Saturday, May 27, 2006

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The horrible things that happen around us are caused primarily by the will of men. They have nothing to do with the will of God.

After the Sago mine disaster, Randal McCloy wrote a letter to the families of the men who did not make it out. He wrote that one of the miners told him, that if they died in the mine, it would be God’s will. This is nonsense. The self-interest of corrupt mine owners and the collusion of the Bush administration contributed to the death of those miners. Their deaths were not the will of God.

God’s will, to me, is simple. I am asked to love God, and to love my neighbor as myself. This implies responsibility. If it is God’s will that men live, then it is our responsibility to enact and enforce safety regulations so that men do not needlessly die in mines.

Religion should not only be a refuge in a difficult and unjust world. It should also be the foundation from where we go forth and seek justice. With justice, there can be solace and peace, and maybe lower blood pressure for all.

I do not believe you are as much of a Godless heathen as you claim. God needs prophets to expose the sins of the word. And, whether it’s an unjust war, or an unjust school closing, isn’t that what you do?

3:48 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Anonymous--I agree with you about the will of man. We are a flawed species and often act without enough consideration for the impact our actions have on the people and things around us.

I myself do not believe in God, but I appreciate those, like yourself, who do use their religion as the foundation for doing good (or at the least, doing no harm) and living a life that contributes to the betterment of society. I get the sense that most religious people feel this way, and it is the vocal minority that twist religious teachings to support an abhorrent political philosophy that runs counter to the teachings of Jesus.

And thank you for your kind words. I may not believe in God, but I know right from wrong and my morality will not allow me to sit silent in the face of injustice. Much of what is written in the Bible appeals to me (as do so many other fables that teach us when we are young what justice and decency look like), I don’t have to believe they are the words of God to find meaning in them.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Rory Shock said...

I don't believe in god ... and I believe that cardiovascular exercise and a heart healthy diet probably does a whole shitload more than prayer ... and I am skeptical of this sort of "study" ... who the hell would want to bother "proving" such a claim except a religious person who wants to spread the word of god ... johnny get down on your knees and pray or god'll give ya the big one ... studies also show that atheists who blog have lower bloodpressure than christians who eat crispy creme donuts ...
religion is pretty much the basis for 90% of the carnage in Iraq ... that makes my atheistic heathen blood boil ...

7:58 PM  
Blogger Godlessfriend said...

"When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat. Yet fool'd by hope, men favour the deceit."

Fear not, liberal one, the vocal few that spew their religious hate...Forget not, liberal darling, the vast armies of sheep that sway in the winds of their words.

8:06 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Rory--Man, have I missed you. I'm still laughing as I'm trying to type this. I think you may be right about atheist bloggers. My blood pressure is so low, it is consistently remarked upon by every single doctor or nurse that takes it. The down side is that I'm prone to fainting, but the possibility of hitting my head during a fainting episode (maybe once every three or four years) is far less dangerous than high blood pressure.

8:06 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Godlessfriend--I forget them not and if I were prone to prayer, I would ask for a new vocal few to arise, that could sway them away from what their God would despise.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess we haven’t evolved enough as a species to allow our bodies to function at the optimum capacity without God.

Not quite. We evolved the capacity to have gods, and to believe in them. This capacity is an evolutionary step forward, as evidenced by lower stress levels and thus lower blood pressure. Human beings yearn for meaning, so we invent meaning where none is to be found.

Note also, however, that meditation relieves stress, and so does vigorious sex. :-)

12:59 AM  
Anonymous Roberta Kelly said...

". . Until 1926, Burbank had preferred not to publicize his freethought views broadly, devoting his energies to the Burbank's Experiment Farms in Santa Rosa, California. But two events caused him finally to go public with his opinions of religion.

The first was the famous Scopes trial of 1925, the "monkey trial" that thrust evolution into the national spotlight. The fact that a high school teacher had been put on trial for teaching the "heresy" of Darwinism (which Burbank had been teaching, and practicing, for many years) "aroused him to a conviction that he ought to speak out, without mincing words, and declare for truth," according to biographer Wilbur Hall (The Harvest Of The Years, by Luther Burbank, with Wilbur Hall, 1927, Houghton Mifflin).

The second event was his friend Henry Ford's newly publicized views in favor of reincarnation. Edgar Waite, a reporter for the San Francisco Bulletin, interviewed Burbank about his reaction to Ford's ideas and wrote a front-page story appearing on January 22, 1926, with the headline: "I'm an Infidel, Declares Burbank, Casting Doubt on Soul Immortality Theory."

Most of the Christians, and many clergy, had hoped that Burbank had either been misquoted or that he had been thoughtless in choosing the word "infidel." But in a follow-up interview, Burbank indicated that he had checked with the dictionary. "I am an infidel," he insisted. "I know what an infidel is, and that's what I am."

And to think of this great country in danger of being dominated by people ignorant enough to take a few ancient Babylonian legends as the canons of modern culture. Our scientific men are paying for their failure to speak out earlier. There is no use now talking evolution to these people. Their ears are stuffed with Genesis."

The media owners and their cohorts figured out how to bind people into unconscious consumers of the propaganda machine of bullshit religion.

What a crock religion has been and how did we get here when we had thinkers such as Luther Burbank, more than 80 years ago for christsake!

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Roberta Kelly said...

The most frightening thing going on at this time is about the US Financial Institutions now part of the NSA - spooks for ? under the guise of protecting children from internet porn - kind of like "freedom on the march" in the Middle East:
Financial firms attack child porn
Updated 5/26/2006 1:22 AM ET
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
The nation's leading banks and credit card companies will soon team with law enforcement in a groundbreaking coalition to catch people who sell child pornography online.

The financial institutions will report child porn sites they discover on the Web to a central tip line, slated to expand next month to receive the information. The companies will block transactions for online child porn or, if law enforcement opens an investigation, help track sellers and buyers.

The Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography represents a new phase in the war against what has become a multibillion-dollar, international business. Internet service providers, including AOL, already report child porn sites they find.

"The scope of the problem is much greater than we ever thought. It's mind-boggling," says Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, a private group that runs the tip line. Allen says one website can attract tens of thousands of customers, mostly men, who use credit cards to buy $29 monthly subscriptions. "People are getting into this because they see children as a commodity. There's no question organized crime is involved."

Eager to take profitability out of online child porn, Allen and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., brought together the companies.

"This is the broadest, most comprehensive coalition we've been involved in," says Joshua Peirez, a MasterCard executive. "This is not a competitiveness issue. This is about protecting children," he says.

"I haven't seen anything like it," adds Drew Oosterbaan, chief of the Justice Department's child exploitation section. "We're here to support the effort."

Participants include Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, which cover most of the U.S. credit card market. Also involved are Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup and PayPal. Visa, MasterCard and American Express say they will identify sites accepting their cards to sell child porn but won't reveal customers unless subpoenaed."

It IS the money that got us into this in the first place, the creation of counterfeit $$ to control people by way of consumerism as an uncontrollable addiction.

Here we go again, the Financial Institutions under the guise of a coalition against child pornography.

The last time these people got together on Jekyll Island to become central bankers who kept financial balance in place on planet Earth we ended up with the Federal Reserve System and this has spawned the IMF, WB, WTO, etc.

Just another crock of their shit because they fully intend to steal the freedom of the internet right before our eyes and underneath our noses . . . posing all the while as those who care.

Do something fast about this because George Orwell's 1984 is an absolute with this creeping Spook ploy by none other than the most dangerous porn of all - and they are titled bankers - who steal everyone's wealth for their own self-entitled narcissistic profits.

Rove, et al. recently blocked the .xxx code which would have completely set up the porn business on-line as an entity that could easily be contained.

Now, we have the financial industry joining up with the law enforcement agencies to spy on consumers and then turn them it - by what standards?

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

god created man. the will of god and the will of man is the same thing. the miners died for a reason. everyhting happens for a reason. More miners will die if they don't raise the standards and, the larger problem, get rid of Bush / corporate politicians.

bad things HAVE to happen to good people. It's why they are bad.

if a bad thing happens to a bad person, it's good!

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually it's bad too.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eureka! Salt!

I've long wrestled with the idea that heterosexual perversion, not homosexuality, brought destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Were these cities more religious than we assume? It's likely. Did their conservative leaders preach an extreme intolerance that led to their murderous perversions? Were they destroyed, not because of homosexuality, but because homosexuals were so dispised, inhumanity spread like cancer?

Why was Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt? Is this another example of God's vindictiveness? Or, wanting to apply a sense of justice, was she made the supreme example of justice?

Should the bible be interpreted literally or as metaphor? Are parables not metaphor? The best metaphorical interpretation I know concludes: we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God and an afterlife. To assume absolute certainty (one way or the other) is blasphemy. Whoever would know for a certainty, God, like the CIA, would have to kill, and did.


11:36 AM  
Anonymous Scott said...

If you don't go to church, you won't make it to heaven. If you don't pay X% of your income to the church, you won't get really nice accomodations once in heaven. If you don't beat a doctor to death for performing adoptions, you won't make it to heaven either. Blah blah blah. I've never believed in the policy of scaring people into doing things. I guess thats why I'm stuck in the reality-based world. I'm not sure what my blood pressure is at the moment, but there is one thing I almost never get that seems to often plague the faithful: Nightmares. I doubt religion can have a significant or even beneficial effect on blood pressure, especially with their policy of using scare tactics to keep people in line. As with anything, some religions are going to be worse than others on that. Of course, that would hold for hypertension too. Would believing in a false god provide as many blood pressure benefits as believing in the real one(s)? Perhaps they should expand their study and prove scientifically which god offers the best health coverage, and which god allows a person to make their spousal unit happy. Do you think religions would then need to come with a warning that happiness for more than 4 hours at a time is a sign of a serious religious condition for which they should immediately consult their priest/rabbi/shaman/etc?

5:32 PM  

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