September 16, 2013

Study: Religious people more likely to reject the idea that life has no purpose

FT_religion-purpose3Numerous studies have shown that people who are religious are happier in life. Now, a new study has found those who believe in God with no doubts are more likely to strongly disagree with the idea that life does not have meaning.

Stephen Cranney of the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania recently conducted the first large scale study that empirically tests the association between belief in God and feeling a sense of purpose in life.

FT_religion-happinessSurvey respondents who said they believe in God with no doubts also disagreed most strongly (61%) with the statement “In my opinion, life does not serve any purpose.” Those who said they were certain they did not believe in God or who expressed more uncertainty about their belief were less likely than strong believers to reject the statement that life has no purpose. (Only 49% said they strongly disagreed ). There were no statistically significant differences between those who were uncertain and those who did not believe in God.

Looking at believers and non-believers combined, a large majority of all respondents strongly disagreed (56%) or disagreed (36%) that life does not serve a purpose, with only 3% saying they agreed or strongly agreed.

The latest data on happiness and religious belief from a Pew Research Center survey shows religious people, on balance, are happier than nonreligious people.

Adults who attended religious services once a week or more often were significantly more likely to report feeling “very happy” (36%) than those who attended seldom or never (23%), and less likely to say they were “pretty happy” (46% vs. 55%) or “not too happy” (13% vs. 19%). Those who attend services more than once a week are the most happy of all, with 43% reporting that they are “very happy.”

Category: Social Studies

Topics: Religion and Society, Life Satisfaction

  1. Photo of Anna Brown

    is a research analyst focusing on social and demographic trends at Pew Research Center.


  1. Funkytown4 years ago

    I would argue that I’m very happy being an atheist because my behaviors are motivated by reality. We make our own meaning. For me, it’s love. Oh, and wine.

  2. Pentheus Makarios4 years ago

    While facing death years ago I realized that love is the only thing worth dying for – consequently it is also the only thing worth living for. To know and be known, relationally, is the highest purpose we can strive for in this short life. Yet all relationships are unavoidably affected by how one relates to God.

    There is only one “religion” which puts “love one another” above achievement, in the place of utmost importance. All others tend towards isolation.