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Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by Southern Illinois University David P. Clark - Department of Microbiology

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8. Religion and tradition: health below or heaven above?

Religion and health care

Religion is often criticized for offering its adherents “pie in the sky when you die.” But do religions really hold the loyalty of their followers by offering an afterlife? Few religious believers, however devout, seem overly enthusiastic about moving onward and upward to paradise. I argue that whether a religion is successful in practice depends on protecting its followers from the hazards of life on planet Earth. For most of history, infectious disease was the major killer, so how religion responded to disease was a crucial aspect.

We must distinguish between the supernatural and natural aspects of religion. Most religions offer prayers for the sick. In addition, ...

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