God Cures Hypertension
(Cross-posted at Jesus’ General)
I don’t know why it is that every time I’m given a chance to speak to The General’s choir, I become completely pre-occupied with religion. Perhaps it’s a function of my atheism acting as the equal and opposite reaction to his unassailable religiosity. Whatever it is, I just had to share my thoughts on this new study that suggests a strong religious faith keeps your blood pressure down. I know, my first thought was “duh” too.
Now that all of the research about salt contributing to high blood pressure is being run asunder, it makes sense that the scientific community would be looking for other factors that might play a role, and after salt, God is the next logical step. Unlike so many studies that attempt to make connections between the strangest things, this study makes perfect sense, even to a Godless heathen like me.
If you are a person that believes at your core that God has a plan for you, what is there to worry about? Everything horrible can be explained away with a few simple words, “it must be God’s will.” That’s a pretty powerful stress reducer if I’ve ever heard one. There’s no sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do about the horrible things happening around you, if it’s God’s will, it will take care of itself, no need for you to get involved. Might as well get a good night sleep.
Now, certainly I am making this much simpler than it is (and I’ll make some sweeping generalizations too), but I can see how having a hands-off approach to life would make living it a lot less stressful. And unlike the whole salt issue, stress is still thought to contribute to high blood pressure as well as a slew of other ailments. I guess we haven’t evolved enough as a species to allow our bodies to function at the optimum capacity without God. You’ve got to admit, that’s a pretty interesting admission coming from an atheist.
I’d be interested to see a study that compared different types of religious beliefs though. This particular study looked specifically at African Americans, a good idea considering that high blood pressure is reaching epidemic proportions in the black community, and for the most part, they aren’t the stressed out religious believers that their white Fundamentalist brethren are. Those folks spend far too much time worrying about stem cell research, abortion and what gay men are doing in the dark to ever really find any real comfort in their beliefs. But religion in the black community seems to be more about finding solace and peace in a world that offers too little of both.
Black folks don’t take a passive approach to religion, as in, here are your marching orders, don’t forget to cross every “T” and dot every “I” if you want to make it to heaven. No, if you’ve ever been to a black Baptist gathering of any kind, you know that they give as good as they get, even from the best preacher. While those crazed Fundamentalists spend their time stalking abortion doctors and hounding the families of dead gay soldiers, religious African Americans seem content to live their lives (the key being “their” lives) according to God’s teachings, and instead of being preoccupied with stamping out sin in every nook and cranny, they simply derive a sense of peace from knowing they’re living a good life. It’s a whole other way of approaching, receiving and understanding God. I’m not surprised they derive some physical benefit from that kind of faith.
But what do you want to bet those Fundamentalists are popping blood pressure meds like there’s no tomorrow (and if the Rapture happens today, there won’t be). I don’t have any scientific evidence to back this up, let’s just call it a hunch.