December 26, 2014

Another Study Confirms That Religious People Experience Greater Happiness - But Reviews Falter

A freshly-published study on happiness highlights a greater degree of happiness for religious people. What I find notable is that two of the most popular summaries published on the Internet focus on the significance and benefits of meeting with others once a week, but neither summary posits the possibility that tangible joy and happiness could be heightened through a tangible experience of God's presence within the context of community among fellow believers. Psalms 22.3 states, "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." (KJV). Psalms 16.11 states, "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (NIV).
Religions that do not advocate a tangible presence of God would not offer that quality as a context for happiness. However, an objective reviewer of this study could have taken a minute to research and note that in the U.S., where the study was performed, evangelical Protestants still make up a majority, 51.3 percent of the religious population, as noted at Pew Research. Even so, Catholics, Orthodox and even Jews could also experience God's presence in worship services in accordance with Protestant understandings of scripture and theology. In accordance with Einstein's 1954 essay, "Science and religion" - science is basically "blind" when the implications of religion are not fairly assessed employing true critical thinking and true objectivity.

I had posted a description of a previous studies on happiness, Gallup Polls Highlight Happiness, Health and Logic in Spirituality, based on 2010 studies. And I've posted two of the popular Internet reviews of this present study in full in order to outline the apparent lack of critical thinking on the part of the study reviewers.

The Breitbart news website offers the following summary:

A strong correlation exists between religiosity and personal happiness, according to a new study by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture.
The study found that people who attend religious services on a weekly basis are nearly twice as likely to describe themselves as “very happy” (45%) than people who never attend (28%). Conversely, those who never worship are twice as likely to say they are “very unhappy” (4%) as those who attend services weekly (2%).

Building on prior research, this broad survey of American adults comprised a representative sample of 15,738 Americans between the ages of 18 and 60.

The study indicated that not only religious service attendance, but self-reported “religiosity” and religious “affiliation” are also linked with happiness levels. Yet of the three indicators, service attendance has the highest correlation to increased happiness. The study showed that higher levels of church attendance “predict higher life satisfaction,” even after accounting for how important religious faith is in people’s lives.

The correlation between religiosity and happiness is clear, but explanations of the connection and possible causal relationship are less clear. One theory suggests that the social support that religious communities can provide may be a key factor contributing to increased happiness, since “religious Americans are more apt to be involved in their communities.” Yet even here, the study found “that those who attend religious services often are happier than their peers with similar levels of involvement in the community.”

These statistics tying happiness to religiosity have held true over time. A similar survey conducted ten years ago generated similar results, leading to the same conclusions. When the General Social Survey asked a sample of Americans in 2004, “Would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?” religious people were more than twice as likely as the non-religious to say they were “very happy” (43%-21%). The secular people, or those who never attend worship services, were overwhelmingly more likely to say they were not too happy (21%-8%).

One could almost predict that many of those celebrating Christmas will be merry, those observing Hanukkah will be happy, but those only recognizing the “holidays” will have a little less cause for rejoicing."

The following is the Relationshipsps in America study summary in full:

The link between religion and various psychological states has been the subject of many social scientific studies, many of which have found a connection between self-reported happiness and religious practices.16 Research has suggested that religious faith may be adept in its ability to offer significance and meaning to life, that religious coping mechanisms can improve physical and emotional health, that faith can be a powerful motivating force, and that congregants may receive emotional support from others in their congregations.17
Figure 4.1Self-reported happiness, by religious service attendance
We explored the link between religious service attendance, self-reported religiosity, and affiliation with happiness. Similar to past studies, we find that all of these measures are to varying degrees associated with increased reported levels of happiness.

One of the most plausible theories as to why religion and happiness are connected has to do with the social support that religious communities can provide. Such a network of friends and fellow congregants, sharing common purposes and motivations, is a key way in which happiness is associated with being religious.

The Relationships in America survey results suggest there may be something to this theory. In regression analyses (not shown) that account for other possible explanations18, we find that while all three measures of religion are positively associated with general life satisfaction, frequency of attendance at religious services has a stronger effect on overall happiness than either belonging to an organized religion or self-reported personal religiosity. Greater levels of church attendance predict higher life satisfaction even when we account for how important religious faith is in people’s lives. This result offers tentative evidence that actual integration into a religious support network through attendance at religious services may in part be responsible for the increased happiness observed among religious people.

We also explored whether the religion-happiness connection comes about because religious Americans are more apt to be involved in their communities.19 But even here we still find that those who attend religious services often are happier than their peers with similar levels of involvement in the community. It's possible that there are certain intangibles—things difficult to measure and account for—that are associated with higher levels of religious commitment. Such things may promote greater happiness via offering a more stable sense of purpose, or an assurance of a benevolent higher power directing the events of their lives.

We’re hardly the first to report this. Several other studies have found that the positive effect of religious commitment on happiness persists even among people with similarly-sized friendship networks.20 One study suggested that it is not the size of the network, but the sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people that results in the increased levels of happiness.21
Whatever the case, it appears that religious commitment contributes to happiness beyond simply increased social interaction or support.

18 Control variables included in regressions were self-reported physical health, marital status, age, educational attainment, race/ethnicity, gender, and marital happiness.
19 To control for community involvement we employed an index that adds the number of community activities that respondents selected as activities that they had participated in within the past year. Selection options were volunteering for a charitable or religious organization, attending a political protest or rally, attending a neighborhood association meeting, playing on a sports team, helping with a senior citizen’s center or group, volunteering time working with youth, attending a hobby club, and donating blood.
20 Lim, Chaeyoon and Putnam, Robert. “Religion, Social Networks, and Life Satisfaction.” American Sociological Review 75 (2010): 914-933; Ellison, Christopher et. al. “Does Religious Commitment Contribute to Individual Life Satisfaction?” Social Forces 68, no. 1 (1989): 100-123.
21 Ibid."


I will give the reviewers credit for at least noting that religion and belief in God offer the possibility of ultimate meaning and purpose in life far exceeding that of secular atheism. However, that really is only part of the picture. If the theist God of the Protestants does exist, as is the most logical conclusion of all the logical arguments presented on the subject, then God's presence would certainly be a factor in explaining this sense of happiness. True critical thinking requires open-mindedness towards all possible considerations. However, I've noticed in many examples how secular atheist apologists tend to avoid logic like the plague and avoid basic tools of logic.

Einstein's essay “Science and religion,” published in 1954, states, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”. One would have hoped that the reviewers and publishers of a study on such a subject would be able to break free from the straight-jacket of methodolocal naturalism so strictly enforced in secular academia today for a moment of fair-minded reflection, but that would likely threaten the careers of those who did not follow along goose-stepping with the secular academic system.

Tags: new study on happiness, religious people happier, reasons why religious people are happier, lack of critical thinking in secular academia, closed-minded and blind methodological naturalism. Einstein's quote science is blind without religion

No comments:

Post a Comment

You are welcome to post on-topic comments but, please, no uncivilized blog abuse or spamming. Thank you!