An exciting, new Oxford University study has found that faith and religion come to human beings naturally — possibly instinctively. The initiative, entitled the “Cognition, Religion and Theology Project,” took three years to complete and involved more than 40 different studies in 20 countries around the globe. According to CNN, the study has some intriguing findings:
Studies around the world came up with similar findings, including widespread belief in some kind of afterlife and an instinctive tendency to suggest that natural phenomena happen for a purpose.
While the results don’t speak to whether or not God (or gods) exists, Roger Trigg, the project’s co-director, believes that the findings are immensely important to religious freedom and human rights. When considering the idea that some governments restrict religious activities, Trigg said:
“If you’ve got something so deep-rooted in human nature, thwarting it is in some sense not enabling humans to fulfill their basic interests. There is quite a drive to think that religion is private. It isn’t just a quirky interest of a few, it’s basic human nature. This shows that it’s much more universal, prevalent, and deep-rooted. It’s got to be reckoned with. You can‘t just pretend it isn’t there.”
CNN points out the notion that both atheists and the religious can use the study to validate their beliefs. Trigg explains that the faithful can look at the data and say, ‘If there is a God, then … he would have given us inclinations to look for him.” On the flip side, atheists would potentially accept the notion that faith appeals to the human heart and mind, but that humanity must evolve and move beyond simple myths.
Arguably, the former argument seems more compelling, especially considering the fact that religious beliefs remained consistent, despite major cultural differences. Clearly, a common thread connects the human search for a higher being.
In the end, the study contends that, regardless of culture, belief in the afterlife and in purposeful happenings (or happenings with divine purpose) are completely natural and ingrained in human nature. Rather than existing as a remote or infrequent societal occurrence, faith and religion are normal (and frequent) human experiences. What do you think?