Research shows that people are ditching religion and turning their attention to nature instead



Science is showing that the spiritual experience of watching the sun cascade through a ceiling of trees is being preferred to the long-winded sermons of synagogue or Sunday mass.

A Baylor University study confirmed that people who live in places of sublime nature are more likely to find their spiritual fulfilment while standing on a mountain than kneeling in a church pew. In the study, US counties with natural wonders had significantly lower rates of religious affiliation. Alternatively, places with colder weather and flatter terrain have higher rates of religiousness.

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As sociologist Todd Ferguson put it, “Beautiful weather, mountains and waterfronts can serve as conduits to the sacred, just like traditional religious congregations.”

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The study suggests that religion could have been used a spiritual supplement for societies to understand that there are forces at hand bigger than themselves.

And while religion is extremely effective at creating strong community ties and instilling a foundation of sound values, in an increasingly secular world where more varied means of spiritual education are readily available, many people are finding it harder to tie themselves to dogma, idols and tradition.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, few wars have been fought in the name of Everest.

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As Baylor reports, scholars are beginning to study how activities “that use natural amenities — such as surfing, backpacking or SCUBA diving — may be viewed as religious experiences.”

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