Religious Communities and Human Flourishing
In the project on Religious Communities and Human Flourishing, we aim to carry out original empirical research on how religious communities affect various aspects of flourishing including health, happiness, meaning and purpose, and close social relationships.
We also aim to summarize the most rigorous research in this area of religious communities and human flourishing outcomes and to relate it to traditions within theology and philosophy. A central component of the review and summary of empirical research is evaluating the strength of the evidence in what is a very large literature. Although numerous studies have suggested that participation in religious communities has a beneficial association with a variety of health outcomes, much of the empirical research relating religious participation to health outcomes is problematic because of the issue of "reverse causation" - the possibility that attending religious services might be associated with health only because it is only those who are healthy who can attend.
Rigorous designs with longitudinal data over time are necessary to control for this possibility and our own empirical research and also our research synthesis summary has restricted attention to those studies with such rigorous designs.