Life Expectancy Rate Decline

Dan Hart
2017-08-15

Dear Jerry,

For the first time since the 1930's, the overall life expectancy rate in America has declined. Why? Because the suicide rate is increasing all over the country.

There are a multitude of factors that have contributed to this increase. However, all of these factors can be boiled down to one primary cause: despair.

From where is this increasing level of despair coming from? I would argue that one of the primary causes for increasing despair is increasing unbelief in God. The Pew Research Center reports that 23 percent of Americans currently describe themselves as "nones," or those who consider themselves either atheist, agnostic, or "nothing in particular." This number has been steadily rising since at least 1972, when "nones" made up seven percent of the population. In just the last 10 years, this number has jumped eight percent, from 15 to 23 percent.

It has been statistically verified that those who attend religious services are far less likely to commit suicide: In a study of 89,000 people "between 1996 and 2010, those who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide." In another study, "of the 6,999 Catholic women who attended Mass more than once a week, none committed suicide" (emphasis mine).

Without a belief system built on divine revelation, human beings will form their own belief systems around whatever suits them. The secular world is more than happy to fill this demand for what to believe--we are constantly bombarded by the news media and popular entertainment about what we should believe is right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is tolerant and intolerant, what constitutes equality and inequality, etc. If we don't have religious belief that provides a moral framework grounded in absolute truths, we put ourselves in the risky position of having to ultimately trust in human beings for the ultimate answers. The inevitable culmination of purely human thinking is despair, because we are and never can be ends in ourselves. As discussed previously, we know where despair can eventually lead.

Christ reveals an infinitely better way: divinely revealed truth. In Matthew 16:23, he rebukes human thinking: "You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns." As Christians, we must do all we can to turn back the tide of unbelief that is steadily rising in America, trusting not in the ways of man, but in the ways of God.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

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