Religion and Disease

Deadly epidemics can have a profound impact on people’s choice of religion.

By | August 25, 2011

WIKIMEDIA

Religion and disease have always been intimately entwined. Deadly epidemics that swept through ancient populations millennia ago played an intimate role in the rise of modern religions, ScienceNOW reports. Conversely, differences in the way religions deal with disease and the caring of the sick have shaped the course of epidemics over time. Of main interest to Penn State evolutionary biologist David Hughes is why some religions, in particular Christianity, emphasize the importance of caring for the diseased, even at the risk of one’s own death.

In an attempt to study this in a modern setting, Hughes and colleagues surveyed religious attitudes among the people of Malawi, where AIDS has become the leading cause of death among adults. They found that 30 percent of people who described themselves as Christians visited the sick, in contrast to 7 percent of Muslims  They also found that in the last 5 years, about 400 of the 3000 respondents changed religions, mostly to Christianity, “where the promise of receiving care is greater and the stigma of having AIDS is less,” Hughes explained to ScienceNOW. The researchers presented their data at the 13th Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology earlier this week.

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Avatar of: Opalisa

Anonymous

August 25, 2011

Followers of Christ try to emulate his compassion and love for all mankind.  They also realize that the sufferings of this life are short-lived compared to an eternity with God.

Avatar of: Jim

Anonymous

August 25, 2011

I continue to be amazed at the number of people who believe there is any sort of god and afterlife -- just my opinion.

Avatar of: Arthur Retnakaran, Ph.D.

Anonymous

August 25, 2011

 Even though there is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of a personal God or religion or life after death or prayer, people still believe in these things. Intertwining diseases with religion is therefore not surprising. What is surprising is why  a compassionate God would allow a Rwandan massacre or a Tsunami in Japan or an earthquake in Haiti unless he is really a cruel God! Judaism, Christianity and Islam are probably the worst when it comes to using natural disasters, famine and diseases to promoting their religion.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 25, 2011

Followers of Christ try to emulate his compassion and love for all mankind.  They also realize that the sufferings of this life are short-lived compared to an eternity with God.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 25, 2011

I continue to be amazed at the number of people who believe there is any sort of god and afterlife -- just my opinion.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 25, 2011

 Even though there is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of a personal God or religion or life after death or prayer, people still believe in these things. Intertwining diseases with religion is therefore not surprising. What is surprising is why  a compassionate God would allow a Rwandan massacre or a Tsunami in Japan or an earthquake in Haiti unless he is really a cruel God! Judaism, Christianity and Islam are probably the worst when it comes to using natural disasters, famine and diseases to promoting their religion.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 25, 2011

Followers of Christ try to emulate his compassion and love for all mankind.  They also realize that the sufferings of this life are short-lived compared to an eternity with God.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 25, 2011

I continue to be amazed at the number of people who believe there is any sort of god and afterlife -- just my opinion.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 25, 2011

 Even though there is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of a personal God or religion or life after death or prayer, people still believe in these things. Intertwining diseases with religion is therefore not surprising. What is surprising is why  a compassionate God would allow a Rwandan massacre or a Tsunami in Japan or an earthquake in Haiti unless he is really a cruel God! Judaism, Christianity and Islam are probably the worst when it comes to using natural disasters, famine and diseases to promoting their religion.

Avatar of: Ashutoshmishra035

Anonymous

August 28, 2011

There is a spritual power in the universe that helps the people in their mserable condition on their pray. This spritual power is god. God does not need any relegion but the honest pray.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 28, 2011

There is a spritual power in the universe that helps the people in their mserable condition on their pray. This spritual power is god. God does not need any relegion but the honest pray.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 28, 2011

There is a spritual power in the universe that helps the people in their mserable condition on their pray. This spritual power is god. God does not need any relegion but the honest pray.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 29, 2011

This is similar to the argument made in my book, Health Care and the Rise of Christianity (1999).

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 29, 2011

This is similar to the argument made in my book, Health Care and the Rise of Christianity (1999).

Avatar of: Hector Avalos

Anonymous

August 29, 2011

This is similar to the argument made in my book, Health Care and the Rise of Christianity (1999).

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 30, 2011

The issue of theodicy has been on going for several millennia as evidenced by the Book of Job (and the tacked on happy ending). The issue really goes away if you consider that a benevolent God might have different long term goals that the preservation of a single individual (not that the individual is unimportant only that there is a larger goal/picture/idea at work). That really only applies to natural disasters though. The evil of others can be explained through the simple idea of free will. If we have free will than we have the option of doing evil and God cannot interfere with that unless God revokes free will. I'm not arguing for or against the existence of God - only that the argument you tendered has been addressed by many people over the centuries.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 30, 2011

The issue of theodicy has been on going for several millennia as evidenced by the Book of Job (and the tacked on happy ending). The issue really goes away if you consider that a benevolent God might have different long term goals that the preservation of a single individual (not that the individual is unimportant only that there is a larger goal/picture/idea at work). That really only applies to natural disasters though. The evil of others can be explained through the simple idea of free will. If we have free will than we have the option of doing evil and God cannot interfere with that unless God revokes free will. I'm not arguing for or against the existence of God - only that the argument you tendered has been addressed by many people over the centuries.

Avatar of: rapier1

rapier1

Posts: 1

August 30, 2011

The issue of theodicy has been on going for several millennia as evidenced by the Book of Job (and the tacked on happy ending). The issue really goes away if you consider that a benevolent God might have different long term goals that the preservation of a single individual (not that the individual is unimportant only that there is a larger goal/picture/idea at work). That really only applies to natural disasters though. The evil of others can be explained through the simple idea of free will. If we have free will than we have the option of doing evil and God cannot interfere with that unless God revokes free will. I'm not arguing for or against the existence of God - only that the argument you tendered has been addressed by many people over the centuries.

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