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Atheism and Mental and Physical Health

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In regards to atheism and mental and physical health, there is considerable amount of scientific evidence that suggest that theism is more conducive to mental and physical health than atheism.[1][2] The prestigious Mayo Clinic reported the following on December 11, 2001:

In an article also published in this issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Clinic researchers reviewed published studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews and subject reviews that examined the association between religious involvement and spirituality and physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life and other health outcomes.

The authors report a majority of the nearly 350 studies of physical health and 850 studies of mental health that have used religious and spiritual variables have found that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes.[3]

In regards to data that relates to mental health and atheism, in December of 2003, the University of Warwick reported the following:

Dr. Stephen Joseph, from the University of Warwick, said: "Religious people seem to have a greater purpose in life, which is why they are happier. Looking at the research evidence, it seems that those who celebrate the Christian meaning of Christmas are on the whole likely to be happier.[4]

Duke University has established the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.[5] The Duke University Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health is based in the Center for Aging at Duke and gives opportunities for scholarly trans-disciplinary conversation and the development of collaborative research projects.[6] In regards to the atheism and mental and physical health, the center offers many studies which suggest that theism is more beneficial than atheism.[7]

The Christian group Teen Challenge reported the following:

Teen Challenge claims of a 70% cure rate for the drug addicts graduating from their program attracted the attention of the U.S. Federal Government in 1973. Most secular drug rehabilitation programs only experienced a cure rate of 1-15% of their graduates. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, funded the first year of this study to evaluate the long term results of the Teen Challenge program.[8]

Teen Challenge has a number of studies that indicate the high effectiveness of their drug treatment program compared to other programs.[9]

Currently, there is an ongoing debate regarding whether atheism was a causal factor for Friedrich Nietzsche's insanity or whether it was caused strictly by disease.[10][11][12][13][14] An article published on the Hong Kong Baptist University website offers the following regarding the cause of Friedrich Nietzsche's insanity:

Trying to explain what caused his insanity can only be a matter of speculation. Some people believe it was the result of a physical illness. Others interpret his suffering as that of a true prophet, almost as if he were accepting the punishment on behalf of those who could not see mankind's tendency towards self-destruction so clearly. Still others regard his final fate as a natural outcome of his philosophical outlook.[15]

The Russian-born psychoanalyst and writer Lou Andreas-Salomé, who had a brief and tempestuous affair with Nietzsche, believed that Nietzsche's philosophy can be viewed as a reflection of his psychology and that his madness was the result of his philosophizing.[16] In addition, the French historian René Girard asserted that Nietzsche's philosophy led to his insanity.[17]

Atheism and Suicide

There are studies which indicate that atheism is a causal factor for suicides.

Sigmund Freud's View of Religion Discredited

Psychologist Sigmund Freud was a proponent of atheism who argued that theism was detrimental to mental health.[18] Oxford Professor Alister McGrath, author of the book The Twilight of Atheism, stated the following regarding Freud:

One of the most important criticisms that Sigmund Freud directed against religion was that it encourages unhealthy and dysfunctional outlooks on life. Having dismissed religion as an illusion, Freud went on to argue that it is a negative factor in personal development. At times, Freud's influence has been such that the elimination of a person's religious beliefs has been seen as a precondition for mental health.

Freud is now a fallen idol, the fall having been all the heavier for its postponement. There is now growing awareness of the importance of spirituality in health care, both as a positive factor in relation to well-being and as an issue to which patients have a right. The "Spirituality and Healing in Medicine" conference sponsored by Harvard Medical School in 1998 brought reports that 86 percent of Americans as a whole, 99 percent of family physicians, and 94 percent of HMO professionals believe that prayer, meditation, and other spiritual and religious practices exercise a major positive role within the healing process.[19]


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