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I recently came across an article in PsyPost about a study on religion. PsyPost is an independently-owned psychology and neuroscience news website dedicated to reporting the latest research on human behavior, cognition, and society. In this article, they reported on a study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion suggesting that people who feel “securely attached” to God experience less distress in life. Interestingly, it also claims that those who feel “avoidant attachment” (that is, are firmly committed to the belief that God does not exist) also experience less distress in life. On the other hand, those who experience uncertainty in the relationship with God are the ones who feel distress. (https://www.psypost.org/2022/04/people-who-are-securely-and-avoidantly-attached-to-god-experience-less-distress-than-those-in-the-middle-62887) While this may seem a little odd to both groups who feel less distress, it actually makes perfect sense – and is actually quite an obvious result if you think about it.
What we really have with people who feel “securely attached” and “avoidant attached,” are people who are strongly committed to their own faith. They truly believe it. If you have that kind of confidence, it is only natural that you would not feel distress related to spiritual matters. On the other hand, if you struggle with whether or not to believe in God, distress is bound to emerge.
There have been a lot of articles written over the years, even in academic circles, that have affirmed how those who have a strong commitment to God feel more secure in life (not necessarily just Christian commitment, but strong commitment to pretty much any faith). By the same token, much has been made of the distress people feel when they struggle spiritually. But not feeling distress because of commitment to atheistic belief seems to be a new twist on the research. The way the article is written, it actually seems to come as a bit of a surprise to the researchers.
The reason it comes as a surprise to these researchers is because they obviously don’t understand the nature of what they have termed “aviodant attachment.” Even the expression itself gives away this lack of understanding. The truth is, “avoidant attachment” is simply another way to describe Atheism – which is a religious belief. And herein lies the problem: they don’t recognize that Atheism is a religious belief.
I have had conversations with numerous Atheists over the years, and one of the very common objections I get from them is their disagreement with me that Atheism is a religious faith. They try to insist that “lack of belief” is not a “belief.” Well, they are simply in error.
While they may describe their lack of belief in God in negative terms and try to blow it off as non-religious, there is a positive way to describe it, as well. They may not believe in God, but they do believe in something. They believe in Naturalism – the belief that the natural universe, operating by natural laws, is all that exists.
In order for something to be considered a religious belief, it must be believed by faith. So, if there is some kind of objective scientific evidence that something is true, it would not fall into the “religious” category. Since naturalistic Atheists dismiss the very idea of a spiritual reality, they believe that everything in all of reality can ultimately be understood by science. With this as a starting point, they claim to only believe in what can be proven by science. However, in doing that, they delude themselves because their belief in Naturalism itself is a religious belief. As Naturalism cannot be proven by science, it is necessarily a religious belief. So, the very idea of “avoidant attachment” is actually just another way to describe “attachment to naturalistic belief.”
When you understand the true nature of religious belief and are able to distinguish between what is a matter of science and what is a matter of faith, understanding the nature of the discussion all comes together nicely – it is quite obvious. But when you don’t know how to make those distinctions, you end up with articles (and supposed “scientific” research) that has no clue regarding what they are even talking about.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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