The Social Ecology of Religion

By Vernon Reynolds; Ralph Tanner | Go to book overview

14
Religions and the Reduced Risk of Disease

A study by Friedman and Rosenman1 showed higher rates of coronary artery disease in "type A" people, who were characterized by forceful driving personality, competitiveness, and adherence to deadlines, than in "type B" people, who lacked these traits. Christian beliefs, if taken seriously, should make people less desperately competitive, or at least not more so. Christian churchgoers have indeed been found to have less heart disease than nonchurchgoers. 2 From the point of view of diet, Christianity, which regards gluttony as sinful, tends to reduce the intake of fats and sugars; likewise Islam, which has prayers involving physical exercise five times a day, must be conducive to fitness. Buddhism, which emphasizes the value of a contemplative life, disapproves of cut-throat competition, teaches meditation, and suggests a slow pace of life and a friendly, cooperative attitude to the business of making a living, appears to enable its followers to avoid the stress syndrome discussed. Overall it seems that religiosity and religious stability seem to protect against the competitiveness, aggressiveness, and impatience typical of "type A" behavior. 3

Some forms of cancer are known to be environmentally induced. Such, for example, is lung cancer, which is caused by inhaling tobacco smoke into the lungs; the smoking habit also increases the incidence of heart disease. Religious groups, such as Mormons, who taboo or object to smoking have a low incidence of lung cancer.


Use of Left and Right Hands

Religious rules on which hand is to be used for excretory and/or sexual activities are widespread in Hinduism and Islam. In general the left

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The Social Ecology of Religion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents *
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • 1 - Why Religions? 3
  • Notes 18
  • 2 - Prior Approaches to the Study of Religion 19
  • Notes 28
  • 3 - The Challenge of Modernity 29
  • Notes 50
  • Part II - Religion and the Life Cycle 51
  • 4 - Conception and Contraception 53
  • Notes 75
  • 5 - Infanticide and Abortion 79
  • Notes 97
  • 6 - Birth and Childhood 101
  • Notes 126
  • 7 - Adolescence 131
  • Notes 147
  • 8 - Marriage 149
  • Notes 180
  • 9 - Divorce and Widowhood 185
  • Notes 197
  • 10 - Middle and Old Age 200
  • Notes 209
  • 11 - Death 211
  • Notes 230
  • Part III - Religions and Disease 235
  • 12 - Faith and Sickness 237
  • Notes 261
  • 13 - Religions and the Enhanced Risk of Disease 267
  • Notes 282
  • 14 - Religions and the Reduced Risk of Disease 285
  • Notes 300
  • 15 - General Conclusions 305
  • Notes 312
  • Index 313
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