Tag Archives: Religion

Jesus’ life: inspired and scientific

Ours is a world of immense complexity and confounding questions. Mankind’s devotion to science and to religion reveals our deep desire to make sense of it all.

Science and faith have revealed otherly realms normally unobservable to our physical senses.  Both have uncovered universes we never knew existed. From the macro to the micro, our accumulated knowledge has yielded information and wisdom which have partially tamed the physical universe and freed us somewhat from the bonds of materiality.

“You will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” Jesus’ statement uttered over two millennia ago is the impulse for the theology he taught. It also happens to be the underpinning of all scientific enterprise. Revealing fundamental truth is the incentive of religion and scientific endeavor. The resulting discernment encourages freedom to express mastery over life’s perplexities.

Jesus’ life was divinely inspired. His service to God, love of mankind, and unrelenting reliance on an infinite wisdom he referred to as “my Father” is obvious and recorded in Scripture for the ages.

At the same time Jesus’ life was profoundly scientific. How so?   Read more…

Is spirituality good for your health?

Religion and spirituality have often been viewed in medicine as largely irrelevant, even conflicting with care. That impression is changing according to Dr. Harold Koenig, Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University.  He has studied the links between health and spirituality for nearly 30 years.

Faith and healing went hand-in-hand until the Freud era in the mid-20th century says Koenig who addressed health professionals and students over a two day period at the Cleveland Clinic last week.  Freud’s negative take on religion has had a major impact on the health profession ever since.

In his introductory remarks, Dennis Kenny, Director of Spiritual Care at the clinic commented that Koenig has “blown off the doors” in this field of study and has initiated a dialog among health experts about the influence of spirituality on patient outcomes.

There is resurgence in the interest of the health/spirituality connection.  Of the 3000+ quantitative original data-based studies ever done in this area, two-thirds have occurred in the last ten years.  A majority of the research points to a positive relationship between spirituality and health according to Koenig.

Here are a few of the findings:

Well-Being: Of the 326 quantitative studies examining the relationships between religion/spirituality and well-being, 256 (79 percent) found greater happiness and satisfaction with life in those individuals who were more spiritual.

Mental health:  In the 444 studies investigating the relationships between spirituality and depression (the leading cause of disability in the world since the 1990s), 272 (61 percent) found less depression, faster remission, or a reduction in depression severity in response to an inclusion of a religious/spirituality component.

Heart disease: Of the 19 studies exploring the association between spirituality and coronary artery disease, 12 (63 percent) reported significant inverse relationships.

Longevity:  Among studies with more rigorous methodology, 13 of 17 (76 percent) found that religion/spirituality predicted greater longevity.

Dr. Koenig went on to share many other findings covering a plethora of ills, both physical and mental.  The outcomes were similar: there is a positive link between religion/spirituality and better health.

Why is this important? For me it corroborates my own experiences.  Over the years I have found for myself that a deeper spiritual approach to life’s events enhances my well-being and has restored me to both physical and emotional health. I have also seen the same evidence for those I have helped to overcome their own health concerns.

In his work Koenig admits that not all studies indicate a positive relationship between spirituality and health.  Some show no association.  But he continues his work with the desire to enhance the healing arts.

When I asked Koenig about his career and what his research means to the medical community he responded that his hope is for this research to benefit health professionals in their ability to heal.   He said he wants there to be a realization of the power of the patient’s spirituality to influence their health.

In his book, Spirituality & Health Research, Koenig writes, “There are practical reasons that research in this area is so important, is likely to have a high payoff in the years ahead, and is worth the investment by government and private funding agencies.”

He goes on to say, “Given the role that religion/spirituality could play in preventing illness, speeding recovery, and motivating individuals to care for one another in the community (thereby reducing the need for expensive health services), research in this area will be of critical importance in addressing the escalating health-care costs in the United States and countries around the world.”

Koenig’s research reveals some provocative findings.  Does it answer the question as to a connection between spirituality and health?  Each of us has to answer that for ourselves.

Science: Take it on faith

 

Elegant mathematical calculations tell scientists that everything they see in the universe, the stars, planets and galaxies, only comprise 4% of the universe.  If correct, that means 96% is made of stuff that can’t be observed or identified.  Heck, they don’t really know what it is. 

The terms dark matter and dark energy have been coined to assist in explaining this invisible phenomena.  Scientists are in the dark. There is a concerted effort underway and billions of dollars being invested to prove the theory accurate.  They are taking it on faith that what they can’t see or understand is real.  What does that sound like?

Science, like religion, involves faith.  While science is all about knowledge, many don’t consider just how much faith is integrated into the scientific model.

Science has long enjoyed the reputation as the bastion of reason.  This standing is partly deserved.  Rigorous testing and validation of hypotheses is a means to truth.  Yet, part of science’s reputation is arguably owed to its refusal to ask the tough questions.  Why are the laws that govern the universe the way they are?  What established them?  Science has long resisted inquiry into this line of questioning. 

And even as scientists relinquish their narrow focus and consider these big questions, the results are anything but satisfying.  Chaos theory seems to abandon reason.  Multiverse theory appears to avoid the whole mess of why physical laws act the way they do by tossing them into another realm beyond our own universe.  This throws the long-held concepts of universal constants (like the speed of light) onto the trash heap. Continue reading Science: Take it on faith