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Religion can make you happier and healthier. What science says about religious practice. Some say religion is a destructive force. A growing body of scientific research says otherwise. It says religion is personally and socially beneficial.

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Presentation Transcript
what science says about religious practice
What science says about religious practice
  • Some say religion is a destructive force.
  • A growing body of scientific research says otherwise.
  • It says religion is personally and socially beneficial

Professor Richard Dawkins: author of ‘The God Delusion’. But is he right?

growing interest
There are now hundreds of studies showing the link between personal well-being and religion

Religious believers are happier and healthier on average

Growing Interest
going with the grain of the brain
“The way the brain works is so compatible with religion and spirituality that we’re going to be enmeshed in both for a long time” Dr. Andrew Newberg.

Wired for religion?

Going with the grain of the brain
prayer pays off
Pray and meditate long enough and changes in the brain become permanent; e.g. better memory. Fasting can lead to a state of clarity and even euphoria. Prayer pays off
religion or spirituality
A Canadian study of 70,000 people found that it was being part of a religion, as distinct from being ‘spiritual’ only, that had the stronger positive effect on mental health. Religion or ‘spirituality’?
positive social effect
If religion is practiced by a large number of people, then its benefits will accrue to society as a whole.

Therefore religion is generally a positive force in society

Positive social effect
how religion helps the specifics
Studies show that religious practice:

reduces the risk of suicide.

reduces the risk of depression.

helps cope with bereavement

How religion helps: the specifics
slide11
Religious practice reduces risk-taking and sexual behaviour among teenagers.

Self-esteem is also increased.

nobody grows old at the table
Active religious practice increases the chances of living longer by 29%, and public religious practice increases the chances of living longer by 43%.‘Nobody grows old at the table’
marriage
The greatest amount of marital stability is found among couples who practice the same religion.

Least stable if both are not religious.

Why? Religious couples attach more importance to commitment than to personal autonomy.

Marriage
delinquency and crime
It is generally believed that religion discourages serious crime through the intensification of personal and group-level morality. Delinquency and crime
image of god
People who believe in a loving God fare better after a diagnosis of illness than people who believe in a punitive God.Image of God
mystical experiences
Brain scans showed, in a study of 15 Carmelite Nuns, that there is a lot more brain activity as a result of mystical experiences than of emotional experiences. Mystical experiences
why these benefits
Why these benefits?
  • Religion joins you to a community that acts as a support
  • Gives you a sense of meaning and purpose
  • Gives good rules for living
the truth will set you free
“If the fact of one’s faith did, just as an example, make one more relaxed, or happy, or courageous, or whatever, it might suggest that the truth claims of Christianity are not trivial, and are worth investigating”. Timothy Radcliffe, OP ‘The Truth will set you free’
learn more
Learn more
  • This presentation is based on a paper prepared by psychiatrist, Professor Patricia Casey.
  • It can be downloaded from www.ionainstitute.ie
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