New psychological research sheds light on why being religious brings perceived meaning to a person’s life, and psychologists say findings show it is due to what they call “cosmic mattering.”
The above summarizes the question that numerous psychological studies have asked over the years. New research published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin believes it has answered the above question.
As expected by the researchers, the study found that more religious participants tended to find their lives more meaningful than less religious participants. Further, the times in life when a person was more religious also tended to be when they felt a greater sense of meaning in their life.
“I have found that religious people will often claim that, if their religious beliefs weren’t true, then life would be meaningless,” said Michael Prinzing, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was involved in the research, reports PsyPost.org.
But already knowing that going into the study, the biggest question researchers wanted answeredr was: Why?
Before the study, Prinzing and his colleagues believed that religious people gain their sense of purpose and significance through social support because religions bring people into communities.
But through their research, which involved at least four separate studies, they found a very different answer.
In two separate studies, researchers found that only about 25% of participants gave weight to social relationships and the perceived meaning in life.
“In this paper, the idea was to test these two explanations: the academic psychologist’s explanation and the layperson’s explanation,” says Prinzing.
Prinzing elaborated: “When I talk with religious people about why their faith makes them think that life is meaningful, I have found that they tend to say things like this: ‘If God didn’t exist, then we would be just a cosmic accident. We would be mere specks of dust in the vast cosmic void, and there would be no significance to anything we do.'”
“That is a very different kind of explanation,” Prinzing explained. “I didn’t think that religious people themselves would offer that kind of explanation.”
The researchers determined that what drives religious people the most and finding meaning from religion is what they dubbed “cosmic mattering.”
“Religious faith appears to make life feel meaningful primarily because it appears to give people the sense that they matter even in the grand scheme of the universe,” Prinzing said.
Many in science champion the idea that life on earth is a cosmic accident. This rare event, with no evidence of any equivalent anywhere else in the universe, in which something came randomly from nothing. It rejects the biblical idea that God created the universe.
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”
– Romans 1:20
A concept many without religious faith fail to grasp is that if creation is only a cosmic accident, then nothing truly matters. It means there are no consequences for actions. People of Earth can do evil, and there will be no repercussions. Other than the risk of being imprisoned by violating human laws, there is nothing to answer to. We only matter by human laws, which vary from location to location. There are no “ultimate truth” or “eternal” laws for what defines right and wrong or good and evil.
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”