A Conversation for The Evolutionary Advantages of Faith

The power of belief

Post 1


A very interesting article. Belief in something 'larger' than ordinary empirical existence does seem to confer a survival advantage. How it does this has yet to be conclusively demonstrated. I have a couple of questions:

1. Re point 4 - 'Seventh Day Adventist males live an average of eight years longer than adherents of other faiths'

Why would this be? Is this proof that 7th Day Adventists' faith is more correct than any other? Or that regardless of objective accuracy, somehow 7th day Adventism is somehow more powerful than other faiths? Where did this statistic come from? If this is proof that 'faith' in the supernatural confers longer life expectancy, why is it specific to one particular flavour of faith? (What about SDA females?)

2. How is this article affected by the findings this year (New Scientist, 7 April, 2006) 'Praying for someone might give you hope, but it won't help them recover from heart surgery. It may even harm them. That's the surprising result from a multi-year clinical trial on the therapeutic effects of prayer.'

To quote:

Herbert Benson and Jeffery Dusek of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and their colleagues followed the fates of 1802 patients undergoing coronary bypass operations. Several Christian prayer groups prayed for one set of patients, while another did not receive any prayers. Although all these patients knew they were in the trial, neither they nor their doctors knew which of the groups they were in.

The prayers made no detectable difference. In the first month after surgery, 52 per cent of prayed-for patients and 51 per cent of non-prayed-for patients suffered one or more complications, the researchers found (American Heart Journal, vol 151, p 934).

A third group of patients received the same prayers as the first group, but were told they were being prayed for. Of these, 59 per cent suffered complications - significantly more than the patients left unsure of whether they were receiving prayers.

The researchers have no explanation for this result, but Mitchell Krukoff at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, suggests that the burden of knowing they were being prayed for may have put added stress on these patients after their surgery.

Does this demonstrate that it all comes down to 'mind over matter' and that those who knew they were being prayed for perhaps were more consciously aware of their ill-health, and this was reflected physically?

I remember reading fairly recently (but unfortunately cannot find a reference smiley - erm) that regular viewers of soap operas have a slightly greater life-expectancy than other people. I can't help feeling that this is another aspect of the religionist phenomenon (and that couples live longer than singles) - that people who invest/transfer part of their existence in(to) another entity, whose existence they perceive as bein independent of themselves (whether real, i.e. spouse, or imaginary, i.e. god/east enders) live longer.

Key: Complain about this post

The power of belief

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more