Tom Gilson

Spirituality and Life Outcomes

I’ve written several posts citing research showing that spirituality is associated with improved outcomes in life. I expect more of them to follow. Each of these has come from science news reports issued since I began blogging in October 2004.

Multiple Topics:

(This is the granddaddy of all these studies: a model of excellent research methodology, with a large sample size, predominantly Christians.)

Physical Health:

Emotional/Relational/Character Growth:

Converse Cases
These studies are not about spirituality per se, but relate to negative effects of living contrary to Biblical principles.

Unsuccessful Counterexamples:

The Exception That Really Does Prove the Rule:

Other counterexamples will be posted here if any appear.

Do studies like this prove Christianity is for real? No: for one thing, they involve far too many other variables (including other religions included in the study groups); for another, they are all correlational studies that do not show causation. The real value of studies like this is that they refute the view that religion is a scourge on society, a sign of weakness or poor mental health.

For decades, social scientists’ thinking about religion was dominated by Freud, who considered religion to be the universal neurosis, and by Schopenhauer, who reduced it to mere wish fulfillment. Marx famously called it the opiate of the people, a means of deadening oneself to the realities of life. If that were true, though, religious attitudes should be generally accompanied by other evidence of neuroses (to stick with Freud’s dated term) or of socio-emotional weakness. The opposite is the case. Freud, Marx, and Schopenhauer were wrong.

We can also say confidently that the Bible’s predictions of joy, peace, direction, satisfaction, and so on are supported through studies like this.

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