Resisting the match between religion and “spirituality”

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-123
Number of pages6
JournalReligion, Brain and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A second contrast between Anne and John’s meaning systems will further sharpen some of their differences. Let us assume that research provides incontrovertible evidence that compassion is good not only for society but also for the compassionate individual because it is associated with better physical and mental health. This scenario is not far-fetched given the accumulating evidence regarding the beneficial effects of altruism on psychosocial functioning. Given such evidence, it is easy to imagine financial support from National Institute of Health (NIH) for studies trying to promote greater compassion or altruism among Americans. Would the same, however, be true of religion? Can we imagine a scenario under which federal agencies or, for that matter, most other research-funding agencies would provide grants to foster an increase in church attendance or prayer in response to any amount of unequivocal evidence regarding the positive relationship between religion and, for example, longevity or mental and physical health? Paloutzian and Park (2013, p. 655) consider briefly this scenario only to admit that it is fraught with difficulties. Yet, is most of the research not funded by NIH, National Science Foundation (NSF), and other agencies aimed ultimately at improving individual and community quality of life through demonstrating the beneficial effect of X on Y and thus leading to the development of interventions aimed at enhancing X? If this is the case, then there are aspects of religious beliefs and practices that make them problematic for government-sponsored research in a way that is not true of other meaning systems.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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