Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Religion and its health benefits vs. Darwinism and its quackery

There has been a significant amount controversy in the United States about a new federal healthcare law commonly called ObamaCare. One of the problems of ObamaCare is that it violates the religious freedom of Americans who are pro-life.

I thought this medical press release was a timely reminder of the benefits of religious freedom:
Despite differences in rituals and beliefs among the world's major religions, spirituality often enhances health regardless of a person's faith, according to University of Missouri researchers.

I also found a 2001 press release put out by the Mayo Clinic related to religion and health. In addition, I included some additional material in this article supporting the Mayo Clinic's findings. Furthermore, below are some articles on how the pseudoscience of Darwinism has impeded medical science.

Here is a portion of the press release:
Study, review and editorial focus on religion, spirituality and medicine

A study that appears in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings outlines the importance of religion and spirituality in medicine with many patients, but notes it is difficult to prove that the result is better health from intercessory prayer -- prayer by one or more people on behalf of another.

Mayo Clinic researchers found that their study of intercessory prayer had no significant effect on patients’ medical outcomes after hospitalization in a coronary care unit.

The single-center, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial was conducted at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., between July 4, 1997 and Oct. 21, 1999, among 799 male and female patients aged 18 years or older, who were admitted to Saint Marys Hospital coronary care unit and were discharged with a cardiovascular diagnosis.

Although a number of published studies have assessed the effects of spiritual factors on health care outcomes -- 75 percent report a positive effect, 17 percent report no effect and 7 percent report a negative effect -- few have evaluated the effects of intercessory prayer on health outcomes.

"We sought to improve on the design of earlier studies of intercessory prayer through the application of standard experimental methods with the hope of obtaining scientific evidence to elucidate the potential role of intercessory prayer in medical care," said Stephen L. Kopecky, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist and the senior author of the study.

The patients were randomized into the intercessory prayer group and the control group. Intercessory prayer was administered at least once a week for 26 weeks by five intercessors per patient.

No significant differences were found between the intercessory prayer group and the control group. At 26 weeks, a primary end point, such as death, cardiac arrest, rehospitalization for cardiovascular disease, coronary revascularization or an emergency department visit for cardiovascular disease occurred in 25.6 percent of the prayer group and 29.3 percent of the control group. Among high-risk patients, the primary endpoint occurred in 31 percent of the prayer group and 33 percent of the control group. Among low-risk patients, the difference between the groups was 17 percent for the prayer group and 24 percent for the control group.

"In light of its widespread use in conjunction with illness, intercessory prayer deserves further exploration," says Dr. Kopecky. "It should be noted that, in part due to the study’s many limitations, this study did not measure the ‘power of God,’ nor should prayer offered for patients by loved ones, relatives and friends be interpreted not to play a potentially important role in the healing process."

In an article also published in this issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Clinic researchers reviewed published studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews and subject reviews that examined the association between religious involvement and spirituality and physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life and other health outcomes.

The authors report a majority of the nearly 350 studies of physical health and 850 studies of mental health that have used religious and spiritual variables have found that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes.

The Mayo Clinic researchers said most patients have a spiritual life and regard their spiritual health and physical health as equally important. People may have greater spiritual needs during illness and are looking to have those needs met.

A large and growing number of studies have shown a direct relationship between religious involvement and spirituality and positive health outcomes, including mortality, physical illnesses, mental illness, health-related quality of life and coping with illness. Studies also suggest that addressing the spiritual needs of patients may facilitate recovery from illness.

For the full press release, please see: Study, review and editorial focus on religion, spirituality and medicine

The Iona Institute reported in a paper entitled The psycho-social benefits of religious practice:
A meta-analysis of all studies, both published and unpublished, relating to religious involvement and longevity was carried out in 2000. Forty-two studies were included, involving some 126,000 subjects. Active religious involvement increased the chance of living longer by some 29%, and participation in public religious practices, such as church attendance, increased the chance of living longer by 43%.

In 2004, the American Journal of Psychiatry reported:
Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation. Unaffiliated subjects were younger, less often married, less often had children, and had less contact with family members. Furthermore, subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide. In terms of clinical characteristics, religiously unaffiliated subjects had more lifetime impulsivity, aggression, and past substance use disorder. No differences in the level of subjective and objective depression, hopelessness, or stressful life events were found.

Oxford Professor Alister McGrath, author of the book The Twilight of Atheism, wrote concerning the work of atheist Sigmund Freud:
One of the most important criticisms that Sigmund Freud directed against religion was that it encourages unhealthy and dysfunctional outlooks on life. Having dismissed religion as an illusion, Freud went on to argue that it is a negative factor in personal development. At times, Freud's influence has been such that the elimination of a person's religious beliefs has been seen as a precondition for mental health.

Freud is now a fallen idol, the fall having been all the heavier for its postponement. There is now growing awareness of the importance of spirituality in health care, both as a positive factor in relation to well-being and as an issue to which patients have a right. The "Spirituality and Healing in Medicine" conference sponsored by Harvard Medical School in 1998 brought reports that 86 percent of Americans as a whole, 99 percent of family physicians, and 94 percent of HMO professionals believe that prayer, meditation, and other spiritual and religious practices exercise a major positive role within the healing process.

Articles related to Darwinism and its quackery

Back problems: how Darwinism misled researchers

Do any vestigial structures exist in humans?

More musings on our ‘useless’ appendix

Is evolution really necessary for medical advances?

New England Journal of Medicine promotes anti-theism

Other helpful resources

Atheism, agnosticism and humanism: Godless religions

Refuting evolution

Question Evolution! Campaign

15 questions for evolutionists

Responses to the 15 Questions: part 1 - Questions 1-3

Responses to the 15 Questions: part 2 - Questions 4–8

Responses to the 15 Questions: part 2 - Questions 9-15

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