Friday, December 3, 2010

Living an Extra Seven Years - Conclusion

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5
What is the conclusion of the matter? Church is good for you. You know it’s good for your soul. But now you also know it’s good for your body. Without looking at other factors, people who don’t go to church have an 87% increased chance of dying every year compared to those who attend more than weekly. This works out to a 7 year increase in life expectancy. Even after adjusting for risk factors, a 50% reduction in risk remains. The presence of this effect has been confirmed by many studies on over a hundred thousand people.

What should you do? If you’re in church, stay there. If you’ve left church, go back! It’s good for you! If you’ve never been to church, give it a try! I’m sure your religious friends would love to take you. Christians believe that God has built us to be in spiritual community. Is it any surprise that we operate better when live as we were made to?

In 1964, a group of doctors came together to critically evaluate the risks of smoking. They published their report and it, "hit the country like a bombshell. It was front page news and a lead story on every radio and television station in the United States and many abroad." News of a common behavior, smoking, increasing mortality by 70% was the public health crisis of our grandparents’ generation. Thousands of lives were saved by this information. Now the mantle falls to us. Our generation will be the one to make public this knowledge about church, to save the lives of thousands alive today and those yet to be born. We look at old movies and snicker because everyone is smoking; our children will look at our movies and snicker at people sitting at home on Sundays.


  1. I think your conclusion that we ought to attend a Christian church if we wish to increase our lifespan is too hasty. Did the study establish that highly religious people tend to have longer life expectancies, or did it establish that people who go to church tend to have longer life expectancies, or did it establish that those who attend a Christian receive the worldly boons of a longer life? And if the study was confined to Christian churchgoers, it surely does not have a large enough sample size to secure the claim that only Christian church goers experience these benefits.

  2. Having carefully reread your writings, I've answered most of my own questions and find that what you suggest is reasonable. I think that if a doctor has a patient who is religious, then he/she should recommend that they devote themselves more intensely to whatever they practice if the presence of religious ritual in their life has noticeably diminished.
    It is unfortunate that the study is limited in its sample size to only Churchgoers as I strongly suspect that additional research would confirm those of other religions also experience these benefits.

  3. The evidence shows benefit strictly for frequent attendance of religious services in the US. Being representative surveys, this means that most of the data was on Christian services. In that sense, the study was 'confined' to the vast majority of religious practice in the US (i.e. Christian practice). We don't have specific evidence for or against mortality effects with Mosque or Temple or Synagogue (at least not disaggregated data that I know about). We do have specific evidence for mortality effects with church.

    If we have evidence that pill A works, and no specific evidence that pill B works, can't we recommend pill A while we build a case for pill B?

  4. The studies aren't limited to *only* churchgoers, but being done in America, it's *mostly* churchgoers. It includes those of other religions, but doesn't disaggregate them.

    I agree with you: it's probable that there is a beneficial effect of Mosque. If this study had been done in Iraq, we'd probably have good evidence for that. But it was done in the US. So we don't.