Originally Posted by miller-time
did i ever say it doesn't exist? my entire point is that there are confounding variables. there might be a correlation between religiosity and health (mental and/or physical) however that doesn't mean that religious beliefs are the direct cause of better health. there are two other factors that have to be considered. one is a persons social environment and the other is psychological mechanisms.
for example, when a man marries a woman generally the mans health goes up while the woman's goes down. if we were to simply look at marriage and male health we might conclude that marriage has health benefits for males. when in reality it is because they are being taken care of by the female at the expense of her own health. these types of relationships can be made in a large number of different situations. it might not be religion directly that is causing health benefits but rather various other social dynamics (like a sense of belonging to a group at the expense of social interaction with people that identify with another group).
at an individual level psychologically there are benefits of religious belief too. however (and we've been through this before i know) if religious practice is a means to an end, then why not try and understand the underlying mechanisms of which religious belief is acting upon and go after them directly? religion might not be helpful for everyone, just like pharmaceutical or psychological approaches might not be helpful for everyone either. but if we can figure out what aspects of religious belief are beneficial (both at the neurological level and the psychological level) we might be able help people more directly. religious belief does have possible draw backs such as social division and fundamentalism. if we can strip away those aspects and create an approach that acts on the same targets as religion then we could fix people without selling them hogwash.
Once again I will point out the it is being used by doctors to treat people OUTSIDE OF THEIR ENVIRONMENT...rich poor black white big small male female young old etc etc...if you are a human being of any type, and you are suffering from deep depression or mental illness, it could be treated with "faith" and studies have shown it helps.
And the root of it is the placebo effect...they believe their life has meaning now, that they have a spirit that will continue on after their body here dies, etc etc...this new found happiness changes neural pathways and effects chemicals in the brain in a positive way, the same way the exercise does...its just healthy positive thinking compared to the negative feelings of not existing any more, or not believing your life means anything at all.