A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Does Faith Make You Healthier,” explores possible meanings behind multiple findings by social scientists that people who hold religious beliefs reap many health benefits. The article points out that the social scientists who study this topic are measuring the results of religious beliefs in non-religious terms. That many of the scientists who study this are non-believers is pointed to as ironic. “In the social-scientific version, it’s not the afterlife that faith is good for, but well-being in this life,” author Ari Schulman states in the article. Is it wrong to pursue a religious practice because it promises to bring you inner peace or prosperity while here on Earth? Many evangelical leaders of today, such as Joel Osteen, preach about prosperity and happiness and how to attain it through faith and religious practices. It’s possible that one is initially drawn to a belief system because of what it promises to deliver, and then during the process becomes a believer in the full sense. These studies are likely based on individuals whose true faith is not based on what they are getting in return, thus, making it difficult to replicate the results in folks who are only interested in how religion can be of benefit to them.
Upon reading the article, I was reminded a conversation I had once with a friend about a company’s donation to a charity. My opinion at the time was that it was different if a company made a donation to the charity because of an intention to support the charity’s mission rather than donating to the cause solely to improve its own reputation. My friend disagreed stating that it didn’t matter, because either way the charity received the money. C.S. Lewis seemed to agree with me and not my friend as he is quoted in the article as writing, “Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop.”
Click here to read the article.