Virgin Candle

Before science came to prominence and continuing today, religion has held the emotional high ground.

Science dismissed emotion as irrational and that’s part of its success. And so, science hasn’t dealt in hope or happiness. That’s allowed religion to continue its hold on the believers by providing the emotional support science didn’t.

Over the past couple of decades science has been investigating the mechanisms behind human happiness through positive psychology and neuroscience. This is a welcome opening, developing emotional tools that were previously the domain of religion because it was the only game in town. The irrational drawbacks of religion were commonly overlooked since religion could provide emotional support and a comforting world view. If you truly believe in a possibly happy afterlife, it takes the fear away from death and helps people get through hard times.

Treating one another well doesn’t seem to happen as much in religious countries as it does in countries of mostly unbelievers. Ironically, if you look at the markers of literacy, income, homicide rates and violent crime the least religious countries outshine the religious ones.

And when taken to the extreme, if the ultimate happiness is in a promised afterlife, it becomes too easy and logical to take your life and the lives of others in the name of your religion.

Hopefully efforts being made by science to better address human happiness will gain more traction by providing scientifically supported tools and understanding of emotions instead of the emotional benefits of religion that come coupled with irrational drawbacks.