A subject I’d like to soon leave, but they have dominated the news all week, and today’s slice of time is the regularly scheduled slot for religions. That includes Darwinism, some of whose adherents appear to be engaged in a near riot over a banknote.
Over at the The Telegraph, novelist, journalist, and travel writer Sean Thomas asks, “Are atheists mentally ill?”:
Let’s dispense with the crude metric of IQ and look at the actual lives led by atheists, and believers, and see how they measure up. In other words: let’s see who is living more intelligently.
And guess what: it’s the believers. A vast body of research, amassed over recent decades, shows that religious belief is physically and psychologically beneficial – to a remarkable degree.
In 2004, scholars at UCLA revealed that college students involved in religious activities are likely to have better mental health. In 2006, population researchers at the University of Texas discovered that the more often you go to church, the longer you live. In the same year researchers at Duke University in America discovered that religious people have stronger immune systems than the irreligious. They also established that churchgoers have lower blood pressure.
Meanwhile in 2009 a team of Harvard psychologists discovered that believers who checked into hospital with broken hips reported less depression, had shorter hospital stays, and could hobble further when they left hospital – as compared to their similarly crippled but heathen fellow-sufferers.
All this and more has been wll-known for some time, and it is a key reason that hospitals make chaplaincy services available.
I don’t believe it is true, as Thomas suggests, that the human being is “hardwired for religion.”
Rather, the human being has a reasoning brain, capable of abstraction, and can therefore ask such questions as “If I do wrong, and get away with it, does it really matter, as long as I still feel good about myself? Or is there another, higher law that my conscience warns me of?”
“Evolution” does not produce this effect. Unless, of course, one means by “evolution” only that humans have the mental ability to follow such reasoning but there were once prehumans who did not. Well, if so, they don’t really figure in what we are talking about here.
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose