« We don't know, so live now | Main | We humans are animals. But most of us deny this fact. »

December 27, 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The fact that active involvement in organized religion can add years to your life and improve your health is a scientific finding.

"Literally thousands of studies have now investigated the relationship between religion and well-being. Lucky for us, in 2015, Duke University professor of psychiatry Harold Koenig and his research team carefully reviewed more than 3,000 studies published prior to that time. A total of 79 percent of relevant studies showed a link between religion/spirituality and psychological well-being. A majority also demonstrated a relationship with physical well-being. In fact, one of the most widely celebrated findings is that religion and spiritualty are related to longer life. About 68 percent of published studies on that topic have found a link. In one study, researchers followed 8,450 people between the ages of 40 and 90+ for more than 8 years, noting those who passed away of any cause. The results revealed an 18 percent reduction in the risk of dying during this period for people who attended church services once per week, and a 30 percent reduction for those attending more than once per week—numbers approaching the power of regular moderate physical exercise."


What are the mechanisms at work? Different views are currently being studied. But regular attendance at religious services does appear to include at least three elements : social support; encouragement to maintain good health practices such as diet and exercise; and abstainance from deleterious behaviors and substances.

It is the system of belief in some greater power that appears to be a vital dynamic common in these different religions, the behavioral changes that active practice may elicit, and the healthy outcomes of those practices.

Just as with gravity, we do not understand all the dynamics. So it is understandable someone might label such outcomes miraculous, which would only be an understandable, appropriate and parsimonious explanation, in the context of acknowledging a very positive and reliable scientific outcome where the actual mechanisms at work are largely unknown.

Anyone interested in facts and truth must be willing to acknowledge even the ones that do not support a favorite opinion.

And anyone interested in a longer life of better health might well consider active involvement in a religion compatible with their personal sentiments.

I think the word 'miracle' can be given a scientific definition that more accurately explains its common use.

A 'miracle' is any event interpreted as positive and helpful for which the casual mechanics are unknown.

A similar corrolate for the term 'God' can also be created, free of mythology, which reflects the functional use of the term.

'God' is the attributed cause behind a 'miracle', see above, when knowledge of the actual casual dynamics are unknown, or the attributed cause of those dynamics when they are unknown.

In this definition 'God' is simply the attribution we give to the reality we live in according to our limited understanding. Or more accurately, 'Miracles' and 'God' are the casual attributions made to the parts of reality that are unknown.

The term 'supernatural' can also be understood in its practical use, free of mythology, as an event that cannot yet be proven to be the result of known mechanics.

Because all three terms, 'miracle', 'god', and 'supernatural' are used to describe what is not actually known, they have generally gathered a variety of mythological explanations that can readily be taken as beloved mythology.

Science has demonstrated, as it gradually proceeds ahead, that the unknown exists. As our methods develop, the unknown is brought in, gradually, piece by piece, into the realm of known proven scientific facts.

Therefore attributions of miracles, God and supernatural are actually legitimate placeholders for what is unknown, taken as such, until science has developed the means for study.

To claim that what science hasn't studied doesn't exist is false. What science has uncovered was once unknown. And all that science will discover currently is unknown.

Here is where the use of these terms, striped of mythology, actually serves a purpose.

Scientific facts originally begin with belief – or faith. Not that science calls them that, rather using the term hypothesis instead; (Hypotheses – an assumption, an idea). Where a hypothesis is found to be factual through repeated testing then it becomes an acceptable theory and where the evidence is sound, it becomes an acceptable fact. Also, what is reassuring with theories is that (unlike religious teachings) a theory can be developed as new facts emerge.

Spencer mentions: - “The fact that active involvement in organized religion can add years to your life and improve your health is a scientific finding.” Yes, probably true, but there are many factors to health and well-being.

The NHS in the UK advises people to: -
Connect with people - neighbourhood social cohesion;
Be physically active;
Learn new skills;
Give to others – volunteering;
And interestingly, pay attention to the present moment – mindfulness.

Also interestingly, the European Social Survey 2006-2012 for 21 countries and surveying 40000 people each year state that Denmark has a high rating in happiness and well-being and where only 17% are religious, Similar findings to much of western Europe. Portugal rates low in happiness and is one of the more religious – similar to Eastern Europeans with a high religious population.

@ Brian [ Science progresses because recognizing when you're wrong is a big part of the scientific method. This allows false facts to be discarded and genuine facts to be embraced. ]

Mystics also progress and discard falsity. Arguably a mystic,
with hyper mindfulness of his own thought patterns, is even
more adept at identifying errant, unreasonable beliefs and
discarding them.

Coupling the Q-Anon believer with the guru devotee who says
"The plain truth is that my guru is God in human form." falsely
conflates the two at least in the case of a mystic path. A mystic
would be far more likely to explain: "I believe my guru has real-
ized his essence is God and I'm following the same mindfulness
practice to achieve this realization." The emphasis is on god
within all and a practice to realize this belief. Tacit in this is also
an acknowledgement that some may not find facts to support
that belief.

This is however not at all comparable to a blatant completely
dis-proven conspiracy theory such as Q-Anon. One supports
fact finding to confirm a belief and expose truth while the other

It is a fact Christian jokers live in unconscious mind, they write books in unconscious mind.

The pandemic? Facts? Everything our experts told us about the pandemic and how to deal with it has been wrong.

When I say experts, of course I mean only those scientists who were approved by the chief of all scientists and covid experts, none other that the greatest scientist in the world -- nay, the man who says he speaks for science itself -- Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Just count how many times Fauci has been wrong. And yet, people still somehow have faith that whatever Fauci stays today can be utterly trusted as a fact. These people aren't dealing in facts at all, they're dealing with faith in an authority figure.

By the way, remember the AIDS crisis of the 1990s? Dr. Fauci was in charge of our response to that, and claimed to have solid scientific evidence that HIV could be contracted through heterosexual sex, and therefore everyone in America needed to be very, very afraid.

Dr. Fauci also claimed for a long time -- again invoking facts from "science" -- that HIV could be spread through a kiss.

So I would say to be careful when claiming to value facts over belief. Especially when you buy everything a suspect epidemiological "expert" tells you, one who has been wrong dozens of times. You may be looking at him as a guru.

"Vaginal sex is one of the primary ways a person can become infected with HIV. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, it accounts for about 6,300 new infections among women each year in the U.S. and about 2,800 new infections among heterosexual men.
"Globally, the figures are even more dismaying. While the sexual transmission of HIV in the U.S. is highest among gay and bisexual men (representing about 26,000 of all new infections per year), heterosexuals are by far the group most affected worldwide.
"This is especially true in Africa where most new infections are among heterosexuals. In these populations, vaginal sex is the predominant route of infection."


I recently became a member of Bart Ehrman's blog. Prof. Ehrman is probably the most famous author of books that critique Christian scripture. I learned a great deal about the field of academic study of scripture from Ehrman's books.

Besides being a foremost scholar of religion, Prof. Erhman is also an atheist, and he also meditates (triple irony?) I thought others here might be interested in what the prof says about his meditation practice, one that strikes me as similar to vipassana and yet unique:


Do you meditate? If so, which techniques do you use? Do you find it helpful?


Yes indeed, I do meditate. Every New Years I make it a resolution to meditate each and every day. This year I’m doing pretty well *except* when I’m traveling (which, unfortunately, is a lot this semester); that’s probably when I need most to meditate and I just have real trouble scheduling it in. Not good.

I find meditation to be terrifically calming and centering. I think it has the same psychological and emotional effect that sustained prayer has, since it involves a similar mental focus. My meditation practice, if I were to summarize it, all involves body-awareness. I have numerous techniques that I use, all of which I have simply come up with myself (for good or ill), that involve recognition of my bodily existence – either sensing parts of my body (either doing a full-body scan or focusing on an area, e.g. the head and brain), or consciously recognizing my bodily activities and systems, especially respiratory (thinking of my breathing and all its stages) and cardio-vascular (being aware of my heart-beat, and tracing it from the top of my head to the tip of my toes and everywhere in between); or focusing on my bodily senses (all five of them, in turn); and … well other things. Typically I meditate for 15-20 minutes, and most effectively I do so right after a work out.

I have found this practice not just relaxing but, as I said, centering. It reminds me of what is most important to me and helps keep me focused on the things that matter in my brief mortal existence. I highly recommend it!

In Spirituality we don't need to have all the answers. We can just empty ourselves and receive. The receiving automatically happens. That is our truth.

We simply need to remain positive. Keep the cup clean.

In the world, we must work hard to obtain what we want, even facts, even the truth.
But in Spirituality, reality is already the truth, it already is, and we can experience that fully by emptying the cup normally filled with our daily thinking.

In worldly matters we toil to get to something, and then we must defend that place.

In spiritual matters, we only need to stop doing, to just be empty and let nature fill us as she is doing 24x7.

Thanks Brian. Every mind/ego appreciates facts and builds a justifiable base for one's beliefs from those very facts. Ex: The flame on the burner is on. I better not touch anything close to it. I have a past experience of burning my skin and the pain involved, thus I refrain from repeating that action.

Sounds simple but it is not. The whole organism "believes" in a "fact" that fire can produce acute pain on the skin. One who has no experience with searing flames has no formation of said belief. Hopefully, that belief will come in time with repeated experiences of being burned. There will be an automatic repulsion towards touching flames.

So, our beliefs are based on past experiences, at least those that revolve around mundane material existence and physical survival. Spirituality is a different matter due to its abstruse nature and subtleties. That is why empirical science is, for the most part, separate from the esoteric side of life. But I contend that experimentation - trial and error/trial and success - are just as active within the subtler parts of our discrimination and discernment. Seekers of truth and spirituality cannot be denied that they are desiring a "different" type of experience, going beyond normal sensation and thought.

Even blind faith is justified to the believer. A plethora of experiences to the devout religionist would be forthcoming from that person to support their "blind faith". To them, their faith and beliefs have a definite support from their subjective experiences in life. Prayer, meditation, contemplation and internal transport to higher states of consciousness are very, very real to the practitioners.

An atheist may fight for his/her position, as well. Brian is a perfect example of that state of mind. No problem because we all "believe what we wish to believe". Also, changes are to be expected as an individual goes through years of living. The difference in beliefs around the world and with every individual makes for a spicy stew...perhaps even too much spice.

I agree in more ways with you.
The problem with Fauci and everything connected.
The vaccins are ..dangerous

Also about the guru who found God..so can we...!.instead of adoring Guru as being God.
Find the Light and sound in one’s ownself

Pandemic of anti-reason and anti-science.

HINT: The so-called guru of the sant-mat tradition, Rajinder Singh openly promotes experimental formulations for mass vaccinations against covid-19!


Usually scam artists support scam science.
It is called Science of Spirituality by the way. A joke. An oxymoron.

Really Sir, when experimental drugs are criminally marketed as drugs and heavily forced upon all people, and you, the well-educated,don't get an idea of what is happening out there, then we have a global crisis inside and outside. Of historical dimensions.

You study philosophy and you cannot distinguish between basic bio-medical terms? Fine.
Spend some time to study the basics. Even a 3rd year medical student can read and understand that this is anti-Science.

Sorry. You have been turned into a guinea pig.

I am sorry for "humanity".

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.