The Experience of Awe in Nature Leads to Religious Beliefs

The experience of awe — in the form of mountains, canyons and outer space — makes one more apt to believe that the universe was constructed "according to God’s or some other nonhuman entity’s plan."

It has been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. The fear of death will make even the most hardened skeptic a believer. According to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science, the experience of awe — in the form of mountains, canyons and outer space — makes one more apt to believe that the universe was constructed "according to God’s or some other nonhuman entity’s plan."


While viewing stunning video images of nature didn't move the needle that much for the most ardent believers and atheists, those who fall more in the middle of the Dawkins Test tended to be affected.

The explanation, according to the study's authors, is that experiences of awe contain an element of fear that we seek an explanation for, in order to feel reassured. 

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