Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Christianity and Health... By Gregory de Roo

 In recent years, attempts to purge this great nation of its Christian heritage have become increasingly popular.  We are frantically removing all things Judeo-Christian from our public buildings, Prayer has been band from schools, in Santa Monica California the local authorities were forced to remove all Christian displays from the public areas, and some have even suggested taking the unique and most beloved declaration “In God We Trust” off our currency.  Despite these “progressions”, have we as a community benefited? There is an overwhelming amount of data to suggest that we have not, so much so that I am not evening going to explore or unpack any of it. In light of our antichristian efforts in the public arena, should we now consider pursuing the same unsuccessful agenda within our healthcare system? The data would suggest otherwise!

In the article http://www.cmf.org.uk/publications/content.asp?context=article&id=25627, the health benefits of Christianity are clearly explained. Research shows that people who regularly attend church and have faith live longer than those who don’t allowing the average white person to gain 7 years of life and the African Americans a whopping 14. The overall improvement in health associated with Christianity has been very consistent with my own personal experience. I have been faced with three major family medical crises over the past few years and they all played out according to the statistical findings mentioned in the CMF article. The first instance involved my father (a nonbeliever), the second involved the premature birth of my daughter (all Christians), and the third involved my Mother (also a Christian). As these awful events played out, I got to witness first hand the benefits of faith-filled life. For years, my father struggled with his illness as he couldn’t accept the relatively mild long-term consequences of having his colon removed. He finally submitted after months in Van Der Bildt hospital and multiple near death experiences. To this day he still has feelings of bitterness and anger. The second instance and one extremely dear to my heart involves the birth of my daughter. Last year on August 3rd, my wife gave birth to our two and a half month premature daughter after going into labor 5 weeks earlier at the 24 week mark (frontier of fetal survival). We had thousands of people all over the world Praying for the health and safety of our daughter with us. My wife was in the high-risk maternity ward for the 5 weeks preceding my daughter’s birth and during that time we became friends with the many couples in similar situations. As we discussed our personal situations and how we were coping, it became apparent to me that faith plays an enormous role in our mental as well as our physical wellbeing.  The final instance mentioned above involves my mother who a few weeks ago was diagnosed with stage 4 invasive lobular breast cancer. Despite the gloomy reality, we have decided to walk this walk in faith and have been able to find peace in very disturbing and troubling times.

As human beings, faith has (or should have) a pivotal role in our personal, professional, and public lives.  The benefits of faith clearly and thoroughly out way the perceived negatives and frequently results in both improved as well as longer lives.

As we say in South Africa; UNkulunkulu anganibusisa nonke, God seen jou almal, God bless you all!


  1. I think most atheists are content to live and let live, with regard to religionists of all stripes (including Christians) who reciprocate and do not aggressively proselytize. The problem is with those whose zealotry overreaches in a hostile and unpleasant manner- a phenomenon we're not unfamiliar with on our campus, unfortunately, and especially in our region. (Thinking specifically here of the fire-and-brimstone fanatics who are granted a speaker's platform in front of our Student Center so that they may harangue students with the threat of eternal damnation.)

    But that said: I don't doubt that faith of all kinds (including religious faith) is a boon to those struggling with life-threatening illness. Empirical studies have had mixed results. One in particular found intercessory prayer to be of no measurable use at all. But never mind. Those who do find strength in belief, and manage to do so without impugning the character or dignity of those who do not share their particular faith, pose no threat and deserve no censure.

    But as to the actual lineage of this "Christian nation": I urge you to look into the actual history of the nation's freethinking founders, for whom freedom of religion also entailed freedom FROM, for those who chose to exercise it. Look at Matthew Stewart's book "Nature's God" for more on this topic.

    Your anecdotal account of the comparatively frantic behavior of non-believing patients, Gregory, should be balanced against the non-frantic example of so many atheists, agnostics, and humanists through the ages who've met their mortality without supernatural consolation and WITH a surplus of dignity and composure. There have always been atheists in foxholes, and in cancer wards.

    But again: I begrudge the faith of no one who respects the TOTAL religious freedom of others.

    One last suggestion: check out Daniel Dennett's wonderful little essay "Thank Goodness": http://edge.org/3rd_culture/dennett06/dennett06_index.html

    video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Hlbg4-YNfI

    1. Thank you for the suggested links. I will certainly check them out. I certainly try very hard to not force my opinions on anyone. I also never want anyone to feel lesser around me for having an alternative or no religion. It is sad what has become of "Christianity". What started out (in my opinion) as a truthful, beautiful, and extremely helpful message/way of life, has become tainted and outright ugly in many situations. The real tragedy is that so many wonderful people who would thrive and benefit under Christianity have turned away from, or never even approached Christianity. Christianity was intended to be a truly amazing undertaking (and still is) if respectfully and mindfully embarked upon.

      I have spoken with so many atheists, agnostics, and otherwise "ungodly" people, and after doing so there is always something missing in the logic. I guess my mind, like yours, simply works in a certain way and I personally just can't seem to make sense of a nonreligious world. I often feel that impugns the way we all view circumstances, events, and even data.

      The crux of God vs No God for me boils down to the capacity (or lack thereof) to believe in something more than known facts. I could not live in a world in which I could not believe as well as know. I am a scientific thinker and find that the capacity to believe in things I cannot see or do not know about yet to be a valuable tool. I used to get annoyed with the Christians who continuously and all too often ignorantly take on science and try to prove that all the facts that have been accumulated are not real! Some Christians have faults enough, as do some atheists and anyone for that matter. I do not think that Christianity should be judged by its followers any more than what atheism should be judged by its followers. Christianity is simply a life comprised of living (as best you can) according to the Judeo-Christian principles as defined, fulfilled, and codified, by Jesus Christ, nothing more or less! Being judgmental, condescending, narrow-minded, aggressive, or any other emotion so often unjustly assigned to Christianity is a misrepresentation of the truth of life as well as Christianity.
      PS: You cant blame the tree when the fruit gets eaten by the worms :-)

  2. P.S. Legions of gracious, godless, nontheistic philosophers, humanists, freethinkers, and skeptics have faced their mortality squarely and with equanimity, not in a state of frantic desperation. David Hume, Bertrand Russell, the Stoics, the Epicureans... and Christopher Hitchens. His book "Mortality" is a remarkable document, and an inspiring read for theists (like his friend Francis Collins) and atheists alike.

    How Should Rationalists Approach Death? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/11/15/how-should-rationalists-approach-death/