More "Benefits" of Faith: shorter hospital stays, better recoveries 

Religious belief is associated with shorter hospital stays and better recoveries, says the University of Michigan. 

On November 2 I commented on a study that shows that a spiritually inclined student is a happier student. Now there is also research from the University of Michigan showing that "Religious faith shortens hospital stays, aids recovery."

So what's the point of saying this? Does this prove Christianity is real? That's not the point. Well, in a way it is, but we have to approach it from this direction: if Christianity really is true, it should make a visible difference in lives. This research points in that direction.

Not all such research is positive; apparently born-again Christians in America are as likely to divorce as non-Christians, according to George Barna. As with all research (especially social research), though, it's important to consider the research questions and design carefully. Consider this: I work with a mission agency that has about 5,000 U.S.-based staff, the majority of them married, all of them highly committed to their walk with Christ. We have fewer than 5 divorces per year among those thousands. Therefore the question Barna's research raises to me is not, "Is Christianity valid?" but rather, "What does this tell us about the quality of American Christianity?" Could it be that deeper Christian lives would bring down the divorce rate?

Back to the question, do studies like this prove Christianity is real? No; for one thing, there are far too many other variables, not least of which is that these studies on students and medical patients do not distinguish various religions; they only deal with whether a person has a spiritual orientation.

The real value of studies like this is that they refute those who view religion as a scourge on society. As I noted on November 2, many have viewed religion as a thing whose time has passed. History is now showing us otherwise, and this medical study is just more evidence of the same. 

Posted: Sun - November 21, 2004 at 12:26 PM           |

© 2004-2007 by Tom Gilson. Permission is granted to quote up to two paragraphs of any blog entry, provided that a link back to the original is included or (in print) the website address is provided. Please email me regarding longer quotes. All other rights reserved.

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