Today’s world seems to be increasingly irreligious. In point of fact, 16% of the global population describe themselves as “religiously unaffiliated”, which is more than any other time in our history. However, while more people no longer believe in a religion, religious faith in the population is also still expected to grow. This is because as the population as a whole enlarges, there will be more people who are born having faith. Due to both of these beliefs, or lack thereof, growing larger, many people have been arguing whether faith and belief in religion has a positive or negative impact upon one’s life. In other words, can faith be beneficial to and a resource for, the mind?
In the religious sense, faith is defined as loyalty to God, or belief in doctrines of a certain religion. The most important aspect of this definition, though, is that there is no proof or evidence that those beliefs are true. Therefore, in order for one to have religious faith, they must believe certain things that they may not ever be able to confirm.
It is popular today, among those with no faith in God, to hold the notion that faith and reason are incompatible. They say that religion not only has a negative impact on the mind but that it has a negative impact on society. Most of the world’s poorest countries also have the highest parentage of religious faith. It is obvious that being destitute is not healthy and therefore has a negative impact on one’s mind. Religion also makes people believe things that are harmful to themselves and others. For instance, it has been shown that abstinence-only education, which is supported by many religions, increases teen pregnancy. Depression and many other mental health problems have been linked to teenagers who have become pregnant. Devout religious faith and beliefs have also been connected with cognitive impairments. Some people with a strong faith in God have been shown to rely greater on intuitive thought, which is often more deceiving than analytic thought.
People who have faith and belief in religion argue that there are many different benefits to having a strong spirituality and faith in god. There has been plenty of evidence found to back this reasoning up. For example, people with strong religious faith have been shown to be able to cope better with stress and illness. This same study concluded that strong faith and belief in religion allows people to adjust to health problems more readily, both mental and physiological. There have also been findings that suggested that the inclusion of readings from the bible and prayer can benefit someone’s therapy and recovery from mental illness. People of religious faith also have a strong support network, which can be a resource if one should ever need anything or was having trouble. Having faith has also been linked to better life satisfaction and higher levels of happiness.
It is without a doubt that religious faith can have both positive and negative impacts on one’s mind. On the negative side, faith in God may have some bad side-effects, both internally and externally. On the other hand, research has shown that faith and belief are strongly correlated with many beneficial things. There are sound arguments on both sides. Obviously, faith as an additional resource for one’s mind must be evaluated on a case by case basis. It is up to the individual to decide.