that religious teaching and religious activity are unrelated?

I am suggesting that their religious teaching on health practices cause them to live longer because those health practices cause you to live longer.


This message is a reply to:
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ramoss
Member
Posts: 3078
Joined: 08-11-2004


Message 13 of 17 (383499)
02-08-2007 1:13 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by truthlover
02-02-2007 10:02 AM


One point is that the groups that you are pointing out that have longer life also have a healthier life style. Drinking and drugs are discouraged. That kind of life style also contributes to a healthier , longer life.

You do not need religious affliation to have that healthier life style.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by truthlover, posted 02-02-2007 10:02 AM truthlover has not yet responded

  
Kader
Member (Idle past 1625 days)
Posts: 156
Joined: 12-20-2006


Message 14 of 17 (383531)
02-08-2007 2:08 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by truthlover
02-02-2007 10:02 AM


Here's an interesting link Published March 31, 2006.

Here's a quote

quote:
In another of the study's findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for — 59 percent — suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain. The authors left open the possibility that this was a chance finding. But they said that being aware of the strangers' prayers also may have caused some of the patients a kind of performance anxiety.

"It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?" Dr. Bethea said.


quote:
One reason the study was so widely anticipated was that it was led by Dr. Benson, who in his work has emphasized the soothing power of personal prayer and meditation.

quote:
Bob Barth, the spiritual director of Silent Unity, the Missouri prayer ministry, said the findings would not affect the ministry's mission.

"A person of faith would say that this study is interesting," Mr. Barth said, "but we've been praying a long time and we've seen prayer work, we know it works, and the research on prayer and spirituality is just getting started."


Youa asked

Truthlover writes:

Do you think prayer studies or health outcome studies can validly determine the effect of prayer?

Absolutly, if the effects are visible in our reality (the physical world) then it can be studied. We're not looking for the cause here, we're just looking at the results (implying that the cause could be either divine or human, doesn't matter)

truthlover writes:

Do you think they should have any applicability to choice of lifestyles?

It will have little to no impact really.

People who believe in prayer will (as I quoted earlier) find a cop-out. ie : but we've been praying a long time and we've seen prayer work, we know it works...

And people who don't believe in it will just find yet another ammunition to their arsenal. As my personal opinion I think it SHOULD have an impact, but it really won't.

Science has been destroying every "scientific evidence" brought forth by religions, and the followers just keep there faith with classical cop-out. Be it the innerantist or the more open minded religious, they are only at a different level of delusion.

-- No amount of proof will ever make you change your mind


This message is a reply to:
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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 1496 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 15 of 17 (383550)
02-08-2007 2:57 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by truthlover
02-02-2007 10:02 AM


Whistling in the Dark
A 1992 study at Vanderbilt University (Meador et al) found remarkable differences in levels of depression depending on religious affiliation.

Guess which religious group took the prize for Most Depressed Members.


The six-month prevalence of major depression among Pentecostals was 5.4 percent, compared with 1.7 percent for the entire sample. Even after psychosocial factors such as gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, negative life events, and social support were controlled for, the likelihood of major depression among Pentecostals was three times greater than among persons with other affiliations.

- from the abstract

___


Archer

All species are transitional.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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