Religion is by nature a subjective social construct that has existed since antiquity. The intangible elements of religion which are subjective to a believer cannot be studied by science because they cannot be seen. Emotions, socio-cultural religious beliefs, practices, attitudes and motivations cannot be observed by the scientific method because they are subjective and therefore cannot be studied through the prism of a scientific objective.
Most notable is the argument that religious and non-religious people have between creation and evolution. There is a scientific evidence base behind evolution due to fossilization and carbon dating, structural sedimentary and geographic evidence, and scientific study of DNA mutations. Because of this brevity of scientific evidence, there is a broad consensus in society that evolution exists. Unlike evolution, creation is based on subjective experiences, intangibles, and the interpretation of religious texts, which has allowed for significant debate about the existence of creation and whether or not it is the foundation of the universe.
Researchers have attempted to determine why people believe in religion. This has led to subjective conclusions that are influenced by the preconceptions and conceptions of the researchers involved and how they choose to sample people. No concrete conclusions can be drawn about why people believe in religion, as it is subjective and there is no limit to the number of conclusions that can be drawn. Therefore, attempting to understand the motivations, practices, beliefs and emotions behind religion through the study of psychology is important as it can influence practical decision-making such as the development and implementation of policies. Let us cite, for example, vaccinations against Covid-19 and the persistence of certain religious communities in not obtaining them for various reasons related to their practices. Areas such as the West Coast have lower vaccination rates than the rest of the country due to religious communities like Gloriavale fearing receiving the vaccine.
Some researchers, as noted in one article, directly correlate the impact of religious beliefs to increased emotional well-being. The conclusions are similar to those drawn from Corbett’s reading of Jungian psychology. Carl Jung believed in the importance of the correlation between spirituality, religion and the undeniable link to mental health. Corbett refers to a dissertation by Hill and Pargament, a study in which Corbett shows that religious and spiritual beliefs in diverse communities have had a positive impact on mental, physical, and emotional health and well-being. Jung’s theories of the unconscious brain and religion can be compared to the positive benefits of activities such as meditation, relaxation and yoga on an individual’s physical and mental well-being, activities based on the principles of religion. .
This may well be the case, as many people turn to religion when faced with significant challenges and a belief in faith. The persistence of hope that their situation will improve could increase an individual’s emotional well-being. One could also look at this phenomenon in relation to the acceptance of death due to a positive vision of the afterlife. Other ideas posed in the reading of Paloutzian illustrate the different ways of apprehending the phenomenon and its study due to subjectivity.
Society has evolved and developed a better understanding of the human brain. Consequently, more theories on the relationship between the brain and religion have been proposed with varied reception by the scientific and religious communities. Paloutzian refers to ideas such as digital technology and its understanding of religious experiences, social conditioning, self-realization and its relationship to religion, and the socio-cultural impact on individual and collective behavior historically and contemporary. Plus, how it intersects in a global landscape of interpretations, knowledge, and understanding.
Researchers and scholars again have their own subjective interpretation of the study of religion and its connection to science. There is no clear conclusion to the study of religion due to the conflicting opinions on the subject. Due to the subjectivity and science of the human brain, understanding the mechanisms of trauma and coping and the underlying psychological understanding could be linked to the scientific study of religion. Simultaneously, the subjectivity of an individual’s experiences and the inability to examine religion through the scientific method for people’s experiences, socio-cultural religious beliefs, practices, motivations and emotions illustrate the limitations of religion in as a scientific study.
In order to achieve peace, we must study religion and the intersection or lack thereof with science. Understanding religious beliefs, customs and practices and how they differ from our interpretations of science helps formulate foreign and global policy. An understanding of both conflicts from the past to the present, to predict future areas of tension, aids peacekeeping operations like the functioning of the United Nations.