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Faith and Its CriticsA Conversation$
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David Fergusson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199569380

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199569380.001.0001

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Is Religion Bad For Our Health? Saints, Martyrs, and Terrorists

Is Religion Bad For Our Health? Saints, Martyrs, and Terrorists

(p.120) 5 Is Religion Bad For Our Health? Saints, Martyrs, and Terrorists
Faith and Its Critics

David Fergusson

Oxford University Press

This chapter weighs the good effects and bad effects of religion, by citing examples of saints, martyrs, and terrorists. New atheism sometimes broadcasts religion variously as the cause of disorder, violence, and abuse, and as the enemy of progress, reason, and enlightenment. Christopher Hitchens cites examples of religious communities resisting vaccination programmes, refusing to admit the benefits of condoms as a barrier to infection, failing to protect children in their care, mutilating women through the ritual of female circumcision, and generally producing guilt-ridden attitudes towards sex. However, research indicates that the practice of faith is generally good for one's psychological and social well-being. For instance, a survey in the USA in 2002 of almost 500 studies in scholarly journals concludes that there is a clear correlation between religious commitment and higher levels of well-being and self-esteem, and also lower levels of hypertension, depression, and criminal activity.

Keywords:   Christopher Hitchens, religion's effects, terrorism, martyrdom, Christianity, Islam, secular progress, health

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