Science and Health, with No Reference to Mary Baker Eddy

Science and Health, with No Reference to Mary Baker Eddy April 4, 2020


An overall look at Leeds
A view of the city of Leeds, in the United Kingdom  (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


Some while ago, I read Andrew Sims, Is Faith Delusion? Why Religion is Good for Your Health (London and New York: Continuum, 2009).  Dr. Sims, who taught for many years as a professor of psychiatry in the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, was founder-editor of Developing Mental Health and, for ten years, the founding editor of Advances in Psychiatric Treatment.  He is also a former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.  Here are a few notes from the book:


In the last few years there has been much research on outcome for those with religious commitment with various mental illnesses.  This research is concerned with correlation, a fixed relationship between two variables, and finds that, overall, there is a positive relationship between religious faith and practice and better mental health.  (219)


Religious involvement is correlated with:

  • Well-being, happiness and life satisfaction;
  • Hope and optimism;
  • Purpose and meaning in life;
  • Higher self-esteem;
  • Better adaptation to bereavement;
  • Greater social support and less loneliness;
  • Lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression;
  • Lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide;
  • Less anxiety;
  • Less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies;
  • Lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse;
  • Less delinquency and criminal activity;
  • Greater marital stability and satisfaction.  (Table 1, 220)


Work on depression can be summarized: that those with Christian belief and practice have a lower risk for developing depressive disorder and symptoms, and religious activity may lead to a reduction in depressive symptoms.  In particular, involvement in religious community activities and valuing faith highly convey advantage, and organizational (such as going to church) rather than private activities give the most benefit.  Religious involvement helps people to cope with stressful life events, which are often precursors to depressive illness.  Religious belief is also a powerful protective factor from suicide and suicidal behaviour in children, adolescents and adults. . . .

Belief tends to decrease the harmful effects of anxiety and so improve general health.  (220)


The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry, and medicine generally.  If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land!  (221; compare page xi)



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