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  #1  
Old 04-11-2007, 08:36 PM
scm1001 scm1001 is offline
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Do christians live longer?

I am not looking for a debate (yet). But having a discussion about the power of prayer with a friend made me wonder if christians live longer than athiests (or hiindus or moslems for that matter), once other factors have been accounted for. This would be some evidence for (christian) spiritual healing if it existed.
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  #2  
Old 04-11-2007, 08:43 PM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scm1001
I am not looking for a debate (yet). But having a discussion about the power of prayer with a friend made me wonder if christians live longer than athiests (or hiindus or moslems for that matter), once other factors have been accounted for. This would be some evidence for (christian) spiritual healing if it existed.
They live eternally, so hard to beat that.

Not much data on prayer although there have been some equivocal studies.

Nuttin' on spiritual healing. I am reasonably close to that crowd and they are uninterested in close inspection of any kind.
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  #3  
Old 04-11-2007, 08:48 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scm1001
I am not looking for a debate (yet). But having a discussion about the power of prayer with a friend made me wonder if christians live longer than athiests (or hiindus or moslems for that matter), once other factors have been accounted for. This would be some evidence for (christian) spiritual healing if it existed.
No it wouldn't at all. There are many confounding factors. The big one is that married people are known to live longer so, if you found that fundamentalist Christian people lived longer than those that aren't, it could be due to the lifestyle and choices they lead (I am assuming a correlation there myself but it doesn't matter because there are a number of confounding factors that could lead to longer life other than the spiritual: or maybe the belief does have an effect: you have to test for that exclusively).

You are looking for a correlation leading to a causation and it usually can't be done and, when it can, it may not mean what you think it means. You indicated that you wanted other factors controlled for and that isn't really possible.
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  #4  
Old 04-11-2007, 08:53 PM
glee glee is offline
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I expect Christians in poorer countries live shorter lives than wealthy atheists.

This would of course show that God loves the secular rich.
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  #5  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:05 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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You would have to find a way to control for economic and geographical disparities and then you'd still have a host of other variables, including genetic factors. I doubt it's testable, but I can't conceive of any reason why specific religious belief should make any difference. Faith in general, maybe, inasmuch as it may have a tempering affect on lifestyle choices or reduce stress.
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  #6  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:19 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scm1001
This would be some evidence for (christian) spiritual healing if it existed.
Quote:
Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.

And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.
Source: NY Times - 31 March 2007
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  #7  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:22 PM
the PC apeman the PC apeman is offline
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Sam Harris made some related observations:
Countries like Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on Earth. According to the United Nations' Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by measures of life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate and infant mortality. Conversely, the 50 nations now ranked lowest in terms of human development are unwaveringly religious. Other analyses paint the same picture: The United States is unique among wealthy democracies in its level of religious literalism and opposition to evolutionary theory; it is also uniquely beleaguered by high rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, STD infection and infant mortality. The same comparison holds true within the United States itself: Southern and Midwestern states, characterized by the highest levels of religious superstition and hostility to evolutionary theory, are especially plagued by the above indicators of societal dysfunction, while the comparatively secular states of the Northeast conform to European norms. Of course, correlational data of this sort do not resolve questions of causality--belief in God may lead to societal dysfunction; societal dysfunction may foster a belief in God; each factor may enable the other; or both may spring from some deeper source of mischief. Leaving aside the issue of cause and effect, these facts prove that atheism is perfectly compatible with the basic aspirations of a civil society; they also prove, conclusively, that religious faith does nothing to ensure a society's health.
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  #8  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:23 PM
Quiddity Glomfuster Quiddity Glomfuster is offline
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Yep. People who attend church do live longer .
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  #9  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:28 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiddity Glomfuster
Yep. People who attend church do live longer .
That study is pretty much worthless. It doesn't seem to have any controls on it at all. It ceratinly doesn't prove any correlation.
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  #10  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:31 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Going from this page at the Wikipedia, you can see that Sweden and Japan both have longer average life expectancies than the US. Both of these countries are majority athiestic/agnostic (while as the US is majority Christian.)

Of course, both of these countries have universal health care, and minimal crime. You can choose which is the most probable causal factor for yourself.
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  #11  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:32 PM
Quiddity Glomfuster Quiddity Glomfuster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic
That study is pretty much worthless. It doesn't seem to have any controls on it at all. It ceratinly doesn't prove any correlation.
There were three studies there; one a meta-study.
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  #12  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:35 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiddity Glomfuster
There were three studies there; one a meta-study.
All worthless without the proper controls.
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  #13  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:42 PM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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No, it just seems that way because you have to listen to so much of their self righteous yammering.
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  #14  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:44 PM
BrandonR BrandonR is offline
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Well if happily married people live longer, it would appear atheists have Christians beat...

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm
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  #15  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:48 PM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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Do Christians live longer? No, it just feels that way.
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  #16  
Old 04-11-2007, 10:04 PM
panache45 panache45 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanBlather
Do Christians live longer? No, it just feels that way.
At least to the rest of us.
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  #17  
Old 04-11-2007, 11:22 PM
scm1001 scm1001 is offline
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Interesting studies thanks. I guess there is evidence on both sides. The fact that church going blacks (in one of the studies) live 10 years longer is not too surprising sg given the large amount of crime/drugs/alcohol that would be less in a church going community (possibly blatant racial stereotyping sorry)
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  #18  
Old 04-11-2007, 11:32 PM
Sophistry and Illusion Sophistry and Illusion is offline
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People with strong social networks tend to live longer, too, so churchgoers might be benefiting from this effect.
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  #19  
Old 04-12-2007, 03:53 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanBlather
Do Christians live longer? No, it just feels that way.
Saw the question, scrolled down the replies, no, no one's said it yet, nearly at the bottom ........ Damn! Beaten again to the perfect answer!
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  #20  
Old 04-12-2007, 04:37 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat
Going from this page at the Wikipedia, you can see that Sweden and Japan both have longer average life expectancies than the US. Both of these countries are majority athiestic/agnostic (while as the US is majority Christian.)

Of course, both of these countries have universal health care, and minimal crime. You can choose which is the most probable causal factor for yourself.
Comparing countries with homogeneous populations (cultural or genetic) to heterogeneous ones is fraught with difficulty.
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  #21  
Old 04-12-2007, 06:25 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by A.R. Cane
No, it just seems that way because you have to listen to so much of their self righteous yammering.
Amen to that

I presume the OP realises that the majority of Muslims pray several times a day, i.e. a lot more frequently than most Christians. Or does that not count, because they're doing it wrong?
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  #22  
Old 04-12-2007, 06:40 AM
coffeecat coffeecat is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckster
Quote:
Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.

And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications
Source: NY Times - 31 March 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by God
Stop noodging me!
__
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  #23  
Old 04-12-2007, 11:01 AM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scm1001
Interesting studies thanks. I guess there is evidence on both sides. The fact that church going blacks (in one of the studies) live 10 years longer is not too surprising sg given the large amount of crime/drugs/alcohol that would be less in a church going community (possibly blatant racial stereotyping sorry)
I'm not sure how much more drug use there is among whites than blacks and latinos, but whites definitley attend church less often
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  #24  
Old 04-12-2007, 11:18 AM
TimeWinder TimeWinder is offline
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I can't cite (which I hate), so take this as probably apocryphal. When I was in college, a lecture in a religious studies class I took mentioned a study that showed that in the US:

- religious folks lived longer than non-religious ones, by a statistically significant but small margin

- That margin was almost entirely explained by Muslims and Mormans, both groups with generally healthy lifestyle requirements.

- Remove the Muslims and Mormans, and religious folks live slightly less long than non-religious ones, by an even smaller margin (don't remember significance).

- That margin is explained entirely by Christian Scientists and various cult religions that don't believe in using modern medicine at all, and Jehovah's Witnesses, who won't accept blood transfusions.

- Take those out, correct for mostly economic factors, and the effects all disappear.

If anyone can actually find a cite for this, or even a hint as to whether it's real or crackpot, I'd love to have it.
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  #25  
Old 04-12-2007, 11:40 AM
zyzzyva zyzzyva is offline
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But, if you're a Christian and you die, you go to Heaven (or at least you believe you do). As Heaven is a glorious place infinitely better than life on Earth, why would you want to prolong that trip?
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  #26  
Old 04-12-2007, 01:43 PM
lexi lexi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scm1001
Interesting studies thanks. I guess there is evidence on both sides. The fact that church going blacks (in one of the studies) live 10 years longer is not too surprising sg given the large amount of crime/drugs/alcohol that would be less in a church going community (possibly blatant racial stereotyping sorry)
Lifestyle choices and economic stability seem to be the biggest indicators in long life.

Not taking into account poverty and lack of social programs, if dangerous behavior was actually tied to how religious people were, this could be possible, but there doesn't seem to be a correlation between "good" lifestyle choices and Christianity.

cite

On a personal level, I think many of us has met a church going religious person (who may even try witnessing to you) who's choices in life not match their faith, as if they almost consider their faith to be a "Get out of Jail/Hell free card".

I think if unbiased studies were done, it would be found there is no difference between the lifespans of anyone regardless of faith or lack thereof.
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  #27  
Old 04-12-2007, 02:04 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiddity Glomfuster
Yep. People who attend church do live longer .
Were the studies limited to christians though? Perhaps it would be that anybody attending church lives longer (muslims, jews - I personally am an atheist that goes every Sunday to a Unitarian Church) - not just christians.
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