Over the course of time, humans have developed a multitude of faith systems. It helps introduce a sense of divinity – which I’d rather like to call a sense well-being or peacefulness into the devotee. In this post, I approach the subject with the scientific method – questioning, observing and inferring with what falls under my domain of perception. Now if you are someone who knows me in real-life (or perhaps social media), you’ll notice I don’t take on such subjects for discussion but let this be an exception 😉
Peacefulness: Okay, before you go on telling me meditation has calming effects, let me reinstate we are strictly constricting our discussion to acts of the spiritual nature such as praying. From my observation, I find that praying or as the devotee would say surrendering oneself to a superior entity has a calming effect on the mind. How? Here is my theory. I say that praying or surrendering one’s problems to God allows the mind to satisfy the self that its problems are no longer “its” but rather now shared among with a superior entity who possibly (as the mind would say) has in its powers the ability to sort them out. Also, this might reduce anxiety as the burden is “virtually” shared.
Happiness: Any psychiatrist or scientist for that matter would quite arguably say happiness and peacefulness are all pretty much linked. You raise the levels of GABA, dopamine and serotonin in the brain and you can expect to see these psychological states triggered in the individual and these effects are observed in people who have just committed spiritual acts probably because of the reduced anxiety. I believe the notion that spiritual people (as claimed by them) lead happier lives is partly true basing on this scientific fact.
Tendency of wrong-doing: If you look up personal records of criminals, I’m sure you’ll find mental illness or some sort of mental agony that likely has coerced them into committing the crime. Again like I’d discussed previously, happiness stems from the brain’s chemistry and this chemistry is in-turn dictated by what the brain does to itself. Does the brain pop in an SSRI or two to make itself happy or perhaps drink coffee? In case of people who claim (and believe) to have spiritual connections in their lives are in my opinion, less likely to do wrong primarily because of the aforementioned reasoning. But again there are factors like fear that could come into the equation (as in certain faith systems) and prevent criminal activity of a person.
Confidence: I’m sure those who preach religion also claim they gain confidence to do something when they are involved or will participate in an event that can mathematically be said to have an unforeseen and probabilistic outcome, or as the preachers call it “luck”. Now how do we explain this apparent gain in confidence with science? We could say that the act of praying induces a sense of well-being in the individual as we previously justified scientifically and this brings about a change in brain chemistry that explains the gain in confidence.
A big question: Who is likely to live longer, happier lives?
As silly as it sounds, I think this is worthy of a debate before I conclude my post, crawl into my sheets and doze off to sleep. Do scientific people like me who stand by our understanding of our physical surrounding to explain our lives (what has happened, is happening and will happen) live happier and longer lives or do the God preachers do it better? The religious are a little likely to live happier lives with lower levels of anxiety as a result of their faith while the scientific people might really know what it takes to keep them happy and well and do it accordingly, hence equally living lives as fullest to their religious counterparts. It’s hard for me to put forth an answer to this question just like that without solid research and therefore will leave this post here, leaving you to ponder. Maybe you will question your whole belief system after this (if you do have one)!