In a secular study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, results show that religious people who are lonely and see God as a friend have a higher sense of purpose in life and comfort compared to lonely people who do not believe in God.
“Our research suggests, given two people who feel equally disconnected, the individual who feels more connected to God will have a better sense of purpose in life,” Co-author Nicholas Michalak
Published in the Journal of Personality, the study was based on the responses of 19,775 people who shared certain aspects of their lives including their purpose in life, level of loneliness, religious beliefs as well as the quality of their friendships.
According to Todd Chan, lead author of the study, seeing God as a friend may make up for some of the purpose that people can get out of human relationships. “In other words, people mostly benefit from leveraging religion and turning to God as a friend only when they lack supportive social connections.”
“Our research suggests, given two people who feel equally disconnected, the individual who feels more connected to God will have a better sense of purpose in life,” co-author Nicholas Michalak added.
This study associated a sense of belonging with a sense of purpose. It stressed that if people feel that they don’t belong, it lessens their sense of purpose. However, this does not mean that people should consider God as a substitute for all human interactions. Oscar Ybarra, co-author of the study, said, “Quality human connections still remain a primary and enduring source of purpose in life.”