Login with your Social Account

harmony science religion

Researchers find how engagement with science can promote unbelief or beliefs about God

Most of the Americans think that religion and science are not compatible however a recent study suggests that proper scientific engagement can help in promoting belief in God. A team of researchers from the Psychology Department of Arizona State University have found that scientific information can actually invoke a feeling of awe leading to belief in abstract views of God. The work has been published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Kathryn Johnson, an associate research professor at ASU and also the lead author on the paper said that there are several ways of thinking about God. Some people view God in DNA, some view it in the grandeur of the universe and some think of God as described by the Bible. Scientists wanted to find out if scientific engagements created an impact on the beliefs of God’s existence. 

Jordan Moon, a coauthor on the paper and a psychology graduate student of ASU said that although science is viewed in terms of experiments and data, it might mean more to some people. Researchers studied two kinds of scientific engagement, logical thinking and experiencing a feeling of awe to find how people connected with science and what kind of impact it made on their faith in God. 

Participants were first surveyed about their interest in science, commitment to logical thinking and how often they felt awe. Commitment to logic was matched with unbelief. Participants who reported commitment to logic along with experience of awe or an overwhelming wonder leading to open-mindedness were more likely to believe in God. People reported their description of God as an abstract God who is mystical or limitless. This contradicts what is generally found in houses of worship. 

Johnson said that when people experience a feeling of awe upon knowing the vastness of the universe or complexity of life, they think in more spiritual terms. This feeling leads to more ways of conceptualizing God.

In another experiment, the participants engaged with science through videos. Hearing to a lecture on quantum physics led to agnosticism or unbelief whereas a music video on the duality of matter made people experience a feeling of awe. People experiencing along such lines reported a belief in abstract God. 

Adam Cohen, a psychology professor and also the paper’s senior author said that many people think that science and religion cannot exist together. They often think about both science and religion in a very simplistic manner. Both of the fields, science and religion are big enough to accommodate each other. This work could expand the views of both science and religion. 

Journal Reference: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

meditation person turkey

Studies reveal the negative effects of meditation on its practitioners

Meditation is usually associated with qualities such as peacefulness, happiness and satisfaction. People usually meditate for a calm mind and improving overall mental health. Meditative practices have been mentioned in the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism since 1500 BCE. Now it has been adopted worldwide and practised by masses for a better life.

However, a new study finds that upto a quarter of disciplined practitioners have had negative experiences with it. In a group of 1232 meditators, researchers mentioned some of the negative effects such as anxiety issues, fear and 315 people agreed that they identified one or more of these issues. The study was published in PLOS One.

Scientists mentioned that the intention of the study was not to show meditation in a bad light but it is only for creating awareness of the issues which could happen. Through an open discussion, it is possible for finding out solutions which will make meditation fun and fulfilling experience.

Marco Schlosser, lead researcher, University College London mentioned that the study will help in increasing and also improving the significance of meditation and not just as a technique for improving one’s health.

It is not clearly known why such situations arise and how these issues can be tackled properly. There is a fine line in understanding the importance, necessity of such negative effects and when such situations are ill effects which are to be avoided.

The participants of the study had a minimum experience of two months in meditation and were asked if they faced any of the above mentioned negative effects during practice sessions. An interesting observation came from the study. It was seen that female practitioners and the people who identified with a religious belief were much less probable to have negative experiences.

However, those who went to a meditation retreat had problems with negative thinking and one practised meditative practices such as Vipassana were more probable to face the negative effects. Schlosser commented that till now most of the researches have focused on the positive aspects of meditation and it is time that the other aspects are also thoroughly studied. He warned that one should not draw immediate conclusions about on negative consequences of meditation.

Previous researches have shown the positive effects of meditation. It can improve our immune system besides having a lasting impact on mental health. Researchers, however, note that the study did not account the present mental health conditions of the participants.