According to a study published in the February issue of the journal Psychological Science, “people who feel lonely are more likely to believe in the supernatural, whether that is God, angels or miracles.”
College students were shown a clip from movies to induce feelings of isolation (Castaway) and fear (Silence of the Lambs). A control group watched Major League. Then, they were asked to rate their beliefs in the supernatural (ghosts, angels, Gods, miracles, etc.)… the loneliness group “reported stronger belief” in those areas.
During another part of the study, students were told that they would be receiving a “future-life prediction” from a computer. Half the students received the “prediction” that they would be lonely; the rest were told they would be socially connected in their lives.
Again, the lonely group reported stronger belief in the supernatural.
Even more than that:
The results were also compared to ratings the participants gave before they got their life predictions, and those who reported a belief in God before and were made to feel lonely reported a stronger belief after the experiment.
I’ve had conversations with Christians where they said that they found Jesus only when they were at the lowest points in their lives. That idea goes right along with these results — religion is a common place to turn to when you’re depressed. That doesn’t make religious claims true. But religion can function as a salve.