The tenth in the series on the reformation of Christianity. The first part of this series focuses on the benefits of Christian belief and does not argue for whether the belief system is credible or true. I refer those interested in those questions to review my previous posts.
The proposition to defend today is that
it is better to believe that humans have been given a sacred purpose than to believe there is no possible purpose to our lives other than what we choose to create.
This proposition seems at first glance to need no defense. Of course it is better to have a purpose for living than not to have one. But the secular-physicalist mindset has become so ingrained in our culture that we either proceed as if we have purpose without understanding we have no rational foundation for it, or we accept the idea that creating our own purpose satisfies the need.
Having no purpose
The term “deaths of despair” was introduced by Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, a Nobel laureate for economics, in 2015. In their study, the most striking change in statistics was among non-hispanic whites without a college education. The prevalence of this occurrence is so great that the steady lengthening of lifespan in the US has reversed.
The economists do not point to a spiritual reason, instead suggest that the lack of opportunity experienced especially by men in this category is a major contributor. But this ignores other research that points to a lack of faith or religious belief as a contributor. A 2020 study by the T. H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard makes a strong case for the role of attending church services regularly in preventing deaths of despair. After studying data from 66,000 women and 44,000 men the authors of the report concluded:
“After adjusting for numerous variables, the study showed that women who attended services at least once per week had a 68% lower risk of death from despair compared to those never attending services. Men who attended services at least once per week had a 33% lower risk of…