3 votes

Nature is Divine

Amazing natural sights such as the the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights might increase people's tendency to believe in God and the supernatural, according to new research by US scientists.

The findings suggest that awe-inspiring sights increase our motivation to make sense of the world around us, and may underlie a trigger of belief in the supernatural.

Psychological scientist Doctor Piercarlo Valdesolo, of Claremont McKenna College in the United States, said: ‘Many historical accounts of religious epiphanies and revelations seem to involve the experience of being awe-struck by the beauty, strength or size of a divine being, and these experiences change the way people understand and think about.

'We wanted to test the exact opposite prediction: it's not that the presence of the supernatural elicits awe, it's that awe elicits the perception of the presence of the supernatural.’

Dr Valdesolo and his colleague Jesse Graham, of the University of Southern California, tested the prediction by having participants watch awe-inspiring scenes from BBC's Planet Earth documentary series or neutral video clips from a news interview.


Nature and a connection with the divine has long been observed, perhaps most famously by the Romantics.

Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that began in Europe towards the end of the 18th century and peaked between 1800 and 1850.

Artists and philosophers who belonged to the movement emphasised the glory, beauty and power of the natural world.

Feeling alienated by traditional religious beliefs, the romantics looked upon nature as the dwelling place of God. God and the natural universe were one and the same.

They saw nature as a metaphor for the sublime - the power and mystery of forces that inspired awe, solace and self-discovery.

Famous romantic Jean-Jacques Rousseau held that humans were by nature good but were corrupted by society. ‘Natural man’ was close to nature and unspoiled by social institutions.

The main reason for the development of this strong connection between nature and God was the Industrial Revolution, which caused many people to leave the countryside and live in cities, separating themselves from the natural world.

The connection may also have arisen as a backlash against the scientific trend for enlightenment philosophy.

In addition to this, large areas of European and North American wilderness had been tamed, so that it had become much safer for people to travel to natural wonders.

Overall, the participants who had watched the awe-inspiring video tended to believe more in supernatural control, and were more likely to believe in God when compared with the news-watching group.

The effect held even when awe-inspiring but impossible scenes, such as a massive waterfall through city streets, were presented.

Read rest here:

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Some people's vocabulary has

Some people's vocabulary has trouble with the word "God". I like "divinity" myself. It just makes more sense to me. I see divinity in all things, especially nature.

And psychedelics.

Asclepius's picture

That works for me :-)

I may change the title ...

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds. - Bob Marley

Nature being material

God is the spirit within the material you.

Asclepius's picture

Yes, indeed...

A wise observation of what most take for granted.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds. - Bob Marley