A “shocking” revelation just released from Dartmouth Medical School: teenagers are turning in droves to religion, and it’s good for them! The study “concluded that young people who are religious are better off in significant ways than their secular peers.” The reporter notes,
After all our ambitious child-rearing with Discovery toys, Suzuki piano lessons, conflict-avoidance classes, 4 a.m. swim practices, SAT prep classes, driver education and summer flights to study folk music in the Republic of Georgia, we might have done as well (and saved a lot of money) by just sending our kids to the church, temple or mosque.
The overarching theme of this story is that religion just might be OK becasue it works – it provides agreeable social consequences. However, even the researchers noticed that maybe something bigger is at work here:
The commission members said that religious congregations benefit teenagers by affirming who they are, expecting a lot from them and giving them opportunities to show what they can do. These are not exactly earthshaking observations; as the panel noted, the same could be said of clubs, sports teams and other youth organizations (such as the YMCA, which helped fund the study). What sets religious groups apart, however — and makes a surprisingly big difference to kids, according to the panel — is that they promote a ‘‘direct personal relationship with the Divine.” Adolescents, said the Dartmouth group, are ‘‘hard-wired to connect” to people and God.
The last couple of sentences are the key to understanding these findings. Religion (Christianity in particular) is not “true” because it works – it works because it is true. Humans are made by God, for God. Unless we are in the relationship we were created for, most areas of our lives will be aschew. However, when that relationship is restored, everything else falls into place.