Religion is beneficial to believers

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It has been suggested that this article be merged with Religious belief is beneficial to the individual

One argument for belief in God is that believers have transformed or significantly improved lives. This often includes overcoming personal problems or addition.

"Really when it comes down to it, changed lives are perhaps the least disputable evidence that God exists. [...] I’ve shared on this site before how I personally struggled with walking away from alcohol. [...] I was completely unable to quit drinking in my own strength. As a result my life was a pretty big mess. All it took is a genuine encounter with the living God of creation and I was completely set free of that addiction. [...] When we talk about changed lives of people who have had God encounters the examples we can point to are nearly endless. [1]"
"[...] the only unanswerable argument for Christianity is Christians—saintly Christians.[2]"

"If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man's outward actions-if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before-then I think we must suspect that his 'conversion' was largely imaginary [...] Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in 'religion' mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better [...] In that sense the outer world is quite right to judge Christianity by its results. [...] Our careless lives set the outer world talking; and we given them grounds for talking in a way that throws doubt on the truth of Christianity itself."

C. S. Lewis

"By their fruit you will recognize them."

Matthew 7:16 Bible-icon.png

Contents

Alleged benefits

Biblical examples

"In New Testament times the Christian church at Corinth included in its membership those who had been sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers, yet all had been transformed by biblical truth. [ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Bible-icon.png ][3]"

This assumes the Bible is an impartial source, which it isn't. In fact, if we are to assume the Bible is true, we don't need to refer to this argument at all since our conclusion is already a premise: "the Bible is true". This makes the argument circular.

Overcoming addition

God is credited with helping many people deal with additions. A higher power is often used as a basis for 12 step program in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Frequency of sex

"Conservative Protestants (men and women) reported having sex more often than any other group, while liberal Protestants had sex least often. Those without religion were next to lowest in their frequency of sex. [4]"
"conservative Protestants and black Protestants are more sexually active than other religious categories. Attendance at religious services has a negative effect on the frequency of sex activity. Subjective religiosity is not related to sexual frequency. [5]"
"Results suggest that among married older adults, religion is largely unrelated with sexual frequency and satisfaction, although religious integration in daily life shares a weak but positive association with pleasure from sex. For unmarried adults, such religious integration exhibits a negative association with having had sex in the last year among women but not men. [6]"

A study by Darrel Ray and Amanda Brown found that people who had left a religion self-reported an increased satisfaction and less guilt about sex. [7] This is probably due to the Christian teachings and attitudes about sexuality.

Counter arguments

Much of the evidence for this argument is based on cherry picked anecdotes. Using more rigorous statistical methods shows there are no differences between religious groups that cannot be explained by natural causes.

"There is only one unanswerable argument against Christianity: Christians."

— G. K. Chesterton

"Better songs would they have to sing, for me to believe in their Saviour: more like saved ones would his disciples have to appear unto me!"

Friedrich Nietzsche

Wrongdoing and hypocrisy seems to be generally comparable between religious (and secular) groups. This is another case of modern Christianity not fulfilling biblical signs.

See also

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. John Blanchard, Why believe the Bible?, 2004
  4. Rodney Stark, America's Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists, 2012
  5. Doris Elaine Stanley, Religion and sex: a look at sexual frequency as it relates to religious affiliation, religious attendance, and subjective religiosity, 2009
  6. McFarland et al., The Role of Religion in Shaping Sexual Frequency and Satisfaction: Evidence from Married and Unmarried Older Adults, 2011
  7. Darrel Ray and Amanda Brown, [3], 2011
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