Saturday, 3 May 2008

What a surprise: new age spirituality is bad for you – but organized religion is good!

Australia’s religious reporting takes a serious nosedive this week (if that is possible).

On ABC TV’s Compass Show, normally devoted to something at least vaguely religious (vague being the operative word as a general rule), the fare for this Sunday night is the first installment of a two part series by aggressive atheist Richard Dawkins, apparently devoted to debunking assorted superstitions, which he will no doubt portray as the essence of Christianity and other religious belief.

So it is useful perhaps that the Australian Online Opinion Journal has chosen to feature a Queensland study by Dr Rosemary Aird that points out the (totally unsurprising) finding that young adults who believe in God and practice organized religion were typical members of the population in terms of mental health, and probably a bit better behaved than average.

By contrast, Dr Aird found that those who engaged in new age spiritualism of various kinds were more likely to be anxious and depressed, to have disturbed and suspicious thoughts, and to behave in an antisocial manner.

The study itself is a bit old now, as it was done in the early 80s, and there isn’t any hard data included in the online write-up. Still, it is good to have academic research highlighting the essential distinction between dangerous ‘spiritualities’ and the broader societal benefits of traditional Christianity.

You can read it here:

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