Project Director

Watson, Paul J.

Department Examiner

Hood, Ralph W., Jr.; Silver, Christopher


Dept. of Psychology


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Furthered by the spectacular innovations of technological advancement over the recent centuries, empirical science has yielded a depth of knowledge about the universe that early naturalistic philosophers could not imagine. Present-day scientists seem to have a much stronger motivation to espouse naturalistic worldviews than do early philosophers – the explanatory power of science appears to render null the need for explanations via numinous religious beliefs. Why do so many people maintain religious beliefs, then? A large body of literature suggests that religious belief is strongly associated with positive psychological functioning. However, other research suggests that religious belief is sometimes associated with negative psychological functioning. More recently though, and perhaps more accurately, findings indicate that religious belief is not unique in providing people with positive psychological functioning. In fact, a growing body of literature suggests that belief in science functions in similar ways to religious belief in providing individuals with positive psychological functioning. The following work compares and contrasts religious belief and belief in science, as related to mental health. Theoretical implications are discussed, and direction for future research is suggested.


First and foremost, I thank the Creator of the universe, whose patience, guidance, and relationship I cannot live without – this work is dedicated to the passion and purpose in life You have given to me. Second, I thank the incredible Dr. Paul J. Watson, whose leadership, mentorship, and friendship I will greatly miss – the greatest thing I can say of you, is that you did good work in this life, and that is certainly because of the One you followed. Until we meet again, Dr. Watson. Also, I thank Dr. Ralph W. Hood, whose help over this past year, and especially this unexpected last semester, have been invaluable. Thanks for putting a smile on my face every now and then, too. I thank Dr. Christopher Silver, whose technical guidance has helped maintain my life expectancy. I thank Dr. Ling-Jun Wang, Dr. Michael J. Colvin, Dr. Steven Wyre, Dr. Louie Elliot, Dr. Greg King, Dr. Michael G. Hasel, Lynne Macias, Ronnie Pittman, and Marvin E. Thorman whose philosophical, metaphysical, cultural, historical, religious, and even general conversations energize me – thank you all for being sincere. To Josiah, Joselena, Jeremiah, Jonah, Jaden, Mom, and Dad – you each help me believe.

IRB Number



B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Positive psychology; Psychology and religion


Science; Religion; Conflict; Complexity; Subjective well-being; Positive psychological functioning



Document Type



51 leaves







Included in

Psychology Commons